IBM awards data scientists at TU and VU

Data scientists from TU Delft and VU Amsterdam received several prizes from IBM for their research projects last week. IBM aims to strengthen its ties with (data) science.

PhD student Santiago Gaitan from the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geo Sciences received an IBM PhD fellowship for his research into urban flooding risks on the basis of diverse datasets. Gaitan used datasets on rainfall-related incidents as reported by citizens, distributed rain depths, socioeconomic circumstances and the age of buildings to explore their correlation with urban flooding risks. Results as published in PIAHS (Publications on behalf of the International Association of Hydrological Service) indicate that the impact of urban rainfall is higher near older buildings and where many people live close to each other.

Dr. Zaid Al-Ars, from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, was awarded the IBM Faculty Award for his work on high-performance image analysis for breast cancer diagnostics. IBM Faculty Awards reward extraordinary achievements in IT research and innovation. Al-Ars explained he has worked with the new IBM Power8 platform which features a specialized computational acceleration board. He describes the board as ‘programmable hardware’ that allows programmers to tune the processor hardware to the demands of the software. Al-Ars said: “If there is an algorithm that takes up too much processor time, you can reconfigure the board to have the hardware take over the intensive computing task. That way you can increase performance with minimal costs.”

Furthermore, both TU Delft and VU Amsterdam received Shared University Awards (SUR Awards). For the TU, the award means access to the Bluemix research platform for communal data science research. The platform combines crowdsourcing, cognitive computing and the internet of things. It should allow researchers within GECS to bring their local weather forecasting and water management to a new level. Their work aims to reduce the risks of urban flooding under extreme weather conditions.

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