“Share your story”, said Mr. Obama’s website, encouraging visitors to share why they wanted to be involved in his election campaign. The mastermind behind this project codenamed the Dreamcatcher, was Mr. Obama’s “chief scientist”, Rayid Ghani. He aimed to convert vast amount of data collected through large commercial databases, boutique lists, voter files, social media sites, and an unprecedented quantity of voter interviews it regularly conducted using paid phone banks and volunteer canvassers, into a source of valuable data to galvanize the campaign, with the use of analytics, algorithms, and machine learning. The sophisticated algorithms were also used to predict views on particular issues like pro choice and pro life. Armed with this information, the campaign was more focused in its message and its target and the result was vastly increased efficiency in fund-raising and in volunteer and voter mobilization.
Prior to joining Mr. Obama’s campaign, Ghani was a Senior Research Scientist and Director of Analytics Research at Accenture Labs. At Accenture, Ghani mined tons of data collected on corporate consumer servers, to find statistical patterns that could forecast the future. In one instance, he deployed algorithms that replaced health insurers’ random audits, to anticipate which of 50,000 daily claims were most likely to require individual attention. In another instance, Ghani helped set the terms of price insurance marked to eBay sellers, by developing a model to estimate the end-price for auctions, based on each sale item’s unique characteristics.
Ghani’s interests span a whole gamut from general machine learning and data mining to privacy preserving data mining, text mining, semi-supervised learning, active learning, information retrieval, NLP, and knowledge management. Most recently, his work has focused on developing and using machine learning and data mining algorithms to solve large-scale practical challenges in business, government organizations, and in politics, like helping Mr. Obama win the re-election.
Come and hear Mr. Ghani discuss the huge potential inherent in Big Data Analytics, in a Fireside Chat at TiEcon 2013 http://www.tiecon.org .
PS – I have a job opening for Machine Learning Professional and details can be found in JOBS category on my blog at http://www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com .
Information about other TiEcon keynotes can be found at following links http://bit.ly/YYyOxd on Data Wizard D. J. Patil, http://bit.ly/13HmSrQ on Bharat Desai Chairman of Syntel. Register for TiEcon 2013 at http://www.tiecon.org .