The MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) will be adding another academic program to its offerings in fall 2016—a new undergraduate minor in statistics and data science. In addition, IDSS will welcome its first cohort of students in its new Doctoral Program in Social and Engineering Systems (SES) in the fall, and also hosts the long-running Technology and Policy Program (TPP).
Statistics is the science of making inferences and decisions from data under uncertainty. It is an essential tool for almost every quantitative field.
“There are currently tremendous opportunities and challenges in the area of statistics,” says Philippe Rigollet, assistant professor of mathematics. “Large quantities of data are now routinely available. They create a need to develop a common platform articulated around general data science principles that transcends specific application domains. IDSS is at intersection of science and technology, which puts us in a unique position to develop new models and methods to tackle these challenges.”
Through six subjects, MIT’s new minor in statistics and data science will provide students with a working knowledge base in statistics, probability, and computation, and develop their ability to perform data analysis. IDSS is working to develop multiple academic offerings in statistics, with the undergraduate minor as the first of these.
“Statistics thrives in a place where the applied approaches to analyzing data and making informed decisions are complemented by the theoretical understanding of statistical techniques,” says Alexander (Sasha) Rakhlin, associate professor of statistics, University of Pennsylvania. “With its forward-looking vision, IDSS is quickly becoming such a place—a home to the emerging statistics community at MIT.”
In addition to these efforts, the new MIT Center for Statistics—formed as part of IDSS—is an MIT-wide focal point for advancing research and education programs related to statistics. The Center aims to formalize and consolidate efforts in statistics at MIT, and foster multidisciplinary collaborations.
The Center for Statistics hosts the ongoing Stochastics & Statistics Seminar Series. Along with IDSS, the Center for Statistics hosted the May 2015 symposium “21st-Century Statistics at MIT.” (Symposium videos available here.)