Dr Quentin Williams

QWilliams_The science of data: Freedom to think

Dr Quentin Williams
Williams focuses on the formulation and implementation of research strategy within the information and communications (ICT) domain and in particular, he facilitates data science skills programmes across the national ICT research and development ecosystem for the CSIR. He completed a BEng in electronic engineering at Stellenbosch University, followed by a PhD in engineering from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom with emphasis on using medical image analyses to understand cardiac disease.

About the talk: Ever since the seminal article in the Harvard Business Review claimed that being a data scientist is the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century’, the term data science has been widely adopted in mainstream media when discussing technology and ICT. The term is usually associated with descriptions of significant benefits being reaped by businesses that use highly skilled data scientists to extract value, products and insights, having started with messy and unstructured data. The availability of huge amounts of data as a disruptive technology trend in the near future also fuels the discussions about data science. Data and data analytics have become commodities that can be bought and sold – driving efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness across multiple sectors.

Therefore, the extraction of meaningful insight from data is a complex task that has steered a wide interest in many research fields such as machine learning, data curation, human computer interaction, psychology, signal processing and visual analytics, amongst others. The substantial growth in data has gone alongside the ability to instrument almost any ‘thing’ with requisite sensors, computing capabilities and connectivity, adding to the challenge of making sense of data where the volume, velocity, variety and veracity are ever increasing.

Williams will discuss how the interaction between human insight and the machine intelligence made possible via data science provides decision-makers with the ability to explore, analyse and understand data and to promote real-time value generation in domains such as sport, policy decisionmaking, transport, health and infrastructure maintenance.


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