Young researcher award funds data science, analysis

By Michelle Fredrickson, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture

Assefaw-GebremedhinPULLMAN, Wash. – Computer science professor Assefaw Gebremedhin has received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award for exceptional researchers at the beginning of their careers.

The $517,000 grant will support development of fast and scalable algorithms for solving problems in data science. Gebremedhin will explore ways to take advantage of a connection going both ways between two types of computer algorithms: graph or network algorithms and matrix algorithms.

By meshing the two types of algorithms, he hopes to speed up data analysis functions. With the preponderance of data worldwide, there are endless possible applications for the research, he said. For instance, it has applications in the large Web searches that Google performs.

“If a Google search is faster and smarter, everyone’s life is better,” he said.

The grant will also support development of a new undergraduate course in data science and a graduate course in network science. The classes are in the pilot stage.

The award comes at a time when Washington State University is focusing on building strong programs in data science and data analytics, both in terms of research and education, Gebremedhin said: “The award is an honor, and the timing is excellent.”