Companies everywhere are gathering information on their transactions, processes, customers, inventories, etc., and storing that data in-house for analysis; there is only one question: how does one analyze the vast amounts of data being collected?
“Data is now a resource; it is almost like a type of raw material,” said Jeffrey Humpherys, a professor in the Department of Mathematics. “If you can figure out how to mine it and how to harvest it, then it can add value to a company.”
Humpherys is part of a team of professors and students who have started a mathematics program dedicated to the interpretation of this data. Applied & Computational Mathematics Emphasis (ACME) is a new mathematics program that instructs students how to utilize data, solve complicated real-world algorithms, and predict future behavior from math modeling.
ACME teaches students scientific literacy and broad-vision problem solving in a contemporary context. In the past and even now at other universities, it is common for applied mathematics programs to be focused on the mathematical techniques that are tied more to the historical development of mathematics than what is being used today. Students in the ACME program focus on cutting-edge techniques in algorithm design and analysis, mathematical modeling, and data science especially.
“We want to prepare students to think at a twenty-first century level and have twenty-first century ideas, and not have all of the baggage of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,” Humpherys said. “We want to focus more on what the future is going to be about, not what the past was.”
Although the program is only in its second semester, ACME is already garnering interest among students and industry representatives alike. A representative from Google Analytics came to BYU and spoke to the students in the program. After the meeting, the representative was so impressed with one of the students that he asked Humpherys for the student’s contact information on the spot.
“We are having remarkable success as we communicate with companies about the capabilities of the students and the kinds of problems they can solve,” Humpherys said.