News Service, Kevin Brown

Perry Samson

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I developed LectureTools with NSF support in response to a need to increase opportunities for student participation in larger lecture courses. It was subsequently spun off campus using NSF SBIR funding and was acquired by Echo360 which has incorporated it into its Active Learning Platform (ALP).  ALP collects data on how students behave before, during and after class including how many slides they view, how many notes they type, how many questions they answer and how many gradable questions they get correct as well as what question they pose and how often do they indicate confusion.

These unique data are used to understand how student participation is related to exam grades and to build models to forecast which students will have trouble in class far earlier in the semester.  My goal is to combine data from ALP with other data sets to ascertain which, if any, participation data allows the best prediction of student success.

Exam grades as a function of the number of words typed in students notes.

Exam grades as a function of the number of words typed in students notes.

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Pascal Van Hentenryck

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Our research is concerned with evidence-based optimization, the idea of optimizing complex systems holistically, exploiting the unprecedented amount of available data. It is driven by an exciting convergence of ideas in big data, predictive analytics, and large-scale optimization (prescriptive analytics) that provide, for the first time, an opportunity to capture human dynamics, natural phenomena, and complex infrastructures in optimization models. We apply evidence-based optimization to challenging applications in environmental and social resilience, energy systems, marketing, social networks, and transportation. Key research topics include the integration of predictive (machine learning, simulation, stochastic approximation) and prescriptive analytics (optimization under uncertainty), as well as the integration of strategic, tactical, and operational models.

The video above is of a planned evacuation of 70,000 persons for a 1-100 year flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Region using both predictive and prescriptive analytics and large data sets for the terrain, the population, and the transportation network.