Mathematics

Sewanee: The University of the South

Sherwood Ebey Lecture - Rayid Ghani, C’99, chief scientist for the 2012 Obama campaign

Convocation Hall

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rayid ghani

Rayid Ghani, C’99, will present the annual Sherwood Ebey Lecture on “The Role of Data, Technology, and Analytics in the Presidential Election.” Ghani was a math and computer science major at Sewanee.

If you're still recovering from the barrage of ads, news, e-mails and Facebook posts giving you the latest poll numbers, asking you to volunteer, donate money, and vote, this talk will offer a look behind the scenes: why you were seeing what you were seeing.

Rayid Ghani was the chief scientist at the Obama for America 2012 campaign focusing on analytics, technology, and data. He will talk about how the Obama campaign used analytics to improve decision-making across the organization and will describe how data from a variety of sources was used to improve fundraising, volunteer activities, and voter mobilization.

Ghani’s work focused on improving these campaign functions using analytics, social media, and machine learning—developing algorithms to fine-tune messages to voters. He will discuss what kind of data was available to the campaign, what technologies were developed, and how the resulting products were used by the campaign. Although the focus will be on the election, Ghani will also discuss how some of the same techniques can make other organizations more successful through better use of data and analytics.

Before joining the campaign, Ghani was a senior research scientist and director of analytics research at Accenture Labs. He has more than 10 years of applied R&D experience in machine learning, data mining, text mining and other analytics areas across politics, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, intelligence and financial services industries.

At Accenture Labs, Ghani was responsible for setting the R&D vision and agenda for analytics, inventing new analytics algorithms, conducting analytics R&D, and the commercialization of early-stage research. His work has been featured in numerous stories in publications such as Time, the New York Times, Slate, Business Week, Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, US News & World Report, and NBC.

The annual Sherwood Ebey Mathematics Lecture is an endowed lectureship with the goal of presenting mathematically sound ideas in a manner that makes them accessible to a general audience. The lecture is co-sponsored by Friends of the Library and the Department of Economics.

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Sewanee: The University of the South