Text Box: Department of Computer Science at Cornell University
Text Box: Text Box: The Conway-Walker Lecture is supported by Drs. Richard and Edythe Conway

Richard Conway and Robert Walker were instrumental in the founding of Cornell’s Computer Science Department in 1965, convincing senior administrators of the need for a PhD program and securing generous funding from the Sloan Foundation to help launch the fledgling unit.


Richard Conway, during his long and varied career at Cornell, held a faculty position in Computer Science from 1965 to1983, serving as Chair of the Department 1978-79 and 1983-84. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is widely known for his fundamental contributions to scheduling and computer simulation. Dick is a faculty emeritus of the Johnson School of Management.

Robert Walker was a Professor in the Department of Mathematics from 1938 to 1974, serving as its Chair for ten of those years. Bob’s interest in computing and its connections to mathematics grew during his career. He held a half-time faculty appointment in the CS Department until 1968. Bob became emeritus in 1974 and died in 1992.



Text Box: In October 2006, the DVD rental company Netflix released more than 100 million user ratings of movies for a competition to predict new ratings based on prior ratings.  The size of the data (over 17,000 movies and 480,000 users) and the nature of human-movie interactions produced many modeling challenges.  One allure to data analysts around the world was a $1,000,000 prize for a team achieving a ten percent reduction in root mean squared prediction error relative to Netflix’s existing algorithm.  Besides producing a photo finish worthy of a movie, the 33-month competition spurred numerous advances in the science of recommender systems and machine learning, more generally.  After describing some of the techniques used by the leaders, I will offer lessons and raise some questions about building massive prediction models; the role of statistics and computer science in such endeavors; and prizes as a way to advance science.  This is joint work with Chris Volinsky and Yehuda Koren, current and former colleagues at AT&T Labs-Research.  
Text Box:                The      
                Distinguished Lecture          
Text Box: Thursday
August 26, 2010
Text Box: 4:15 pm
B17 Upson Hall
Reception - 4th Floor Atrium at 3:45pm

Robert Bell

AT&T Labs-Research


Robert Bell received a Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford University in 1980. After spending 18 years at RAND doing public policy analysis, he joined the Statistics Research Department at AT&T Labs-Research. His research interests range from machine learning methods to survey research methods. He was a member of the team that won the Netflix Prize competition in 2009. Bell has served on the Fellows Committee of the American Statistical Association, the board of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, the Committee on National Statistics, and several National Research Council advisory committees studying statistical issues from conduct of the decennial census to airline safety. 



Text Box: Lessons from the Netflix Prize