Distinguished Research Professor 2021
Ping Ma, professor in the Department of Statistics, is a world leader in developing statistics, machine learning and data science tools to address modern scientific problems. With rapid advances in technology, the volume of information that scientists can collect has increased dramatically, but these giant datasets often require powerful supercomputers for effective analysis. In a true breakthrough, Ma developed algorithms that enable scientists who lack supercomputing access to analyze big data using personal computers and even iPads and smartphones. He is a pioneer in introducing so-called “nonparametric” theory and methods to “let data decide the optimal model automatically.” And he has collaborated productively with scientists from a variety of fields, allowing them to draw valid conclusions and predictions from experimental and observational data, including those of seismic data based on dynamics of the Earth, streaming data from the Internet of Things, and epigenetic modifications unique to every individual.