LAHORE: “IBM and the Information Technology University (ITU) are collaborating to bring data science education to Pakistan. For the purpose, IBM will be providing access to software, curriculum and their systems,” ITU Assistant Professor Faisal Kamran said on Sunday.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said data science was paving the way for empowering businesses to make smarter decisions. “Data Science is considered a relatively new field that integrates state-of-the-art computational and statistical techniques to extract business value from a rapidly expanding volume of data. The emerging field holds the key to unleashing that potential,” Kamran said.
He said the Data Science Lab at the ITU was pioneer in the field. He said that for the initiative, the ITU had established a 10-member team, which included graduates from top universities across the world. He said Dr Asim Karim, who is currently on sabbatical from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), is also part of the lab.
He said activities of the lab included data analysis and knowledge discovery, discrimination- and privacy-aware data mining, recommender systems and text mining.
Abbas Raza Ali from IBM said, “The IBM Academic Initiative gives educators access to software and courseware free of charge for teaching and non-commercial research purposes.”
“IBM offers members of the academic initiative programme the opportunity to receive extended access to the IBM Bluemix and other cloud based services.”
Ali said the IBM Academic Initiative Programme worked with universities and corporations around the world to support work on data science and advanced analytics. “For this reason, IBM is partnering with the Data Science Lab at the ITU,” he said.
Ali said data science was a multidisciplinary field combining the applied side of mathematics, statistics, computer science, physics, linguistics, phonology, and cognitive science. “For an educational institute it is hard to offer most of the aspects of this field without having a strong industry partnership. There is a high demand for big data experts, data-miners, data and business analysts, forensic analysts, and management scientists in MEA [Middle East and Africa] region which will be fulfilled using this partnership.”
Kamran said the Data Science Lab was in the enviable position of having a unique collaboration with the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB.)
“The PITB and the ITU share a common leadership as Umar Saif, chairman of the PITB, is also vice chancellor of the university. As a result, the Data Science Lab has access to the data of various departments across the province. The lab is also focused on development and support of the Citizen’s Feedback Model.”
Faisal said that ITU was fully aware of the gap between demand and supply of data scientists and, therefore, welcomed the IBM Academic Initiative programme.
He said IBM’s strategic partnership with the ITU was one of its kind programme in Pakistan aiming to develop skills required for data-driven decision-making with a wide variety of courses such as Exploratory Data Analysis and Visualisation, Practical Case Studies in Data Science, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Cognitive Computing, Stream Computing, Large-Scale Data Analytics, and Statistical Computing Languages.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2016.