The Science of Making Intelligent Decisions

cber zhang renyu

Professor Renyu Zhang delves into the analytics and operations research

AI, big data, and machine learning are some of the hottest tech buzzwords today, but few are aware that operations research actually drives these technologies. Operations research is about using data and analytical models to generate insights and guide better decision making.

Renyu Zhang, Assistant Professor of Operations Management at NYU Shanghai, teaches the Business Analytics course, which introduces state-of-art analytics techniques to students. Students use machine learning tools to creative precise predictive models. This hands-on experience will help them grasp analytics techniques that are useful in a wide range of real-world decision-making scenarios for individuals, enterprises, and governments.


cber zhang renyu classroom
Students learn how to create data analytics models for real-world applications

As society advances and the impacts and consequences from a single decision grows ever more complicated, data analytics helps make sense of massive amounts of complex information.

Operations research and analytics exists in all corners of our lives. It has driven the growth of multi-billion dollar companies like the on-demand ride-sharing platform Didi Chuxing. By employing state-of-the-art analytics, the Didi platform responds to patterns in user behavior and matches huge numbers of drivers with riders quickly and fairly.

These techniques also have life-saving applications in medicine. Alvin Roth, the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, designed kidney exchange programs to enable transplantations between otherwise incompatible donor-patient pairs. His work built on three decades of work from operations researchers and economists working in the field.

“The core of artificial intelligence is to use optimization methods to train a model that would make the ‘smallest’ mistake in a given task,” says Zhang, “without the fast development of operations research and analytics, the coolest achievements of AI such as AlphaGo and autonomous driving would simply be impossible.”


alpha go
Analytics drive breakthroughs in AI and machine learning like AlphaGo--the first computer to beat a human world champion in the game of Go

Renyu Zhang is the Assistant Professor of Operations Management at NYU Shanghai and Global Network Assistant Professor at NYU, as well as a member of the Center for Business Education and Research (CBER) at NYU Shanghai, which aims to promote innovative research on China-related business and to inspire academic collaboration among industry leaders, business faculty and students.


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