IDSS News June 2020
Munther Dahleh photo by Lillie Paquette MIT School of Engineering
Our society has reached what we hope is an inflection point in its struggle with systemic racism. I am grateful to everyone who joined us for our recent town hall to discuss this issue, and to those who have offered their feedback and suggestions. We are putting together a strategy to address internal challenges, reflect on our own culture and practices, and to empower research that uses our expertise to offer data-driven insights and policy recommendations to build a more equitable future. More on that to come.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic continues to present societies around the world with questions that require rigorous data analysis to answer. The need for data science skills is urgent and global. We are striving to meet this need by building a world-wide community of learners and practitioners.

Our education partnerships are part of our commitment to advancing the state of data science. They are built on our MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science, a collaboration with MITx that provides online learning in probability, statistics, data analysis, and machine learning. Through our partnerships, IDSS provides support to cohorts of learners in this program, from live instruction and regular feedback to individualized course materials put together by expert teaching assistants.

I am pleased to announce our newest partner: the Uruguay Technological University (UTEC) Program in Data Science. They are recruiting for their next cohort, and we will be holding a webinar about the program Thursday, July 16 at 11AM EST via their YouTube channel.

The MicroMasters program recently held a virtual celebration for those who have completed all 4 courses and the exam – no simple feat, as these courses were designed by our faculty with an MIT level of rigor. Our first class of 189 MicroMasters credential holders come from 51 different countries. As this global network of skilled data scientists grows, we expect to be able to share more stories about these intrepid learners and the critical challenges they are tackling with their new, hard-won knowledge.

A couple personal notes: I am saddened by the loss of Michael Athans, a mentor who transformed LIDS into the multidisciplinary lab it is today. I am heartened, though, by the success of my colleague Ali Jadbabaie, a leader who has been instrumental in building IDSS into a thriving community with unique interdisciplinary academic programs and research. I predict great things for him and for Civil & Environmental Engineering as he takes the reins in the fall.

All my best for a safe and restful summer.

Munther Dahleh, Director
William A. Coolidge Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
IDSS will provide support to cohorts of learners in Uruguay who take the MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science, an online program developed by IDSS faculty.
As Associate Director of IDSS, Jadbabaie has led the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center (SSRC) and served as Program Chair for the Social & Engineering Systems PhD program.
Former director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), Athans was a pioneer in the field of control theory with a long and deeply accomplished tenure at MIT.
The IDSS Covid-19 Collaboration (Isolat) is a volunteer effort that brings together the broader IDSS community to provide analysis of data associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in order to inform policy makers.

Contact for more information.
Should the 6-foot distance be adjusted when one or both parties are masked? What impact do masks have on R0? And how do masks compare to other forms on PPE such as face shields?
Who is our 'family' on a college campus? What implications does that for virus spread? If we loosen social distancing protocols to pods, small units of people living and interacting together like immediate families, we have to make up for that somewhere else.
Inside spaces bring an elevated risk of Covid-19 transmission. We examine the parameters and decisions that universities will make about which classes to offer to which students, online or offline.
Most models that predict important Covid-19 outcomes take one of two general approaches, but tend to share a key assumption: that the data will have only one apex.
IDSS affiliate & MIT Sloan professor John Sterman says our response to the coronavirus can inform our response to climate change.
Using insights from behavioral science, Sloan professor and IDSS affiliate David Rand shares tactics for effective public health messaging.
Key input for MIT's options for the 2020-2021 academic year included transmission models developed by the IDSS Covid-19 Collaboration (Isolat).
This year's graduates included the first doctor of Social & Engineering Systems, plus 6 Engineering Systems PhDs, 17 TPP students, and more.
A global team of researchers searched for insights during a weeklong virtual datathon co-organized by Marie-Laure Champignon, an IDSS Social and Engineering Systems PhD student.
The startup macro-eyes, co-founded by Suvrit Sra of IDSS and LIDS, uses artificial intelligence to improve vaccine delivery and patient scheduling.
IDSS affiliate and DUSP professor Sarah Williams (right) co-teaches Data and Society, a new SHASS course that engages students in the ethics and societal implications of data.
Countries fail the same way businesses do: gradually, and then suddenly, argues Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu.
Brain and Cognitive Sciences honored Sasha Rakhlin with this year’s award for excellence in graduate teaching based on student input.
Could you be using data more effectively? Turn your big data into even bigger results in this 7-week course starting Sept 28.
Master the skills needed to solve complex challenges with data. Probability starts Sept 1. Machine Learning starts Sept 8.
Completing the MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science

Our first class of 189 MicroMasters credential holders come from 51 different countries. Hear from some learners about the program and their experiences:
Using a novel methodology, IDSS affiliate Jinhua Zhao uncovered patterns in the development trends and transportation policies of China’s cities that may help decision-makers.
PatternEx, co-founded by Kalyan Veeramachaneni of LIDS, combines machine learning and human expertise to flag suspicious network activity.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades, per a new study from IDSS and Sloan professor Andrew Lo.
Amid a push for mail-in balloting, states still need a better strategy for safety at the polls, writes IDSS affiliate Charles Stewart.