Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Google funding research to measure regret

According to an article in Mashable Google is funding Artificial Intelligence research at Tel Aviv University that will help determine if computers could be taught regret.  My first inclination is to wonder if this is really anything new.  Linear programming itself is all about regret or, in financial terms, opportunity cost.  From the article it describes the research is about how to
measure the distance between a desired outcome and the actual outcome, which can be interpreted as “virtual regret.” 
That sounds a lot like mathematical programming to me.  So what is so different about the Tel Aviv Universtity findings?  Apparently its not something new with the algorithms but more or less new with how the data is processed.  Dr. Yishay Mansour explains that they will be using machine learning methodologies to look at all the relevant variables in advance of making informed decisions.  This sounds more like this research is in the realm of how to understand large amounts of data and processing it into usable information. 

Big data is a huge problem in the data rich but information lacking internet environment that we face today.  There is a lot of data handled by organizations but they need to know what to do with it.  Today's Operations Research professional should be perched to swoop in an help this issue.  Organizations are data rich but lack the focus to apply it to meaningful decision analysis.  I'm hoping that this is only going to lead to a big watershed moment for the Operations Research community.

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