SAS Vice President Radhika Kulkarni PhD '81 Describes the Potential for Analytics
In a recent visit to Cornell, Radhika Kulkarni PhD '81 spoke to a joint seminar of ORIE and Cornell's Department of Statistical Sciences. The title of her talk, "Transforming the Data Deluge into Data-Driven Insights: Analytics that Drive Business Value," captures the role of OR and Statistics in dealing with a relatively new phenomenon. Voluminous quantities of data, both numbers and text, are a major by-product of the advances in computing and telecommunications. Through data analytics, they are increasingly the basis for operational and strategic decisions.
In the talk, Kulkarni noted that the amount of data available for analysis has grown by a factor of 10 in the past four or five years, so that by 2011 there will be nearly two zettabytes captured and replicated in computer storage (a zettabyte is 1021 bytes, or one trillion gigabytes). This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
As Vice President for Advanced Analytics R&D at SAS Institute, Kulkarni is in an excellent position to understand the implications of the demand by organizations to make effective use of this data. In her talk she discussed the need for more powerful algorithms, more flexible models, better visualization techniques, and easier deployment of software in order to address this, expressed by organizations who are clients of SAS. She described the business problems that SAS has helped several clients solve using advanced analytical approaches.
Although the term "analytics" has only recently been used as an alternative to "operations research," privately held SAS Institute has been involved in analytics since its founding. The Institute came into existence in the 1970's to provide maintenance and further development of the Statistical Analysis System now known by its acronym. Current SAS products integrate forecasting, statistical modeling, data mining, quality improvement and optimization components.
As a graduate of Madras University and the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, Kulkarni came to Cornell initially as a mathematics PhD student She switched to ORIE a year later. A year after that she married a fellow ORIE student, Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni, who is now professor and former chairman of the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at the University of North Carolina. She serves as a member of the Advisory Board of Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research.
SAS Institute employs 2000 software developers and 200+ PhD specialists in fields related to Operations Research in Cary North Carolina, Pune India and Beijing China.