Alessandra Mileo
Data Analytics


Your name?
Alessandra Mileo

Your job title?
Senior Research Fellow, Adjunct Lecturer and Unit Leader at the INSIGHT Centre for Data Analytics

Describe your job and what are your main tasks / responsibilities?

I am a Senior Researcher and leader of a Research Team. My responsibilities include taking decision on the development and research directions for projects funded by industry and other universities, supervising students in their post-grad education, do teaching and evaluation at MSc level. I mainly focus on processing and understanding the meaning behind huge amounts of fast data generated by things (e.g. sensors) and people (e.g. social media), available over the internet. With my team, we look for solutions that can be faster and can provide better answers to human questions from data, and we are responsible for publishing and presenting the novel results of our approach to conferences and scientific journals.

How do you use mathematics within your job?

Mathematics is the key to understand the relation between different pieces of information. The way humans perform deduction to answer questions is strongly related to logical processes. Logics is an area of mathematics that I widely use to reproduce the way human thinks and enable machines to do the same.  Relating quantities that are apparently incomparable has its foundation in probability theory, and working on enormous quantities of data requires to find answers to questions by approximation (one of the key concepts of probability theory).  Also, in order to enable machines to learn (in a similar way as humans do), I rely on techniques that combine logics and probability theory.

What type of mathematics for you use to solve problems?

I personally believe logics and the theory of approximation and probability in combination are key to solve problems in my field.

What aspects of the mathematics curriculum or mathematics courses have proven most useful to you?

Logic and probability, but also the theory of sets and graphs theory (considering all the pieces of data and information I work with are linked and related into a mathemathical structure with nodes and edges. These are at the basis of areas such as Machine Learning used in Big Data, Knowledge Discovery, and Intelligent Systems.

What is your education to date?

I have a PhD in Computer Science and a BSc + MSc in Computer Science and Informatics.

What advice would you give to someone considering your job?

Do not think mathematics is so different from humanities and social science. All we can do as humans and social entities has its underlying foundations into one (or more!) areas of mathematics, and understanding this processes is key to build (more) intelligent systems.

What do you find most interesting in your job and what do you find are the main challenges?

The ability to find new solutions to old problems, or to adapt old solutions to new problems is a continuous discovery for me in being a Researcher. Working with industry and with other researchers makes it possible also to see practical benefits in real applications for improving people’s quality of life. The key challenge is that you never stop learning, this is both the interesting and the challenging part. There is always something new to discover, to investigate, to apply. There are failures too, but if you don’t fail, you can’t learn.