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[Summer series] Yanlei Diao - BIGmalion

Yanlei Diao, professor at École Polytechnique's Computer Science Laboratory, develops innovative algorithmic foundations to design a new generation of "big fast data" systems.

©Silvère Leprovost

Bigger and faster data. The potential of big data is a matter of global interest and Yanlei Diao’s chosen field of research since 2005. Today renowned for her expertise in analyzing massive data sets and live streams, the professor at École Polytechnique's Computer Science Laboratory received an ERC Consolidator grant in 2016 for her “Big and Fast Data” project and the promise it holds for accelerating the discovery of high-value content from large volumes of data.

A new generation of "big fast data" systems

In her research work, Yanlei Diao is developing a new algorithmic foundation for designing the next generation of big and fast data analytics systems that can achieve simultaneously the volume and speed in data processing, which today’s systems fail to provide. The advance envisioned in this project will pave the way for perpetual low-latency analysis of data and thus for the rapid transfer of information to many applications. “Big and fast data analysis is of paramount importance today and will bring radical changes to many areas in science and society,” she says.

Health and genomics applications

It wasn’t an attraction to computers that prompted the researcher to concentrate on data analysis. “I was good at mathematics and wanted to make a contribution to the real world,” explains Yanlei Diao, who sees computer science as a way of solving practical problems through formal models and methods. Among the many applications of her research, be it in business analytics, healthcare, or the Internet of Things, an example area that will be revolutionized is genomics. Her dedication to the field can be traced back to her study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. There she met a professor and mentor who deeply inspired her in research and recommended her to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her PhD in computer science in 2005. Since her mentor passed away from cancer, the researcher set her sights on an ambitious goal: developing big data technology for genomic data analysis to enable timely diagnosis and treatment, and eventually, to combat cancer.

Now it is Yanlei Diao’s turn to transfer her knowledge, her passion for research, and her drive to impact the real world to the next generation of young talents. After teaching for ten years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the United States, she is now sharing her expertise with the students at École Polytechnique.

Find all the portraits of researchers of our summer series, here.