Arash Amini, assistant professor of statistics in the UCLA College, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award supporting his research and education activities on high-dimensional statistical models for unlabeled and compex data.

The CAREER Award, which in this case provides Amini’s research project with $400,000 over a five year period, is one of the highest honors a junior faculty member can achieve in the beginning of their career. It is given to those who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

“It is rewarding to know that others in the field have recognized that this line of work is important, and I know it will be beneficial to our department,” said Amini, who received his award from the NSF’s division of mathematical sciences.

Amini’s research is within the growing field of data science. As the world continues to unpack the growing number of datasets we have access to, the field of data science is tackling new ways to dissect data sets of all sizes. The vast majority of data is unlabeled, which makes modeling it more difficult. Amini’s project will advance the field of modeling this type of unlabeled and complex data, a technique called unsupervised learning.

The implications of research such as this is important to understanding the data we have access to. For example, this research may allow researchers to look at a network where an epidemic is spreading and infer information about the structure of the network. Network inferences as well as graphical modeling will play a large role in the work Amini will conduct.

The project will work with a variety of graduate students within the statistics department, but Amini hopes that interdisciplinary work is in the future. “A big portion of the project is about analyzing network data so working with a variety of scholars who have the real data and applications is always helpful,” he said.