SPSBE Pair to Look at Cell Phone Usage and Auto
By Holly Bodner
Hang Nguyen and Wen-Shuan Tseng, master's degree
SPSBE's Department of Information Technology, are
looking for an answer to a question everyone is wondering
about these days: Is there a relationship between cell
phone usage and auto accidents?
Recently selected as this year's GEICO Student
Scholars in Discovery Informatics, the two recipients will
use data mining techniques to explore the relationship
between the two activities. The scholarship program is
funded by the GEICO Philanthropic Foundation and
coordinated by SPSBE's Department of Information
Technology. GEICO, whose main business is automobile
insurance, has a special interest in helping to identify
accident trends to help make drivers and roads safer for
the American public.
Nguyen, a resident of Gaithersburg, Md., earned a
degree in economics from Hanoi Foreign Trade University and
previously worked as a financial analyst for Vietnam
Airlines. Tseng, of Baltimore, holds a degree in foreign
languages from National Taiwan University and has conducted
marketing and product development for telecommunications
companies in Taiwan.
The students will conduct their research at the
Montgomery County Campus, supervised by Jay Liebowitz,
a professor, and William Agresti, an associate professor,
both in the Department of Information Technology. "We felt
that Hang and Wen-Shuan would be excellent for the program
because of their academic interests and work experiences,"
Liebowitz said. "Wen-Shuan had also taken the data mining
course, and Hang is currently taking it, which meant they
could apply what they had learned to the project."
Data mining is the practice of analyzing large masses
of data, looking for patterns and relationships. "It
involves the use of very sophisticated computer analysis
techniques to 'mine' for 'nuggets,' that is, interesting
patterns in the data," Agresti said. When data mining is
applied to traffic accidents, it may find combinations of
factors that help to explain high accident rates.
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