Computer Science Alum Awarded MacArthur Genius Grant

Christopher Ré, BS'01 (computer science), MSEng '03 (computer science), has been named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow and a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation's Genius Grant -- $625,000 awarded to fellows to spend with no strings attached. Ré, who is currently a professor of computer science at Stanford University, works to democratize big data analytics.

Ré was recognized for his studies on “dark data,” which is the “mass of unprocessable data buried in texts, illustrations, images,” and technology he has created has been implemented in fields ranging from laboratories to law enforcement, according to the foundation website.

Ré has led a team in creating DeepDive, a data-analysis program that can extract information from graphs, images, diagrams and maps and then convert it to a form understandable by computers. This allows researchers in various fields to harness the fast data-processing of a computer to find patterns in their data that they may have missed before.

“DeepDive was a project we started a couple of years ago, basically in response to what we called ‘macroscopic problems.’ These are problems where the information for a particular analysis is out there, scattered throughout the literature and we wanted to bring that information into one place,” he said.

Ré said the grant would allow him to tackle projects he previously never dreamt of before.

“My reaction when I got the call from MacArthur was that it’s one of those things you dream about — it’s all these projects you’ve had and said, ‘That’s too crazy, you’ll never be able to do that,’ [but] now it looks like you can,” he said.

This article excerpted from The Cornell Daily Sun.