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Activities and Events

The Inauguration Ceremony

The inauguration of the Center was held on the 16th December 2015 at the FGS Auditorium, College House, University of Colombo. The Acting Vice Chancellor and the Dean, Faculty of Science, Prof. Ranjith Mahanama graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The website of the Center was launched by the Chief Guest signifying the launching of the center. The event was graced by around hundred guests from universities and industry.

One of the Key events of the day included a keynote speech by Prof. John Emerson of Department of Statistics at Yale University USA. His talk offered an invaluable insight in to Data Science its applications and how anyone should approach this emerging field. The last event of the day was the panel discussion convened by Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe, Senior Lecturer of the University of Colombo School of Computing under the theme “Making Data Talk”. The panel consisted of Dr. Liwan Liyanage (Senior Lecturer, University of Western Sydney, Australia), Dr. Kevin Seneviratne (Senior Database Administrator and Consultant at Data Services Group, Coles Supermarkets, Australia), Dr. Dhammika Amaratunaga (Retired Senior Director at Johnson & Johnson's Research and Development Unit), Dr. Srinath Perera (Vice President – Research, WSO2, Sri Lanka), Dr. Rasika Withanawasam (Associate Software Architect, MilleniumIT Software Ltd) and Mr. Peter D'Almeida (Managing Director/Chief Executive, N*able (Pvt) Ltd). The ideas discussed at the panel were both interesting and insightful for not only to the academics but also to the industrial personnel who attended the event. The Inauguration Ceremony was sponsored by MilleniumIT Software Ltd and CEAT Sri Lanka as Platinum sponsors, N*able (Pvt) Ltd, National Savings Bank and Sri Lanka Apparels as Gold sponsors and Stax as silver sponsor.

A Talk on "Big Data and Data Science: The Technologies Shaping Our Lives"

A public talk on “Big Data and Data Science: The Technologies Shaping Our Lives" presented by Dr. Rukshan Batuwita (Senior Data Scientist, Ambiata (pvt) Ltd, Australia) was held on 3rd May 2016 from 3:00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. at the Main Library Auditorium.

Abstract of the Talk

Big Data and Data Science have become increasingly imperative areas in both industry and academia to the extent that every company wants to hire a Data Scientist and every university wants to start dedicated degree programs and centres of excellence in Data Science. Big Data and Data Science have led to technologies that have already shaped different aspects of our lives such as learning, working, travelling, purchasing, social relationships, entertainments, physical activities, medical treatments, etc. This talk will attempt to cover the landscape of some of the important topics in these exponentially growing areas of Data Science and Big Data including the state-of-the-art processes, commercial and open-source platforms, data processing and analytics algorithms (specially large scale Machine Learning), application areas in academia and industry, the best industry practices, business challenges and what it takes to become a Data Scientist.

About the Speaker

Rukshan Batuwita completed his BSc in Computer Science from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, in 2005, and then his PhD from University of Oxford, UK in 2010 in the areas of Machine Learning and Bioinformatics. Then he continued his academic research as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Imperial College London on applied Machine Learning in Bioinformatics, and then at MIT Research Centre (SMART) in Singapore on applied Machine Learning in transportation data analysis. In 2013 he joined the Statistical Machine Learning group at National ICT Australia (NICTA) as a Researcher, where he worked on scaling up Machine Learning methods applied for Big Data Analytics. He left NICTA in 2014 with his research team members to spin out Ambiata, a company focusing on applying Machine Learning/Big Data Analytics to optimise customer interventions, where he is currently working as the Senior Data Scientist.

Training Programme in Fundamentals of Data Science

The Center for Data Science, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) developed the short-term Training Programme in Fundamentals of Data Science. For this program the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) in agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka under the IT initiative of the 2018 Budget provided with financial support by providing 50% of the cost of the programme. The inauguration ceremony was held at the Senate Hall, University of Colombo on 29th of October 2018 and senior professor Lakshman Dissanayake graced the event as the chief guest.

The Inauguration Ceremony

Certificate Award Ceremony

The International Conference in Data Science, 2021

Data Science, reshaping the future

In 2021, the Center for Data Science together with the Department of Statistics, University of Colombo, organized the first ever International Conference in Data Science in Sri Lanka. This virtual academic forum was organized in order to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Center for Data Science, 20th anniversary of the Department of Statistics, and the 100th anniversary of the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo.

 The International Conference in Data Science, 2021, was held for two consecutive days, on the 29th of June and on the 30th of June, featuring many exciting sessions, focused on the theme “Data Science, reshaping the future”. This enriching forum attracted some of the worlds renowned resource personnel and representatives, and it provided the public with a two-day learning opportunity.

Day one of the International Conference in Data Science started off with a lavish inaugural ceremony, featuring the keynote speech and guest speeches by distinguished personnel in statistics and data science research fields. The keynote speech of the conference was delivered by Professor John Emerson, who is a professor of statistics and the adjunct director of graduate studies in Yale University, USA. He enlightened the audience about the extraordinary evolution of data science from 2015 to 2021, with many examples from around the world.

Then, Professor Bibhas Chakraborty, who is an associate professor of Centre for Quantitative Medicine and Program in Health Services and Systems Research in Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, conducted the first guest speech of the conference. The professor’s speech gave the audience a very thorough understanding about how statistics and data science can be used to build effective applications in mobile health.

The final highlight of the inaugural ceremony was the second guest speech by Professor Umashanger Thayasivam, who is a professor of statistics and data science in the Department of Mathematics, Rowan University, USA, and he shared his thoughts on the impacts of quantum computing on the future of data science.

The latter half of the day one of the International Conference in Data Science consisted of technical sessions, where presenters shared their research with the gathered audience. These research presentations were held according to six tracks, and they are Predictive Analytics, Data Visualization, Machine Learning, Deep learning and AI, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics.

Day two of the International Conference in Data Science kickstarted its sessions just as energetically as the day before. The morning session consisted of two workshops to communicate novel concepts in data science with the public. The first workshop was conducted by Dr. G.P.Lakraj, who is a senior lecturer of the Department of Statistics, University of Colombo. He thoroughly explained the essentials of decision trees in machine learning to the gathered audience. The second workshop on ‘Introduction to Deep Learning’ was conducted by two resource persons from Acuity Knowledge Partners, Mr. Gamika Seneviratne and Mr. Devin Kandage.

The evening portion of the second and final day of the International Conference in Data Science consisted of the final round of the Mini-Hackathon organised by the Center for Data Science, Stat Circle of University of Colombo, and Creative Software. The Mini-Hakathon was open for undergraduates of state and non-state universities in the country and 89 five-member teams registered for the competition. After a very competitive screening round, 15 teams were selected for the second round. These teams were given an industry-oriented problem to come up with a solution within a stipulated time. Based on the accuracy and the architecture of the proposed method, the top five teams were selected for the final round.

The final round of the Mini-Hackathon was an exhilarating and fierce battle between the top five teams. Team Residuals, from University of Colombo emerged as champions, while Team Noob Hackers from University of Moratuwa became the runner up team. Team Enigma, from SLIIT secured the 2nd runner up position, while two teams from University of Peradeniya, Team SemicolonICDS and Team Bitlasagna, became 4th and 5th places, respectively. This thrilling competition brought a lavish end to the two-day International Conference in Data Science, organised by the Center for Data Science jointly with the Department of Statistics, University of Colombo.