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.