Monash Business School forecaster a big thinker

Big business's increasing interest in forecasting and data science has seen a Monash Business School forecaster invited to address data scientists in the United States.

Seen as one of the most influential and accomplished experts in the field of forecasting, Professor Rob Hyndman from the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics was invited to speak to data scientists from Yahoo, Google and electricity company Southern California Edison.

As part of Yahoo Labs' Big Thinker series, Professor Hyndman discussed exploring the boundaries of predictability: what can be forecasted, and what can't.

Professor Rob Hyndman

At Google he focused on general models for automatic forecasting, something the company is interested in as part of their aim to automate everything, while at Southern California Edison Professor Hyndman looked at the challenges of forecasting peak electricity demand.

Times are changing

Professor Hyndman said his invitation to speak at such high-profile companies reflects the changing times in the business world.

"Ten years ago these companies didn't have data science teams. They might have had a couple of statisticians that did some data work for them, but now they have teams of data scientists who are trained in computer science, statistics and econometrics," Professor Hyndman said.

"This means that the research I am doing has impact. Rather than just being cited in journals, which is still a good thing, my research is getting used by companies to find real-life solutions.

"The companies are all working on how they can take the data they have and use it to the best advantage for the company and their customers.

"One of the ways in which they can ensure this, is to have people like me come and speak to them because I develop methodology and algorithms which they can apply to their data. This is the changing world of data science, where cutting edge techniques are being applied in practice, often before the associated academic papers appear in journals."

Monash Business School has a very good reputation in forecasting – in business forecast, we are regarded as the best in the world.

Professor Rob Hyndman

Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics

The invitation to speak to staff at such high profile companies also reflects the standing of Monash Business School in the field of forecasting according to Professor Hyndman.

"Monash Business School has a very good reputation in forecasting – in business forecast, we are regarded as the best in the world," he said.

"Businesses and professional bodies are very interested to work with people from the School because they know that we do really good research and we are at the cutting edge of developing new ideas."

Other speaking engagements

While in North America Professor Hyndman attended the International Symposium on Forecasting in California. He also spoke at a workshop on frontiers in functional data analysis in Banff, Canada.

The invitation-only event in Canada saw Professor Hyndman present to 30 of the world's leading functional data scientists.

On his return to Australia in July, Professor Hyndman will speak at James Cook University on visualising and forecasting big time series data.