Cathy O’Neil is a mathematician, data scientist and the author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. She will discuss the unintended negative consequences of using big data, including how so-called “objective” black-box algorithms have the potential to reinforce human bias in everything from sentencing to hiring workers. O’Neil began her career in academia before moving to the private sector, where she worked as a hedge-fund analyst during the credit crisis and then as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene. She writes regularly for Bloomberg View about algorithms, and in 2017 she founded the consulting firm ORCAA to audit algorithms for racial, gender and economic inequality. Part of the National Affairs Series.
Cathy O’Neil earned a PhD in math from Harvard, was a postdoc at the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry.
Switching to the private sector, working as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She left in 2011 to work as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks.
She wrote the book Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014.
College of Engineering
College of Human Sciences
Ivy College of Business
LAS Miller Lecture Fund
Office of the Vice President for Research
Philosophy & Religious Studies
Program for Women in Science and Engineering
Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)