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NTU unveils new research centre for data analytics & AI, attracts attention of PayPal

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SMEs, global corporations, governments, they all are stepping up to revolutionise our lifestyles, with innovations and novel devices, even educational institutions are piloting projects that aim to disrupt the existing technologies.

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) has launched a new research centre christened Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Research Centre (DSAIR). NTU will be seen investing about S$8 million in funding in the centre over a period of three years.

The research centre will be headed by Professor Chee Yeow Meng, chair of NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and Professor Ong Yew Soon, chair of its School of Computer Science and Engineering, who will lead a team of 60 scientists and researchers.

NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson, in a press release mentioned that the centre will combine NTU’s deep expertise in AI and machine learning with big data analytics to pioneer new technologies for key sectors of the Singapore economy. He added,

With the new NTU research centre, we aim to push the field even further by developing innovations in the way we collect, analyse and utilise the massive amounts of information available today, as big data will form a crucial part of Singapore’s Smart Nation infrastructure.

Professor Ong is leading a team of researchers who are creating a prototype software which enables creative individuals to develop sophisticated and visually appealing games in a short time frame. This edutainment software will soon allow people to design their own games and applications. Here, the catch is – they can do this without the knowledge of computer programming.

This will work in the following manner: as the users input their ideas using a simple drag-and-drop graphical interface, an automatic coding module will work in the background to enable Artificial Intelligence (AI) features. This advanced AI, called IntelliK, will significantly lessen both the cost and time needed for game developments.

Innovation is the major focus

The centre is also focused on working on some innovative projects. One of the projects is using Light Emitting Devices (LEDs) to come up with crowd-sensing technologies. The technology and its implications sound very exciting – it will estimate the number of people at a specific location, or number of cars moving on the roads. This, in turn, will enable smart control systems to adjus the lights and air-conditioning of a room based on its current usage, or to adjust traffic lights to the traffic density. How cool is that!

Partnerships with PayPal and NVIDIA

PayPal aims to nurture Singapore’s next generation of FinTech talent to drive innovation out of the Lion City. The students from NTU are also working with PayPal on FinTech research topics like applying new data science and AI techniques to improve customer service experience; mine network effects; perform implicit authentication; assess credit risk; as well as improve prediction of fraudulent behavior.

With this, both the entities aim to strengthen the existing tools in the financial industry, and develop and enable the next generation of payment systems as well as new types of systems.  Also, NTU students will be able to leverage some of PayPal’s best talent, resources and experience.

On the other hand, DSAIR has acquired two state-of-the-art DGX-1 systems from NVIDIA, which is the company’s most advanced computing system for deep learning. The systems’ computation capacities can significantly improve the speed and scalability of deep learning algorithms. This will allow NTU scientists to develop large-scale and complex solutions for problems that cannot be efficiently solved by conventional computing systems.


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