Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Interview with Benjamin Fung, Associate Professor, McGill University

Dr Benjamin Fung
Benjamin, you're an Associate Professor of Information Studies at McGill University - can you tell us more about the role and how you entered academia?

Certainly. As you say, I am currently an Associate Professor of Information Studies at McGill University and previously was an Associate Professor of Information Systems Engineering at Concordia University. I am particularly interested in developing new, scalable data mining methods for privacy protection and crime investigation.

In 2003, after working in the software industry for four years, I noticed there was a need for scalable data mining methods. As a result, I resigned from my job at SAP Business Objects and studied a Ph.D. in computing science, specializing in data mining, at Simon Fraser University. Recently, there is a hot research topic called "big data", but data miners have been working on "big data" for more than 20 years already.

Your research focuses on designing intelligent systems for the purpose of crime investigation. How did you become interested in these topics?

After joining the Computer Security team at Concordia in 2007, I had a lot of opportunities to interact with different law enforcement units in Canada. In the meetings, I found that there is a big gap between the state-of-the-art data mining methods in the literature and the current software tools used by law enforcement officers. A lot of important evidence can be collected from the suspects' digital devices, from laptops to smart phones. The challenge is how to efficiently retrieve the relevant information from such a large volume of (unstructured) textual data...

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