Dr. Seung-Jong Park, On the Possibilities of Big Data

by Morgan Kastner

Dr. Seung-Jong Park started his computer science journey at a young age when he began designing computer games as a high-school student. He says these games weren’t anything fancy — just characters moving back and forth on a screen — but that was enough to draw him in. He went on to get his B.S. and M.S. in computer science in South Korea, then traveled to the United States to get his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. After graduating in 2004, he accepted a position with Louisiana State University and has been here since.

We recently spoke with Park about his research and his role on campus.

Big Data and Deep Learning

Park’s research focuses on high-speed computer networks and high-performance computing, which he says are integrated together to develop large-scale applications, also known as Big Data.

He teaches courses focusing on computer networks and on Big Data technologies. He compares his networks class to an essential history course for computer science majors, saying that to understand how the Internet works, one needs to understand its 40-year history. His course on Big Data technologies focuses on an area that has only recently come into existence.

With the surge in data collection and storage and computer processing power in recent years has come a newer idea called deep learning. Big Data allows searching out possible trends and solutions from a huge database, and deep learning involves the question of what would happen if there were multiple supercomputers working together to produce solutions. As Park asks, “would we be able to beat human intelligence?”

He says students need to see the possibilities of Big Data and deep learning because they will affect our future.  

Accelerating the Potential of Big Data

Along with his role as professor, Park has a joint appointment with the Center for Computation and Technology (CCT), which is leading high-performance computing at LSU to operate and maintain supercomputers.

Park teams with other professors at the CCT to combine their knowledge and solve problems. One current research project he is involved in, with National Science Foundation funding, is called “Bridging, Transferring and Analyzing Big Data Over 10Gbps Campus-Wide Software Defined Networks.” It involves work with other senior professors to bring Big Data computational capabilities to research groups on campus. The goal is to enable university researchers to fuel their studies with data-driven technologies and cyberinfrastructure, instead of hypothesis-driven studies.

Park and the rest of the team created software that university research groups can use to access the big data from the two supercomputers located on campus. Park says the supercomputers can be used for efforts including genome-sequencing and biomedical studies. The hope is that with the use of supercomputers, researchers can solve some of the biggest problems we face today. Park says his job with the CCT is to accelerate the potential of Big Data applications, which will help people collaborate and solve those big problems faster.

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