Professor Way Kuo, President of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), encouraged graduates of National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Taiwan to find solutions for problems by obtaining useful information through the analysis of big and small data.
He was speaking at the commencement ceremony of NCTU on 1 June, delivering a talk titled “What can data tell us?”
President Kuo pointed out that we generally needed enough data in order to draw a conclusion on a case. However, when he worked at the Bell Laboratories in the US, his supervisor asked him to provide a conclusion on the reliability of a new product even without any data. He then understood that he could do so by referring to similar products and other people’s experience.
He said that the analysis of big data could reveal a lot of valuable information. However, ordinary people could only understand the meaning behind the data through analysis performed by experts. Such analysis could bring huge benefits. For example, it helped the advancement of Taiwan’s agricultural industry, Germany winning the 2014 World Cup, and Donald Trump being elected the 45th president of the US. Also, the rise of cloud computing was due to the emergence of big data.
“Even without data, we can still draw on other people’s experience to make a conclusion on a case,” President Kuo said. “If there’s no data and no others’ experience, no need to worry. It’s because no data sometimes is a kind of data itself. Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity without any data or others’ experience.”
When talking about education, President Kuo pointed out that there were different opinions due to insufficient data. Many conclusions were made without data analysis but only subjective judgement based on personal experience.
He also indicated that the future prospect of a person was not determined by his or her academic results. We have often seen that a person with excellent academic results may not have any special individual achievements, while a person with fair academic performance may become a successful leader. There are many factors for a person’s success, and academic performance is only one of them.
President Kuo quoted an earlier remark by Professor Frank Chang Mau-chung, President of NCTU, at the commencement ceremony: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thus a person’s success is not only due to academic results but also determined by other factors such as teamwork, moral character, health, honesty and diligence.
At the end of his talk, President Kuo encouraged students to go beyond their degree studies. They should continue to explore, apply what they learned, work hard with known data, and be conscientious. Then they could ultimately become an expert.