New Statistics and Data Science programmes at IIT Kanpur to boost health research

To help students build careers in the analytics industry and pursue higher studies in classical and modern statistics, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has come up with two programmes — a four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) and a five-year dual degree Bachelor of Science-Master of Science (BS-MS) programme in ‘Statistics and Data Science’ to be offered from 2021-22 session by its Department of Mathematics and Statistics. IIT Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar says that the opportunities in retail, banking, energy, telecom, agriculture, health and e-governance sectors make it the right time for students to engage in the field.

Similar to the other dual degree programmes, students would be admitted through the JEE (Advanced) exam. “The BS students, during the course of their programme, will have an option to convert their programme to a 5-year dual degree BS-MS programme wherein they will have the opportunity to do advanced courses in Statistics and Data Science. They would also be required to do 36 credits of thesis, which would involve applied/theoretical projects,” Karandikar explains.

The institute is in the process of setting up the School of Medical Research and Technology (SMRT) that is expected to have a huge repository of data related to health research. “The students would be able to focus on solving real-world problems related to such data to boost research and analytics in this emerging area,” says Karandikar. They would be exposed to various other types of structured and unstructured data related to bioinformatics and digital health, banking and financial data; speech, signal and image processing data; seismological data, to mention a few.


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Course details

The department compulsory (DC) courses would lay the foundation of Fundamental Statistical and Mathematical Courses, Statistics and Data Science Courses and Computational courses. Students would have an option to do up to 36 credits of departmental elective (DE) courses and 63 credits of open elective (OE) courses. Under the OE slots, they can do relevant elective courses offered by the departments of computer science and engineering (CSE) and electrical engineering (EE),” Karandikar explains.

He adds that a student who aspires to clear GATE, UGC-CSIR NET, UPSC and other competitive exams, would receive the required training through these DC and DE courses.

Statistical component

On the benefits of statistics in data science courses, Saurabh Ghosh, professor, Human Genetics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, says, “A combination of exploratory data analyses, understanding of basic statistical theory and computations in statistics is ideally required by most firms that work on analytics including the financial and pharmaceutical sectors. On the other hand, state of the art research in social and biological sciences currently involve data analyses that require these statistical techniques. Hence, inclusion of statistics in data science courses would enhance prospects in corporate as well as research careers.”

Bhupesh Daheria, trustee, CEO, Aegis School of Data Science and Cybersecurity, emphasises that data science courses are all about making sense of the data and applying it to solve real-world problems across sectors in which statistics forms a mandatory part. “The data science base is all about Mathematics where students have to be extremely good at Calculus, Algebra and Statistics to excel in the field. However, a five-year integrated programme may not provide much value-addition, so it is better if students study the 4-year programme before they take on industry roles or go for 2-year master’s course or research,” he adds.

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