Yale Daily News

The Kline Tower Institute, Yale’s newest initiative created with the aim of increasing the stature and presence of the University’s data science offerings, will launch on Oct. 14.

The Yale Corporation voted in 2021 to establish the new data science institute, which will reside in the soon-to-be-renovated Kline Tower. This summer, the Institute recruited close to 50 faculty members to join its ranks and is now set to launch in October. Because Kline Tower is still under renovation, the Institute will not have a physical space until it moves into its permanent home next summer.

“It is certainly a new era for Yale and data science at Yale,” said Amin Karbasi, electrical engineering and computer science professor. “Data science and AI have changed many scientific disciplines in the last couple of years. This is Yale’s timely initiative to be among the top universities in this area … In a nutshell, we will try to establish a university-wide framework of collaboration in data science.”

Karbasi said that the Institute will be a campus focal point for students and faculty who are interested or involved in data analysis and artificial intelligence-guided solutions.

The Institute will mainly support data science activities that cross traditional department lines, with offerings including conferences, workshops, seminars and academic partnerships. Members will span several departments, including statistics and data science, computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics and economics.

Daniel Spielman, institute director and professor of computer science, mathematics and statistics and data science, said that the AI Institute he’s a part of can only meet at Yale because the institute can host it. 

“It enables Yale to play a more central role in the field,” Spielman said.

According to Spielman, having a distinct physical space for the Institute within Kline Tower will help increase the program’s scope and utility. Following the Tower’s renovations, the building is also set to house the mathematics, statistics and data science and astronomy departments — a move that drew mixed reactions from faculty members.

The Institute’s Oct. 14 launch event is set to take place in the Yale Science Building and will feature a series of short talks at the O.C. Marsh Lecture Hall. 

Though the Institute’s planning has been underway for several months, this summer marked significant progress in the development of its organizational structure. In addition to recruiting its first 50 faculty members, the Institute formed multiple committees to manage different aspects of operation.

First and foremost, the Institute assembled a steering committee to provide high-level guidance. The committee is composed of 11 faculty members, including Spielman, University Provost Scott Strobel and Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Jeff Brock, as well as three ex officio members.

The Institute also formed a launch committee, a committee to plan workshops, a committee to run seminars and an executive committee to handle short-term issues. Statistics and data science professor James Emerson, who serves on the launch committee, said that the October event will be a “soft launch” and that there will be a bigger event once the Tower opens.

“[I am] very excited about the new ideas that my faculty colleagues and their labs are working on in terms of fundamental math, statistics and algorithms as they pertain to Data Science and the sorts of applications that are motivating their work,” John Duncan, professor of biomedical engineering, radiology and biomedical imaging, wrote in an email to the News. “I also look forward to sharing my own work and ideas and seeing how they differ or relate to what others are doing.”

Duncan, who serves on both the steering committee and the executive committee for the Institute, said that his committees have recently been working on identifying topics for workshops and “settling on a final name” for the Institute.


Though the Institute has kept its original name thus far, there have been efforts to change it.

Spielman said that institute members recently petitioned the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, to change the name to the Institute for Foundations of Data Science.

Kline Tower was the tallest building in New Haven from 1966 to 1969.

Correction, Sept. 1: A previous version of this article included an incorrect first name for John Duncan.

EVAN GORELICK
Evan Gorelick covers Woodbridge Hall with a focus on the Yale Corporation, endowment, finances and development. He is a Production and Design Editor and previously covered faculty and academics at the News. Originally from Woodbridge, Connecticut, he is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College double-majoring in English and economics.