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By Morgan Holmes

Pawel Pralat

The Department of Mathematics' Dr. Pawel Pralat

The Department of Mathematics’ Dr. Pawel Pralat currently holds the title of the researcher in the field of mathematics with the most number of NSERC Engage Grants to his name – seven since he was hired at Ryerson four years ago. Engage Grants support short-term research and development (R&D) projects that bring post-secondary researchers on board to help find solutions to companies’ specific challenges.

In Dr. Pralat’s case, he deploys his expertise in the swiftly growing field of graph theory. This multidisciplinary field entails modelling and searching complex networks, with applications as diverse as target-marketing, online dating, urban planning and pharmaceutical development.

The list of Dr. Pralat’s Engage-supported partnerships features an array of Canadian firms and data-related challenges:

·         Relationship-mapping analytics for fundraising and sales prospect research (in progress, 2015-16): In this project, which begins on September 1, 2015, Dr. Pralat will be working with Charter Press let to develop sophisticated machine-learning algorithms and data-mining tools that will support the mapping of potential donors with organizations.

·         Utilizing Big Data for business-to-business (B2B) matching and recommendation system (completed, 2014-15): With ComLinked Corp. (an online B2B platform), Dr. Pralat helped develop the company’s core set of algorithms useful for recommending companies to other companies.

·         A self-organizing dynamic network model increasing the efficiency of outdoor digital billboards (completed 2014):  KEEN Projection Media Ltd. needed a dynamic system capable of assigning user requests to specific billboards and optimizing the network in a self-organizing manner. That’s where Dr. Pralat’s modelling expertise stepped into the picture.

·         Exploiting Big Data for a customized online news recommendation system (completed, 2014): Also with The Globe and Mail, Dr. Pralat combined Big Data and advanced algorithms to generate a system capable of offering personalized content recommendations to online readers.

·         Personalized mobile recommender system (completed, 2013-14):  Dr. Pralat developed a series of recommendation algorithms to enhance the mobile user experience for BlackBerry.

·         Intelligent rating system (completed, 2012-13): Dr. Pralat designed a series of formulas and algorithms for Mako to map a new artificial intelligence rating system that uses advanced statistical and technological indicators to determine a reviewed subject’s ranking.

·         Dynamic clustering and predication of taxi service demand (completed, 2012): The goal of this project was to enable Winston (a limousine service) to use aggregated data collected by its mobile phone app to improve the ability to allocate drivers’ locations in order to maximize coverage and minimize passengers’ wait times.

“Professor Pralat has worked with a number of companies through Engage Grants, with each project representing the start of a new research collaboration,” says Pamela Moss, the interim vice-president, research partnerships, at NSERC. “His work shows how disciplines like mathematical sciences that, to date, have had relatively limited participation in NSERC Research Partnership grants, can find such projects beneficial. Researchers can apply their expertise in areas like mathematical modelling to solve company problems, which in turn provides a foundation for the future research directions.”

Dr. Pralat’s Engage-funded research is on top of support from the OCE Talent Edge Fellowship Program. In this project, Dr. Pralat is collaborating with The Globe and Mail to create a machine learning and Big Data solution to determine engagement and then to optimize its website. In addition, on September 1, 2015, he will be beginning a collaboration with the Tutte Institute for Mathematics and Computing.

Discover more about Dr. Pralat’s application of pure mathematics to solving real-world issues in this short video.

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