From astrophysics to data science- Interview with Cian Vaughan

We are living in the age of artificial intelligence, where predictive models drive and transform how businesses operate. At Arvoia, behind this cutting-edge technology, there’s a team of data scientists who provide critical analysis and recommendations throughout the product lifecycle. 

Today, we want to introduce you to one of our data scientists, Cian Vaughan, who recently joined the team. Cian is an astrophysicist that’s passionate about data, so we wanted to dig deeper and learn more about his career, and his role as a data scientist at Arvoia.

Read on for the full interview.

 
Welcome, Cian! Tell us a bit about yourself.

C: My name is Cian Vaughan, and I am originally from Co. Clare, but I’m based in Dublin now. I did my undergraduate in astrophysics and went on to do a master’s in data analytics. Since then, I have mostly worked in data science in the financial and education sectors until I joined Arvoia a couple of weeks ago.

 

Can you tell us more about your career path?

C: Astrophysics is a lot about inferring things from observation. Since we can’t construct controlled experiments with stars and galaxies, a lot of our knowledge has to be gathered through observation and statistics. This is very similar to what a data scientist must do. When presented with a deluge of data, can you find the signal in the noise? Determining what a true signal is or what patterns represent genuine underlying phenomena is where the statistics come in. This creates what we call a model; it is our representation of what is happening. As the statistician George Box said: “all models are wrong, but some are useful”. They are overly-simplified versions of reality, a rough approximation that allows us to make predictions. Since you can never be certain of any prediction, we are constantly working with probabilities.

 

Our data science team works to retrain our AI models
 
 
Tell us about your role: what does a day in the life of a data scientist at Arvoia entail?

C: It is a bit of a mix of detective work and farming. You are up early in the morning to check on each of your models. See how they are doing or if any of them need your help. Are some underperforming? Maybe they could be fed some fresh data? We call this “retraining”. Are there any other underlying issues at play? This is where the detective work comes in — uncovering any unusual customer behaviour. After that, there is the investigation into possible new models for different audiences to account for novel activity we’re noticing. Finally, consideration can be given to more long-term strategies. What potential products would benefit from machine learning? What part of the customer’s journey could be enhanced through predictive AI?

 

How do Data Scientists bring value to Arvoia, and how does that end up benefiting Arvoia's customers?

C: Ultimately, the data scientist’s job is to find patterns in data. Once a pattern is uncovered, you can cater to it. This could be related to customer behaviour, purchasing habits, their preferences, or customising each user’s experience. Then, we use these insights to present customers with the most relevant hotel or suggest the most suitable offer.

 

What do you find interesting about your role and working directly with AI?

C: I love working with AI because it combines time-tested classical statistics methods with bleeding-edge technologies to create a whole new discipline. While the mathematics under the hood is nothing altogether new, the ability to deliver this analysis at scale is enabled through new tech stacks, such as powerful parallel computing and distributed cloud services.

 

Did you discover anything interesting or unexpected about the work?

C: I didn’t expect how much it would unearth about human nature. Understanding human behaviour and psychology plays as important a role as tuning your model’s hyperparameters. It’s not enough to train a super-optimised multi-layer neural network with incredible performance statistics if you don’t understand the customers’ needs. Sometimes data science can be more art than science, particularly when the rubber hits the road and you try to apply your models to the real world.

 

Thank you, Cian, for your time!

 

Besides the data science team, every member at Arvoia works hard to elevate the hospitality industry

 

About Arvoia

Founded in 2014 and based in Kerry, Ireland, Arvoia is a world leader in AI solutions for the hospitality industry. Arvoia’s AI platform transforms booking engines and websites for hotels and hotel chains across the globe, by giving hoteliers access to sophisticated AI technology similar to that of major OTA’s. The Arvoia AI platform enables hotels to deliver an enhanced and hyper-relevant booking experience without any tech investment with the platform working seamlessly across all existing technology and booking engines.

Do you want to be part of Arvoia? Check our open positions and join our team.

If you want to learn more about Arvoia, contact a member of our team:

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