Cathy O'Neil

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Cathy O'Neil is an American mathematician and the author of the blog mathbabe.org and several books on data science, including Weapons of Math Destruction which was long-listed for the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

O'Neil, a mathematician, analyses how the use of big data and algorithms in a variety of fields, including insurance, advertising, education, and policing, can lead to decisions that harm the poor, reinforce racism, and amplify inequality.

The book received widespread praise for elucidating the consequences of reliance on big data models for structuring socioeconomic resources. Clay Shirky from The New York Times Book Review said "O’Neil does a masterly job explaining the pervasiveness and risks of the algorithms that regulate our lives."

Cathy was the former Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Tow Center and was employed as Data Science Consultant at Johnson Research Labs.

O'Neil attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1999, and afterward held positions in the mathematics departments of MIT and Barnard College, doing research in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She left academia in 2007, and worked for four years in the finance industry, including two years at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw. After becoming disenchanted with the world of finance, O'Neil became involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement, participating in its Alternative Banking Group.


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