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Interview with vHive Data Scientist Dan Cooper

Who are you?

Hi, I’m Dan Cooper and I’ve just joined vHive as a Data Scientist.

What’s your personal philosophy?

Let’s fix this!

Can you tell us the story of your employment journey?

I’ve worked in a few areas now, although still fresh on the scene. Whilst I was studying Computer Science at Brunel University, I did some part-time I.T. Support at a small sports analytics startup which gave me a real apetite for software development. After university I joined a private software house and began learning commerical software practices and building B2B software solutions from scratch and also redesigning legacy solutions.

How you first got involved in with data science?

All areas of information technology rely on data in some form or another, how it is involved and what it looks like tends to be what differs. Analysing data produced from sport gave me an idea of how computer systems produce data, and how ugly the raw forms often can be. Later I learnt industry techniques for validating and processing that data so that we can digest data in a multitude of forms, into data that can be manipulated and visualised in a way that is useful for users.

What do you find most challenging about data science?

Real world data is not pretty. It doesn’t fit into nicely shaped boxes when it is recorded. Trends and interpretations are never immediately clear. This is challenging because this goes against everything that we need to take from data, and the data can often seem like it’s fighting you. Understanding data and visualising it in a way that creates useful insights is the overall aim of the game, and so when the data is in a form that you can’t use, or it is completely incomprehensible, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What was your first impression of vHive?

My first impression was of an initiative that wanted to make a difference. Taking new and emerging technologies and applying them to real world problems that people are facing on a day-to-day basis. Research, farming, and veterinary practices are all places where technology could be employed to improve the lives of animals and people alike by providing greater insight, better training, and improved clarity around complex conditions.

If you weren’t doing data science, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?

I’m a programmer at heart, so if I wasn’t doing data science I would probably be building something else to fix problems elsewhere. I like to stay busy so I don’t think I would be sat about watching tv. There’s a whole world out there full of interesting and exciting problems that technology can solve, I’d have to get out there and fix them!

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working in data science.

I once worked with a guy who was originally a graphics programmer, and he originally taught me how to code and helped me to build a few simple apps. He showed me what it meant to be passionate about coding and performance, and for building versatile software that can help. One of his many creations was a 3d football pitch that could display the positions of players in relation to the ball and lso update in realtime during the game. That was cool to see in action, and then to be able to include it one of my one project when processing data, that was awesome!

And what has been your biggest achievement or success?

I think passing my degree is my biggest formal achievement to date, but in terms of successes I tend to find a lot of my work as a programmer is made up of little successes. When you’re trying out new technologies and building apps you always hit snags in the road, and discovering a solution can often be a small success.

What’s your must read book?

I tend not to read books so much, as I prefer to spend time reading up on new technologies and where the technology sector is going, so my must read book is the internet!

Who’s your most inspirational person?

I don’t think I have one specific person like a celebrity or someone. I prefer to take inspiration from my peers, they give me ideas and suggestions on a daily basis that inspire me to try out new ideas.

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