• Koulik Khamaru

Tell me about yourself
I am an Assistant Professor of Statistics at Rutgers University. Before joining Rutgers, I completed my PhD from University of California, Berkeley under the guidance of two amazing supervisors Professor Martin J. Wainwrightand Professor Michael I. Jordan. Before coming to Berkeley I finished my Undergraduate and Masters in Statistics from Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata .

How did you become interested in statistics?
I was always interested in maths during my high school. I started to enjoy statistics because of its immediate application to solve real world problems.

As a student, did you do undergraduate research?
Yes, I did multiple research projects on both applied and theoretical statistics. One of my favorite undergraduate projects was analyzing brain imaging data from seizure patients.

What are you researching? (in layman’s)
In many real-life scenarios, we sequentially perform tasks, meaning that we keep improving our decision-making strategies by learning from past mistakes. These types of decision-making strategies are formally known as sequential decision-making or reinforcement learning, and recently they have seen tremendous applications in robotics, self-driving cars, online recommendations, and online advertising to name a few. In many models in statistics and machine learning, we often assume that our data collection method does not depend on past history, and consequently, in many sequential decision-making problems, standard statistical strategies may fail because decisions are heavily dependent on previous data points. My goal is to understand when and how we can modify statistical methods which provide meaningful conclusions in these sequential decision-making scenarios.

What are you excited about in joining Rutgers University?
Rutgers has always been well-known for its strong statistics, computer science, math and business school. I am really excited to work with some of my colleagues and learn the exciting things they are doing.  

Anything else you would like to add
I like travelling, hiking and enjoy making Bengali food.