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Guy Wiener – Discovering the joy of analytics at HP Labs Israel


Contributed by Simon Firth, freelance technology journalist


gwiener-crop_web.jpgAlthough he works in HP’s Analytics Lab, Guy Wiener’s background is in software engineering, with an emphasis on software modeling. “It’s a way to help people build complex pieces of software by sparing them from having to reinvent basic elements of the program every time,” he explains. Wiener received his B.Sc. in software engineering from The Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in computer science from the Ben-Gurion University in Be'er-Sheva, Israel. After a post-doctoral fellowship at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Wiener joined HP’s Analytics Lab in mid-2012, working in the HP Labs Israel office in Haifa, not far from where he grew up. Wiener’s first research project at HP Labs required applying his skills to an entirely new field: information analytics. “It was actually a lot of fun,” he recalls. “I learned so much.” He’s now planning to stick with analytics for a while.


HP: So how did you end up working in HP’s Analytics Lab?

I was looking for a job during my post-doc and heard that the Analytics Lab was looking for someone who could do large scale software analysis, applying analytic techniques to the properties of software. It was a great opportunity, because I met half of the criteria and I was excited to learn the rest! So I jumped in, and along the way picked up the data analysis, machine learning, and all other analytics skills I needed.


HP: How do you like the data analysis aspect of your work, now that you’ve been doing it for a while?

I’m thrilled about it. I was completely unaware of this field before I joined HP Labs – it’s how academia works: you have a field and you dig deep into it and you don’t look sideways. It’s made me sorry that I hadn’t stumbled on it before because it motivated me to refresh my skills in math and statistics – contrary to my experience in college, these subjects turned out to be pretty cool. Right now, I’m recommending to anyone interested in computer science that they take a look at data analysis because it will make mathematics fun rather than boring.


HP: What’s your current research interest?

We’re looking at trying to understand how changes in cluster computer architecture are going to affect analytics, machine learning, and software development – so although most of the project is about analytics, having a deep background in software development is an advantage. It’s exciting because, for the first time in decades, our computer architecture is actually changing, thanks to innovations being developed at HP Labs and elsewhere. In about five years we’re going to see something totally new in computer science and that makes it a very interesting area in which to work.


HP: What do you enjoy about working at HP Labs?

Well, the working hours are very decent for one thing. I get home before my kids have fallen asleep. But mainly, it’s a chance to be on the front lines – you have to keep up with current technology, you can’t dwell just on one narrow technical question like you might in academia or in mainstream product development., and maybe your project won’t make it through to becoming a product or service, but that’s the nature of the work. And for me, being at the cutting edge is what I’ve been looking for since I got interested in computer science.


HP: How did you get interested in computing?

I think I was about ten-years old or so and my parents gave me a Commodore 64 console, which could do two things: play really crummy video games and do programming in BASIC. After I got bored with the games, I started programming. It stayed a hobby throughout school and then it became my college major.   


HP: What do you like to do outside of work?

I’m a big science fiction fan, and have done some writing of my own. Then I cook when I can, and I like folk music, Irish music especially. 


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