The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jensen to Speak about Computational Ideas and Public Policy at SPP Colloquium

Friday, November 4, 2016

David Jensen, professor of information and computer sciences, will speak Monday, Nov. 7 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in 620 Thompson Hall on “The Larger Role of Computational Thinking in Public Policy.”

The talk is part of the annual faculty colloquium at the School of Public Policy (SPP).

Jensen will address the fundamental question, “What do computer scientists study and how can that knowledge inform public policy?” As is often the case, common answers to that question are clear, simple—and wrong.

Jensen’s talk will offer deeper and more interesting answers to the question and show how stronger collaborations between computer science researchers and practitioners of public policy will be essential in the coming decades to address some of our nation’s most pressing policy issues.

Jensen’s current research focuses on the discovery of causal knowledge from large and complex data sets. His work has multiple applications, including in social network analysis and web mining.

He serves as director of the Knowledge Discovery Laboratory, associate director of the Computational Social Science Institute and is a member of the executive committee of the Center for Data Science. He holds a doctorate in engineering and policy from Washington University, and before coming to UMass Amherst was an analyst with the Office of Technology Assessment, an analytical agency of Congress.

In 2015, Jensen served as a member of the School of Public Policy Advisory Committee, appointed by Provost Katherine Newman to help develop a blueprint for new curricular, teaching and outreach programs in public policy at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus. SPP’s colloquia are generally held monthly each semester and feature UMass Amherst faculty discussing ongoing research that has significant policy implications. All talks are free and open to the public. Brown bag lunches are welcome.

For additional information, go to or contact Susan Newton,