Guang Cheng

Guang Cheng

Guang Cheng; Associate Professor, Statistics (Wisconsin; Statistics; 2006)

Dr. Guang Cheng is a highly productive young professor in Purdue Statistics, receiving over $2 million in grants and awards.  His determination “to be open minded and keep curiosity in all directions” has directed his career and research, evidenced also by his educational background.

Guang graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China with a Bachelor ofArtsdegree in Economics.  After which, he worked in investment banking for a year.  His natural curiosity, personal drive for success, and affinity for mathematics led him to apply for a variety of Ph.D. programsranging from statistics, mathematics, tofinance.  He decided to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a Ph.D. advised by Professor Michael Kosorok in the area of semi-parametric statistics with a particular focus on Bayesian procedures; which he completed his PhD degree within 3 years.

While his PhD thesis was on Bayesian statistics, he didn’t want to isolate the focus of his research during his post doc at SAMSI.  He claims to have “frequentist eyes with Bayesian hands”, so he searched for his own topic without a post docadvisor.  This path, without an advisor,was very difficult in the short term, but ultimately rewarded him with the techniques and tools for success as an independent researcher.

Guang brought this self-motivation to Purdue Statistics.  With the support of a large department, Guang has benefitted from the encouragement of fellow faculty members with strengths in diverse areas including mathematical statistics, applied statistics, machine learning, and interdisciplinary research.  This cultivation has resulted in his early promotion to Associate Professor withtenure in 2013, with his feature work in bootstrapping, where he theoretically justified using bootstrapfor semi-parametric inferences.

After his promotion, Guang switched his focus to Big Data theory, machine learning and high dimensional data analysis.  In January of 2013, he returned to SAMSI as a research fellow leading one of their Massive Data groups.  After which, he went on sabbatical at Princeton where he spent an academic year as a Visiting Fellow working in theirOperations Research and Financial Engineering department on Big Data theory.  This new research frontier is currently being used by Industry like of Amazon and Google to analyze the data that results from tracking each mouse click of internet users. 

Due to the availability of parallel computing environments, the divide-and-conquer (D&C) approach becomes a standard tool in analyzing massivedata. This naïveapproach is computationally scalable, but imposes new challenges in statistical analysis especially when the number of underlying sub-populations grows rapidly. In particular, Dr. Cheng and his collaborators are working on the Computational and Statistical trade-off in this D&C framework.

Guang’s focus on cultivating curiosity in new directions of research paired with his ambition has been highly rewarded.  Currently, he has multiple diverse sources of funding, his active grants include:

  • Office of Naval Research, 2015-2018, Sole PI: This grant supports the studies of "Statistical and Computational Trade-offs in Massive Data." It currently sponsors a postdoc Dr. He Jiang.
  • Clinical and Translational Science Institute, 2015-2016, Co-PI: This is a planning grant that supports the studies of "Big Data Inference for Survival Data."
  • NSF DMS-1418202, 2014-2017, Lead PI: This grant supports an interdisciplinary project: "Semiparametric ODE Models for Complex Gene Regulartory Network." and will support his PhD student Ms. Meimei Liu who is working on a related project.
  • Simons Fellowship in Mathematics, 2014-2015, Sole PI: This Fellowship sponsoredhissabbatical at Princeton in 2014-2015. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Cheng is the first and only statistician who receives this prestigious fellowship in mathematics.
  • NSF CAREER AwardDMS-1151692, 2012-2017, Sole PI: From 2013, this grant has supported Guang’s students Ms. Zhuqing Yu, Mr. Wei Sun (graduated this year, currently a Research Scientist at Yahoo!), and will continue to support other PhD students in his group.

Dr. Guang Cheng’s research program is focused on groundbreaking research in the area of Big Data Theory.  He welcomes new Purdue collaborations and can be reached via email: Please also check out his Big Data Theory (BaT) group. You will enjoy a conversation with his Batmen.