Faculty Profile: Ye Chen, Ph.D., Statistical Sciences and Operations Research

“The amount of available data has been growing tremendously in the last decade along with the development of the internet and hardware. People are more interested in how to analyze and interpret the data.”
Ye Chen

In the popular competitive multiplayer video games, players are matched against other players with similar skill ratings. This ensures that both players have a fun and competitive experience while playing. It may seem like an obvious concept—the concept itself was proposed decades ago—but the consistency of some well-known matchmaking algorithms had never been proven, that is until Ye Chen, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Statistical Sciences & Operations Research undertook the project.

“Previously, people just knew that this algorithm works well but couldn’t explain why it had such good performance,” explains Ye. “My work proposed a general framework that shows the convergence of this algorithm and therefore gives a theoretical support of the validity of the algorithm.” His paper, “Consistency analysis of sequential learning under approximate Bayesian inference” was published in the journal Operations Research this year and was a finalist of the Best Theoretical Award competition at 2016 Winter Simulation Conference.

Ye joined VCU in 2018. While he has always loved mathematics, he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in statistics because of its real-world applications. “The amount of available data has been growing tremendously in the last decade along with the development of the internet and hardware. People are more interested in how to analyze and interpret the data,” says Ye. “I really like solving problems; the moment of solving them gives me great satisfaction.”

Ye currently teaches stochastic processes and stochastic operations research at both the graduate and undergraduate level. A stochastic process is a model used to describe the evolution of some process through time, for example, stock price, temperatures; while stochastic operations research includes a variety of topics, such as simulation and decision analysis. “Teaching lets me think about the same material from a different perspective,” he explains. “It also gives me the opportunity to connect with the students. It is a joy to listen to their fresh ideas and opinions.”

When Ye is not working, you can find him on the soccer field, sampling the restaurants in Richmond or playing video games. And, yes, a personal interest in gaming may have been one of the reasons for Ye’s research. “I know the feeling when a player is matched against an opponent that is way superior—they become upset and angry,” says Ye, “But when you’re matched against someone who is on your level, it’s GAME ON!”

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