7 p.m. in the Emert Auditorium (Room 130) of the Eccles Science Learning Center on the USU campus. (For directions, click here.)


Join us Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 pm for "Seeing the Forest for the Trees." Featured speaker is Utah State University statistician and mathematician Richard Cutler.


"Seeing the Forest for the Trees"

Today’s computing devices offer countless apps at our fingertips, providing us with all kinds of information and ways to make our lives easier. These applications range from simple to very complex, but each started with simple numerical concepts.

 Friday, Oct. 10, Utah State University’s Science Unwrapped welcomes USU statistician Richard Cutler, who’ll share easy ways to represent information and gain more accurate predictions at 7 p.m. in the Emert Auditorium (Room 130) of the Eccles Science Learning Center.

 Professor and head of USU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Cutler presents “Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Dichotomous Trees and Random Forests.” His talk, followed by hands-on learning activities, exhibits and refreshments, is free and open to all ages.

 “Beginning at an early age, many math students are introduced to the concept of dichotomous or binary trees,” Cutler says. “These trees turn out to be incredibly useful in computer science and statistics.”

 In his talk, Cutler will explain how he uses dichotomous trees to predict the presence or absence of species of plants in a given region and, using relatively small numbers of observation, builds large vegetation maps using satellite imagery.

 “We use a lot of these binary trees in our work — hence, creating a ‘forest’ — and the way the subsets of data and characteristics are chosen gives us ‘random forests,’’ he says.

Such methods are used in a wide range of computing applications to help scientists organize data and further their research.

 Hosted by the College of Science, Cutler’s presentation is the second of three presentations in Science Unwrapped’s fall 2014 “Matter of Patterns” series.

 “Throughout nature, patterns such as trees, chains, spirals and symmetries emerge with surprising frequency,” says Nancy Huntly, Science Unwrapped chair, director of USU’s Ecology Center and professor in the Department of Biology. “This fall, we’re examining this phenomenon from a variety of scientific disciplines.”