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Weapons of Math Destruction: What Is an Algorithm?

Due to the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 response, many events have been canceled but have not been updated on the calendar. Please contact the event organizer to verify that the event is still taking place before you attend.

April 14, 2016, 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location University Hall - 7th Floor Conference Center
SponsorFeliciano Center for Entrepeneurship & Creative Research CenterCostFree, but please pre-registerPosted InFeliciano Center for Entrepreneurship
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Montclair State's Creative Research Center, the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Residence Life present the Fifth Annual Symposium on the Imagination "Weapons of Math Destruction: What Is an Algorithm?"

Which students should be accepted into which colleges?
What political messages should campaigns send to people on Facebook?
How long should prisoners go to jail?
What advertisements will appeal to you?
What kind of person would you like to date?

These questions used to be determined by people. But in the age of “big data,” they are increasingly being decided by algorithms. In Cathy O’Neil’s talk at Montclair State -- a special preview of her next book, coming out in the fall -- she will explore what algorithms are (and aren’t!), how they are built, their positive and negative effects, and the ways we can examine them for fairness and ethical behavior.

A lively Q&A will follow.

Cathy O'Neil is a data scientist, writer, and activist. She received a math Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a math professor for a time at Barnard College. In 2007 she went to work as a “quant” in finance for a few years before switching over to the tech world. After starting a blog at, she joined Occupy Wall Street and started writing books about data science. Her new book, "Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy," will be released on Sept. 6, 2016 by Crown Books. On Twitter: @mathbabedotorg

6:00-6:45 p.m. Networking with pizza
6:45-7:00 p.m. Welcome
7:00-8:30 p.m. Cathy O'Neil presentation with audience Q&A

Event is presented by Creative Research Center, the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Residence Life.

Event is free and open to the public, but please pre-register at:

Directions and parking info: Park in the Red Hawk Deck on campus, exit the deck on Level 5 and proceed straight up the walkway (soccer field will be on your left). At the new Feliciano School of Business building, turn right and go up the outdoor staircase. University Hall will be straight ahead once you reach the top of the steps. Campus map with directions. (Please note the map in that link is old--the tennis courts shown on the map is where the Feliciano School of Business building now stands.) 

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram: #MSUmeetup and @FelicianoCenter