02/04/2024

Successful Workshop at FGV combines Mathematics and Industry

For a week, the event challenged students and teachers to test mathematical solutions to real problems.

With the purpose of encouraging interaction between academia and industry, the School of Applied Mathematics of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV EMAp) organized, between January 29th and February 2nd, the “Mathematics in Industry” workshop. This was the first edition of the meeting, which aims to increase integration between FGV's academic activities and the challenges of industry and professionals in the field in the job market.

Workshop “Matemática na Indústria” da FGV EMAp teve saldo positivo com soluções de alunos para problemas de empresas do mercado - Foto: Divulgação

Workshop “Mathematics in Industry” at FGV EMAp had a positive result with student solutions to problems faced by companies in the market

The workshop is aimed at professionals from the productive sector and other areas of knowledge, postgraduate students, final year undergraduate students and researchers with training in Mathematics, Statistics, Data Science, Computing and related areas.

Professores da FGV EMAp supervisionaram equipes de profissionais durante o workshop - Foto: Divulgação

Subtitle 2 - FGV EMAp professors supervised teams of professionals during the workshop

FGV witnessed the organization of working groups with the participation of students, professors, researchers and professionals from public and private companies. Each group was dedicated to a specific problem proposed by the companies participating in the workshop. The solutions were presented on the last day.

Five problems were proposed by the institutions participating in the workshop, focusing on agribusiness, energy, oncology, combating dengue fever and judicial assets. Each of them was supervised by a professor from FGV EMAp.

In total, 54 students registered, in addition to the School's teachers and professionals from companies who were present at the event. Students from the states of Alagoas, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo, Tocantins and the Federal District were present, as well as students from Peru.

Challenges addressed

In the agribusiness sector, Professor Dário Oliveira supervised a team of Bioflore developers, in which deep learning models were explored for the automatic mapping of tree species in the Cerrado. The models use very high resolution RGB images obtained by drones with forest inventory data as input data.

>Apresentação da empresa Bioflore por Dário Oliveira, professor da FGV EMAp - Foto: Divulgação

Presentation of the company Bioflore by Dário Oliveira, professor at FGV EMAp

“The idea was to fly a drone over the forest and take notes from the available images and estimate data for the entire desired forest area. The objective is to use Artificial Intelligence to be able to find the population of trees in that area for each species and scale this method to huge areas”, adds Dário, making the process faster and less costly than usual.

The group related to the energy sector was supervised by Professor Bernardo Freitas Paulo da Costa. The participating company was the National Electric System Operator (ONS), the body responsible for coordinating, controlling and planning the operation of electrical energy generation and transmission facilities in Brazil.

Operation planning is carried out with the support of a chain of three main computational models, covering successively smaller time horizons and resolutions and coupled by the passage of future cost functions.

Sessão de trabalho do tema Otimização em Energia com a ONS - Foto: Divulgação

Work session on the topic of Energy Optimization with ONS

In this context, unit commitment decisions, which activate a generation resource for a minimum number of stages, are not adequately considered if taken at the end of the horizon, as the cost functions are unprepared for this type of side effect. Therefore, the challenge consisted of proposing a modification of the coupling between models capable of considering the side effects of such decisions.

Regarding the topic of judicial assets, Professor Jorge Poco was in charge of accompanying members of Primo Capital, a Recife-based company specializing in the acquisition of Federal food court orders for individuals throughout Brazil. One of the problems faced by the group is related to the effectiveness of its commercial operations in the market.

Sessão de trabalho do tema de ativos jurídicos com a empresa recifense Primo Capital - Foto: Divulgação

Working session on the topic of legal assets with the Recife company Primo Capital

Currently, commercial operators operate randomly across the customer base, which is quite broad and has a super active team. This increases the likelihood of underutilization of strategic opportunities.

Therefore, in the workshop, the team of students split up to focus on exploratory analysis of numerical and categorical data and the development of a decision model. Several classification models were tested, including logistic regression and random forest, culminating in a promising decision model, although limited to the data available at the event.

The results lead Primo Capital to consider an ongoing partnership with the FGV EMAp team, with plans already underway for long-term projects and future meetings to define development strategies.

Therefore, the advance proposed by the participants was the creation of a prospecting model that classifies the customer base based on relevance. Thus, Primo Capital would have at its disposal a more strategic and efficient approach towards its clients, directing and optimizing its efforts towards cases with the highest probability of converting leads.

The health sector gave rise to two very broad themes that generated great debates: Natural Language Processing (NLP) to extract events of interest to the navigation of patients in the Oncology area and data classification to optimize treatment against dengue.

Professor Guilherme Tegoni Goedert was responsible for the topic related to Oncology in partnership with the Conceição Hospital Group. Using anonymized databases of medical texts, the proposal was to identify priority events in the treatment of cancer patients, develop a personalized instance of the OLIM software and implement an interface to feed the patient navigation system with results.

Apresentação do tema de navegação de pacientes oncológicos, tema supervisionado por Guilherme Tegoni Goedert, Professor da FGV EMAp - Foto: Divulgação

Presentation of the topic of oncology patient navigation, topic supervised by Guilherme Tegoni Goedert, Professor at FGV EMAp

The aim was to provide more effective control for cancer patients in low-income countries. “In a week of workshop, we were able to immerse ourselves in this problem. We spend hours and hours analyzing patient records to understand the problem in more depth. This is something that would take months to achieve in the normal way and we would run the risk of making several mistakes. Therefore, this week was extremely valuable as it served as an accelerator for us to formulate the problems and produce a viable product”, celebrates Goedert.

Finally, the fifth theme explored at the event was related to the classification of dengue data in Florianópolis, supervised by Professor Luiz Max Fagundes de Carvalho. The Health Department of the capital of Santa Catarina, through doctor Ana Cristina Vidor, brought the following demand: how to accurately classify dengue cases?

The problem listed for the workshop was the development of a panel with the characteristics of cases labeled as “under investigation”. The aim was to develop operational strategies that speed up the process, compare such characteristics with confirmed and discarded cases and establish the probability of confirmation of occurrences, allowing a more accurate prediction model for Florianópolis.

Apresentação do tema Confirmação de casos de Dengue no workshop da FGV - Foto: Divulgação

Presentation of the topic Confirmation of Dengue cases at the FGV workshop

During the event, five students, from undergraduate to doctoral, and a postdoctoral researcher divided themselves into two primary tasks: data exploration and modeling. Mathematical models based on ordinary differential equations were constructed to make projections of the pre-test probability for an epidemiological week using data from previous weeks.

The team intends, in the future, to set up local alert systems that exchange information and technology with FGV EMAp's Infodengue project in partnership with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and with funding from the Ministry of Health.

Positive impression

For its first edition, the “Mathematics in Industry” workshop exceeded the expectations of both the FGV organization and the companies. In total, the event brought together 54 participants, including undergraduate and postgraduate students who returned home excited about the luggage acquired throughout the week.

For Bernardo, the workshop week served as a kind of intensive for several students to focus on solving real problems, one of the core of Applied Mathematics.

“The feedback was very good. All companies were very satisfied with the work and the academic quality that FGV EMAp put into practice. All considerations were positive in relation to the partnerships that could come from the work started at the Workshops. Students came and went very excited about contacting companies to solve problems and even contacting other students from other institutions. It was also quite rewarding to see the students working and, in a way, gaining a certain independence”, he says.

Workshop da FGV possibilitou interação entre alunos, professores e profissionais do mercado - Foto: Divulgação

FGV workshop enabled interaction between students, teachers and market professionals

In turn, Luiz Max believes that the objective of the workshop reinforces the importance of FGV's mission, which is to foster the development of Brazil and encourage greater interaction between the School's activities and civil society.

“FGV EMAp is part of FGV’s commitment to making Applied Mathematics, in fact, applied, a Mathematics that gives a positive return directly to society with all the difficulties they bring. It is very difficult to translate practical problems into research, because either you solve practical problems or you do research problems. Beauty occurs when you find a problem that is complex enough to give rise to academic research and is also important to give a more immediate return to society”, analyzes the researcher.

Goedert corroborates this by expressing the importance of Applied Mathematics for different sectors of society. “It is quite difficult to do Applied Mathematics. Bridging the gap between frontline professionals, doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, administrators and mathematicians, information scientists, Artificial Intelligence specialists. There are many processes that outsiders cannot imagine and need to be informed in order to create a critical sense in resolving these problems. This interactive communication, this interactive language to solve a problem objectively, takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. Therefore, this workshop made a huge difference for everyone involved”, he says.

The outcome of the workshop creates a seed for a long-term partnership between FGV EMAp and the companies involved. This is the vision of Poco, one of the researchers active throughout the event in 2024.

“The companies were very satisfied and the event opens up the possibility of a more long-term partnership. Because a week is a very short time. Companies are aware that that result was satisfactory for a period of one week, but they clearly have the objective of seeing what can be done over a longer period of time”, he says.

Finally, Dário understands that the meeting was very productive for professionals to understand how Applied Mathematics facilitates processes in their respective company. “The company's two developers were probably the most qualified people the company had from a mathematical point of view, but they were people with an Agronomy background. They obviously know a little about Statistics, which helps a lot, but there is always the challenge of finding a common dialogue, which is a challenge of this event. Therefore, I believe that the initiative was very successful, as it brings together different backgrounds. I think it was much better than we imagined”, acknowledges the FGV EMAp researcher.

Agility and proactivity of FGV students impressed

Engineer of Methodologies and Models at ONS, Lucas de Souza Khenayfis remembers that the entity coordinates one of the main energy responsibilities in Brazil, as it takes care of supply at the most affordable price. And the activity carried out at FGV EMAp was extremely important to explore horizons towards the evolution of the company's activities.

“ONS coordinates which plants will generate energy so that we can serve the whole of Brazil with energy security, and at the lowest possible price. This is done based on mathematical models that are constantly evolving. We brought to the event one of the evolution openings underway today and we wanted to see ideas that FGV could bring, possible solutions, improvements to make energy calculation safer and cheaper. And I can tell you that I was very impressed”, says Khenayfis.

ONS ficou impressionado com as soluções propostas por alunos da FGV em workshop e avalia parceria futura - Foto: Divulgação

ONS was impressed by the solutions proposed by FGV students in the workshop and evaluates future partnership

“The topic of the electricity sector is quite specific. Few people have heard of ONS, much less what we do. And the students in the workshop understood quickly and, on the first day, were able to create a small programmed prototype. In other words, they already had an understanding of the problem and a clear and purposeful work plan. I was very impressed by the agility and there is the possibility of continuing this work, as it is at the top of ONS's short-term priorities”, adds the engineer, opening doors for FGV EMAp students to promote their projects at ONS.

2025 edition is very promising

The high rate of participants and the excellent feedback from society in the inaugural edition of the workshop means that FGV is already planning the next one. FGV EMAp's intention is to hold the event annually, as it will be part of the Summer Program activity cycle, between January and February.

“From what I heard of praise from the people who made the presentations, all the considerations were positive in relation to the partnerships that could come from the work started at the workshop. We are fortunate that our team is made up of researchers from different areas. So, the expectation is that in 2025 the participation of companies will be even greater and with the prospect of partnerships with more institutions in the medium and long term. And all of this makes us even more excited for the next edition”, concludes Bernardo.

It is clear that this event did not, in fact, end at the beginning of February. The “Mathematics in Industry” workshop is also the beginning of concrete partnerships between academia and industry, confirming FGV EMAp once again at the center of the process.

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