New professor's research predicts links between people on social networks

Assistant Professor of Information Systems Donghyuk Shin analyzes connections — as in, between two people — that form in social networks, such as in the 'people you may know' feature on Facebook and LinkedIn.

By Jenny Keeler

Donghyuk Shin left industry for academics and is one of the newest assistant professors.

Shin, who was a machine learning scientist at Amazon Web Services, joined the information systems department in 2019. Shin received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.

His research interests focus on machine learning, business analytics, social media, recommender systems, and online platforms.

“My research interest lies in the intersection of machine learning and information systems, focusing on leveraging machine learning to solve business problems and applications,” he explains.

Shin’s research has led to a published paper about predicting new links — as in, between two people — that form in social networks. An example of this is the “people you may know” feature on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The real satisfaction comes in the classroom for Shin. He enjoys explaining ideas to his students and seeing them grasp a new concept. When his students do well on exams or quizzes, Shin shares in their success.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study machine learning and information systems?

Answer: Actually, there wasn't an "aha" moment and everything just unrolled as I progressed through my undergrad and graduate studies. I majored in computer science in undergrad and only had a rough idea that I wanted to do something with data at that time.

Q: What courses do you teach at W. P. Carey?

A: I teach CIS 325: Programming for Business Analytics

Q: What surprises you about the students?

A: I was surprised at how students come from extremely diverse backgrounds. Learning about each student and trying to help them, not just academically, as much as I can is quite fulfilling.

Q: What’s your teaching philosophy and what do you like about teaching in general?

A: I believe that learning by examples and learning by doing are the two most effective ways to be successful in teaching. These approaches encourage active student engagement and help students absorb difficult topics more effectively. When it comes to teaching, I like the quote, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students?

A: Exploration and exploitation. While you learn about many different areas (exploration), it is also great to have a more focused experience or knowledge about a few selected ones (exploitation). These are terms used in the field of machine learning that applies to life as well.

Q: What do you like most about ASU and W. P. Carey?

A: I like the strong emphasis on inclusiveness, which I think is one of the main strengths of ASU. I also like the collaborative atmosphere and community created by the students, staff, and faculty members.

Q: What's one moment or accomplishment in your academic career that stands out to you?

A: Publishing my first paper

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Cure for cancer

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: Rebooting AI by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis

Q: What are your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?

A: I like hiking and playing video games. I recently started to learn golf.

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