Team Spotlight: Rob Churchill, Head of Data Science
5-Out is thrilled to welcome Rob Churchill to the team as our new Head of Data Science!
5-Out is thrilled to welcome Rob Churchill to the team as our new Head of Data Science! Rob earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgetown University with research interests in data mining and machine learning. He is joining the 5-Out team to continue to improve upon our machine-learning models, providing restaurant operators with even more accurate and granular forecasts.
Read on to learn more about Rob!
Tell us a bit about your background.
For the past six years, I've been working on my Master’s and then Ph.D. in Computer science at Georgetown. My dissertation topic was modernizing topic models to account for noise, time, and sparsity. Essentially what that means is I was working on unsupervised machine learning for text data.
What is unsupervised machine learning?
The traditional machine learning that people hear about is supervised, meaning it learns by looking at labeled examples. With unsupervised machine learning, you don't give the model labeled examples, you just set the model’s parameters and give it the data and see how well the model can do in terms of detecting patterns in the data.
How did you join 5-Out?
I had previously worked with 5-Out’s CTO, Mike at another startup and he asked me to join the 5-Out team. I was interested in 5-Out’s potential to support the restaurant industry employers and operators.
I started working here part-time in January, focused on setting up a methodology to judge how well our models are doing. We now have a good baseline of the accuracy of our model that we can build upon.
What interested you about the restaurant industry?
Growing up, I worked in restaurants at the Jersey shore over the summers. I got to learn a little bit about the business and see how technology can be really impactful to restaurant operations.
What will you focus on in your full-time role with 5-Out?
My main goal is to improve upon those baseline models and get a little more sophisticated in what we're doing on the machine-learning side. That’s not just in the models, but also in the data that we're using, improving both the quality of the data and adding new sources like events, reservations, inventory, etc.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I'm a big surfer, kite surfer, and skier. I've played hockey my whole life! I like the balance between hockey as my team sport and surfing and skiing as my solo sports.
What's your favorite restaurant?
Bageleddis in Ship Bottom, NJ!