Şirin Tekinay

Invited Speaker

Professor Şirin Tekinay
Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences
Kadir Has University, Turkey

Professor Sirin Tekinay is the Dean of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey. After a 20-year career in the U.S., she returned to her home country to serve as the Founding Vice Rector for Research at Ozyegin University, Istanbul, for three years. Previously, she was Tenured Faculty of electrical and computer engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 2005, she joined the United States National Science Foundation as Program Director, where she served as the Founding Chair of the 750 M USD Program called “Cyber Enabled Discovery and Innovation,” in addition to managing her home program for communications and other multidisciplinary and inter-agency programs. She holds a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from George Mason University, Virginia, and M.S. and B.S. degrees in electrical-electronics engineering from Bogazici University, Istanbul. Prof. Tekinay holds nine patents and has authored numerous publications in her field. She has graduated six doctoral students. Her areas of interest include network science, mobile networks, sensor networks, and applications.

Title: “Open Access in the Data- Research-Computation-Information Pyramid”


We formulate a reference framework of a triangular pyramid where information is the apex, as the end result produced by the base whose vertices are data, research and computation. A closer look reveals the bi-directionality of all edges in the pyramid. As such, one can conclude the pyramid is a self-contained system of R&D with information as the product; may it be technological products or scientific insights. However, the requirements for computational infrastructure to process big data, or produce information in real time necessitates external funding; acquisition of data necessitates external portals, and conducting research necessitates collaborations across disciplines and physical distances.

As a result, rolling the pyramid around, no matter which vertex ends up, there are external connections and dependencies. Each vertex, in its own right can be viewed as the apex drawing from the other three; so there is no right side up as far as this pyramid is concerned.

The very research work, to solve 21st century problems, requires virtual organizations that are comprised of members at geographical and disciplinary distances to each other. The human members may belong to different institutions or firms, and maybe countries. Such collaboration is burdened by national borders, and confidentiality issues. These obstacles are somewhat remedied by mobility programs, nondisclosure agreements and memoranda of understanding and hopefully, academic collegiality. Examples of facilitating research collaborations include European Commission’s mobility programs.

The physical and computational infrastructure to tackle 21st century engineering problems that need to collect and process data in real time is, more often than not, made up of shared, distributed resources. This may in turn present at best bureaucratic legwork of bench fees and intellectual property agreements. Examples of shared research infrastructure include Turkish Government Planning Agency’s (DPT) Central Laboratory Facilities.

Even if we assumed no research collaborations and sufficient infrastructure on-premises, there is clearly the need to feed the pyramid with funding to collect data, to do research, to have and maintain research infrastructure and to produce or publish. Whether the end result is a product, design, know-how, service, prototype, proof of concept, theory, or information, data acquisition is usually the most costly and, when conducted towards a singular, specific purpose, the most cost-inefficient part of the budget. Long gone are the days of Bell Labs, where the AT&T monopoly generated sufficient monetary resources to keep the entire pyramid in house. Even defense R&D will often consider ways of dual use, so as to cut expenses.

Simulated data is but a precursor to experimentation or analysis with real data.

Aside from the financial burden and general repetition of effort in collecting data, there is an ethical side to containing it within the bounds of an institution when the funding is obtained from pools of taxpayers’ money administered by government agencies or sponsors that have public shareholders. The US National Science Foundation has recorded successful examples of not only open access to data but also to the methods of deriving information and, in turn, knowledge, from data.

Both virtual organizations and computational infrastructures have been enabled by the 20th century digital revolutions of Computation and Communication. The 21st century digital revolution is that of Manufacturing. Like the other former two, the latter is an example of localized, individualized, and finally personal output: digital technology has allowed for the personal computer and anytime-anywhere personal communication. Personal manufacturing is in its preliminary stage, propagating around the globe primarily as Fabrication Laboratories (FabLabs) providing local, if not personal, manufacturing capabilities. Digital manufacturing uses as input 3D design data. Very deservingly, as it has started as a bottom up civil movement to democratize technology; all design data is mandatorily open to the global FabLab network. Such wealth of data facilitates the feedback loop between information and enriched data.

Indeed, one can conceive of a self-contained pyramid even to possess personal manufacturing workshop. However, with the global FabLab network taking advantage of open access and shared resources placed in the heart of the FabLab charter, it is near impossible to compete with the endlessly expanding portfolio of creativity at nano to mega scales. These are the makings of a revolution, a massive and seemingly sudden change on the face of civilization, as opposed to the slow evolution of a closed system.

This talk will place the proverbial pyramid in the context of the next digital revolution and explore how each of the vertices is indeed a portal for open access in order to usher in the next phase in our lives; the social, economic, cultural impacts to transportation, inventory, logistics, supply chains, and things we hopefully cannot imagine at this point.