As a computer scientist who teaches aspiring MBAs at New York University’s Stern School of Business, Panos Ipeirotis considers himself a renegade. With his thick Greek accent, he explains that while many engineers attend business school as students, few with a Ph.D. in computer science (which he received from Columbia University in 2004) come to B-school as teachers. “I’m out doing something different,” he says.
Ipeirotis’s work aims to maximize the use of human skills and knowledge to improve the functionality of computers, and vice versa. Essentially he helps business school students to handle massive amounts of data, he says, even when the information consists of something other than numbers, such as text, Web pages, and tweets. In the EconoMining Project, which began in 2005, Ipeirotis shows how this kind of data influences people’s decisions—for example, on which camera to buy. A 2011 profile of Ipeirotis featured Tagasauris, a startup he co-founded that bills itself as “the smart way to tag” photos (making them more searchable).