Jalal Mahmud

Jalal Mahmud, Data Science Thought Leader at IBM

Jalal Mahmud brings deep natural language processing (NLP) expertise to the University of California, Santa Cruz. He’s been a research scientist at IBM since completing his Ph.D. in computer science at SUNY Stony Brook in 2008. Since 2014, he has been managing teams for IBM Watson group. He also holds an M.S. in computer science (’06) from Stony Brook and a B.S. in computer science from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (’02). 

Mahmud is currently tech lead and data science thought leader of IBM’s Watson group. He’s excited to join the UC Santa Cruz NLP masters program.

“This fall I’m teaching a class on data collection, wrangling and crowdsourcing,” Mahmud said. “Which overlaps nicely with the work I do at IBM. Finding, processing and handling data is a crucial skill for our students to develop. Engineers spend enormous amounts of time processing data before they can start building the machine learning models that form the backbone of most NLP projects.” 

At IBM, Mahmud began his career as a research scientist, looking at web mining, intelligent user interfaces, human-computer interaction, and applied machine learning. In 2014, he moved to IBM’s Watson group (their question-answering artificial intelligence). There, Mahmud initially led Watson’s personality insight, tone analysis, and emotional analysis products. Later, he worked to develop sentiment analysis and NLP-focused products such as understanding entities and keywords, enabling products for different languages and looking for ways to accelerate the development of machine learning models.

He’s remained active in the scientific community throughout his career, publishing, patenting, reviewing papers and mentoring interns; including a pair of UC Santa Cruz Ph.D. students advised by NLP M.S. program director and computer science and engineering Professor Marilyn Walker. 

“When I heard about this new NLP master’s program [at UC Santa Cruz] I was really excited,” Mahmud said, “Aside from the good experiences I had working with UC Santa Cruz faculty and students, typically M.S. programs are pretty generic but this one was designed around NLP and is the kind of program that can really advance the discipline, and launch students’ careers.”

Beyond his work at IBM and UC Santa Cruz, Mahmud enjoys travel with his family (at least before COVID-19 related shelter-in-place ordinances went into effect). They especially cherish island destinations like Hawaii and the Maldives.  Closer to home, Mahmud enjoys taking photos with his phone and spending time with his daughter. 

Jalal Mahmud