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Esteban Arcaute, MS ’07, PhD ’10

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Esteban Arcaute, PhD '10

Esteban Arcaute, MS '07, PhD '10

What are you working on now?

I am currently the head of Data Science for Category Development @WalmartLabs. Category Development @WalmartLabs encompasses all technology used for deciding which products to carry on our e-commerce properties, how to present them to users, and how to price them. 

From a more technical point of view, we work on a wide array of data science problems, from entity extraction and categorization, demand estimation and portfolio management, to search and recommendations. 

As the head of Data Science, my role is to ensure the investment made in data science methods is consistent with the current and projected state of our business. For instance, as our assortment scales, the number of products with sporadic demand (long-tail products) increases as well. From the demand estimation point of view, it requires a transition from time-series models (nicely suited for high-volume products), to clustering followed by times series models (suited for products with similar demand characteristics), to modern parametric methods that directly learn global demand functions by embedding products in high-dimensional spaces. 

My four and a half years experience at a startup (Adchemy, acquired by @WalmartLabs in May 2014) equipped me with a no-nonsense approach to data science -– namely that its role is, first and foremost, to solve business and technical problems. 

My experience at ICME allows me to fulfill the second goal of data science in industry, namely that of systematizing the improvement of data products. From the rigorous modeling knowledge embedded in CME 305 and 308, to the frameworks and techniques needed to deal with large scale data taught in CME 302 and 304, the ICME curriculum prepared me to see the commonalities of data science techniques across functional areas, and across scales.

Esteban D. Arcaute was born in Mexico City, and earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. from Stanford University in Computational and Mathematical Engineering. He also holds two other masters, one in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Supeléc (France) and one in Applied Mathematics from the Université de Metz (France). 

He is currently the Sr. Director and Head of Data Science, Category Development, at @WalmartLabs. Prior to that, he was at Adchemy Inc. (acquired by @WalmartLabs) where he held several positions, from Research Scientist, to Sr. Director and Head of Research. 

Esteban has been actively working on the foundations of electronic commerce since 2005, first as an academic researcher, publishing over 10 peer reviewed publications with over 15 researchers; then as an industrial researcher and thought leader. His current interests span from learning and control systems with a human in the loop, to advanced analytics and experimentation.