Robert J Brunner

Professor, Illinois Informatics Institute

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Personal profile

Personal profile

Robert J. Brunner is a professor in the School of Information Sciences and in the Department of Accountancy in the College of Business. He has affiliate appointments in the Astronomy, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Informatics, Physics, and Statistics Departments; at the Beckman Institute, in the Computational Science and Engineering program; and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He is also the Data Science Expert in Residence at the Research Park at the University of Illinois.

His primary research goal focuses on the application of statistical and machine learning to a variety of real-world problems, and in making these efforts easier, faster, and more precise. This work spans fundamental algorithm design to more effectively incorporate uncertainty to optimization using novel computational technologies. More generally, Brunner helps lead efforts to promote data science across campus and to encourage effective data management, analysis, and visualization techniques.

Brunner earned his PhD in astrophysics at the Johns Hopkins University working under Alex Szalay on the development of the science archive for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. His PhD thesis helped develop the statistical approach to quantifying galaxy evolution, where large data are used to place constraints on the original and evolution of the Universe. He subsequently spent five years as a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology working under S. George Djorgovsi and Tom Prince as the project scientist for the Digital Sky project. 

Research Interests

Observational Cosmology
Information Science
Statistical and Machine Learning
Advanced Computational Techniques
Transient and Variable Phenomena

Professional Information

The development of data science, the application of machine learning, algorithmic optimization, statistical uncertainty and its incorporation in machine learning, data management, effective visualization, and data storytelling.


Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University


Office Address

Dept. of Astronomy
226 Astronomy
1002 West Green Street
M/C 221
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone

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Research Output

A simple and fast method for computing the Poisson binomial distribution function

Biscarri, W., Zhao, S. D. & Brunner, R. J., Jun 2018, In : Computational Statistics and Data Analysis. 122, p. 92-100 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Challenges of workload analysis on large HPC systems; A case study on NCSA Bluewaters

    White, J. P., Innus, M., Jones, M. D., DeLeon, R. L., Simakov, N., Palmer, J. T., Gallo, S. M., Furlani, T. R., Showerman, M., Brunner, R. J., Kot, A., Bauer, G. H., Bode, B., Enos, J. J. & Kramer, W. T., Jul 9 2017, PEARC 2017 - Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing 2017: Sustainability, Success and Impact. Association for Computing Machinery, a6. (ACM International Conference Proceeding Series; vol. Part F128771).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Star-galaxy classification using deep convolutional neural networks

    Kim, E. J. & Brunner, R. J., Jan 1 2017, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 464, 4, p. 4463-4475 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Vizic: A Jupyter-based interactive visualization tool for astronomical catalogs

    Yu, W., Carrasco Kind, M. & Brunner, R. J., Jul 2017, In : Astronomy and Computing. 20, p. 128-139 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Galaxy clustering, photometric redshifts and diagnosis of systematics in the DES science verification data

    The DES Collaboration, Jan 1 2016, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 455, 4, p. 4301-4324 24 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Activities

    • 1 Oral presentation

    Cyber Threats in the Age of COVID-19

    Robert J Brunner (Speaker), & David Malcolm Nicol (Speaker)

    Jun 9 2020

    Activity: Talk typesOral presentation