Youyang Gu is a data scientist and practical machine learning expert. He is the creator of covid19-projections.com, a widely-used site dedicated to accurate modeling of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the site featured a prediction model which combined machine learning with a classic infectious disease model to make death forecasts for all 50 US states and more than 70 countries. This model was cited by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help inform public health decision making. Due to its reputation as the most accurate model during its time, covid19-projections.com has been widely featured by national and international media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Economist, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN, among others.
See a profile of Youyang on Bloomberg Businessweek.
From November 2020 and onwards, Youyang focused his efforts on estimating the number of true COVID-19 infections in all 50 states and 3,000+ counties in the US. Beginning in December 2020, covid19-projections.com also began tracking and modeling vaccine rollouts and the path to herd immunity. He is known for his unbiased, unpolitical, and data-driven analysis of COVID-19 on Twitter.
Prior to his COVID-19 modeling work, Youyang honed his cross-disciplinary research skills in a variety of fields: tech, trading/finance, and sports analytics. His expertise is in using machine learning to understand data, separate signal from the noise, and make accurate predictions. He is a strong believer in using simple machine learning models to create practical predictions and solutions. Many current applications of machine learning are heavily theoretical and complex in nature, giving them little to no practical use in a real, fast-paced environment. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these existing shortcomings.
Youyang completed his Bachelor’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), double majoring in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Mathematics. He also received his Master’s degree at MIT, completing his thesis as part of the Natural Language Processing group at the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
His story has been featured in the 2014 book Young Leaders 3.0: Stories, Insights, and Tips for Next-Generation Achievers. In his free time, Youyang enjoys skiing (or snowboarding if there’s fresh powder to soften the falls), looking for good trades in fantasy football, and driving during fall foliage.
Youyang is always interested in learning more about how data-oriented modeling can be used to tackle public health challenges. You can contact him by using the Contact page.