Oliver (Olly) Downs, PhD


Chief Scientist, Globys, Inc.       odowns@globys.com

Chief Scientist, Analytical Insights, Inc. odowns@analyticalinsights.com

(206) 686 3792

My Resume

Blogging @ Huffington Post

My Personal Blog


Description: Description: olly_mm2 




Olly Downs is a machine learning scientist and serial technology entrepreneur, credited with bringing advanced analytics and machine learning methods to bear as the creative spark behind numerous early-stage technology companies.

Olly is currently SVP, Data Sciences at Globys and also serves in advisory roles with a number of companies in online display advertising, context aware computing, semantic technologies, broadcast data services, and individualized medicine, through his company Analytical Insights, Inc.

Olly specializes in applying abstract analytical ideas from mathematical, physical and statistical science to problems in the real world and commercializing them into significant businesses; to date this has resulted in 19 US patents pending in the fields of Bayesian Prediction, Statistical Estimation, Outlier Detection, Real-Time GPS Data Processing and 18 granted patents in the fields of Quantum Optimization Algorithms, Dynamic Time Series Prediction, Location-based Data Probes, Anomaly Detection and Scalable Spatial Search.

Olly has served in Chief Scientist roles at AdReady, Atigeo and Mindset Media (sold to Meebo, February 2011) and as Director of Research at Pelago (sold to GroupOn, April 2011). As Principal Scientist at INRIX, the first technology spin-out from Microsoft Research, Olly delivered a world-first in the provision of real-time traffic information using a nationwide network of GPS-enabled probe vehicles (named 2007 Breakthrough Technology of the Year by the Washington Software Alliance).

Olly’s work has included pioneering web-facing applications of predictive analytics and probabilistic and location-based reasoning for AdReady, Farecast and MSN in addition to offline analytics; including financial mathematics, quantum computing and Bayesian prediction, for Nokia, SiriusXM, Globys, L1 Partners, D-Wave Systems, Apollo Data Technologies, Microsoft Research, Barnes & Noble, Knight Ridder, Ryder and IGT.

Olly has also spent time in research roles at Microsoft Research and Bell Labs.

Olly holds PhD and MA degrees in Applied & Computational Mathematics from Princeton University, and BA, MA and MSci degrees in Experimental & Theoretical Physics from the University of Cambridge, UK. He has an Erdös Number of 3.


In the news:

(Big Data Republic, October 2013) Meet the Data Scientist: Oliver Downs. Full Text

(Information Week, September 2013) Big Data Profile: Olly Downs, Globys. Full Text

(Fast Company, June 2013) How To Maximize Your Company’s Investment In Data. Full Text

(Wired, May 2013) The Path to Big Data Execution and Discovery. Full Text

(PSBJ, March 2013) Big bucks for ‘big data’ in hot new tech field. Full Text

(WSJ: AllThingsD, March 2013) How Data Science Is Advancing the “Nudge” to Influence Mobile Behaviors. Full Text

(GeekWire, July 2012) Geek of the Week: Olly Downs on stats, science and racecars. Full Text

(SemanticWeb.com, June 2010)  Atigeo: Interview with Chief Scientist Dr. Oliver “Olly” Downs.  Full Text

(Seattle Times, August 2007) Math whiz had I-5's number. Full Text

(King5 News, August 2007) I-5 closure will impact Southcenter, Eastside, Everett. Video (WMV)

(Technology Review, January 2006) A new service from Kirkland, WA-based Inrix predicts traffic slowdowns by crunching road sensor data, weather, history, and local events. Full Text

(Technology Review, July 2005) D-Wave Systems is building a 'quantum' computer to solve intractable real-world problems. The secret: cooling the chip to -269 C with liquid helium. Full Text


  • The Nonnegative Boltzmann Machine.
    Oliver B. Downs, David J.C. MacKay & Daniel D. Lee.
    Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 12, pp 428-434,
    S. A. Solla, T. K. Leen, K.-R. Müller, eds., MIT Press, 2000.
    Full Text: PDF

  • High-temperature expansions for learning models of nonnegative data.
    Oliver B. Downs.
    Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 13, pp 465-471,
    T. K. Leen, T. G. Dietterich, V. Tresp, eds., MIT Press, 2001.
    Full Text: PDF

  • Analytical Reflective Slice Sampling: The Nonnegative Boltzmann Machine.
    Oliver B. Downs.
    Invited illustration of Neal's Slice Sampling, Annals of Statistics 31:3, June 2003.
    Full Text: PDF

  • The Tunneling Salesman: Truncated Variational Approximations for Quantum Mechanical Global Optimization.
    Oliver B. Downs, Hagai Attias, Chris J.C. Burges & Robert Rounthwaite
    Microsoft Research Technical Report, MSR-TR-2002-100, October 2002.
    Full Text: PDF

Recent Presentations

·         Moneyball:  How buying by “On Base Percentage” rather than “RBIs” drives results in Display Advertising. (Presented at Seattle Interactive Conference, Nov 2011): Presentation Slides


·         The Science of Prediction – How Next Generation Traffic Services Will Impact Location-Based Applications (presented at Where 2.0, June 2006): Online Slideshow

  • What does a PhD Mathematician do in the Commercial World? (Puget Sound Council of Teachers of Mathematics, February 2005): Online Slideshow
  • Using Data Mining to Empower Business Strategy and The Nonnegative Boltzmann Machine (Microsoft Research, October 2004): Online Slideshow
  • "The Tunnelling Salesman" (as presented at CalTech IQI, Overture & Fair Isaac, March 2003): Online Slideshow
  • Slides from my Princeton General Exam Presentation - "Learning Models for Continuous Nonnegative Data" (April 2000): PDF
    (The Learning Workshop, Snowbird, Utah - April 2000)
  • Slides from a talk on formative ideas for feature extraction from DNA Microarray data (March 2000) PDF


© 2013 Olly Downs.