Indiana, Tsinghua students do data mining on food

Mar 122012

Lars Willnat, professor of journalism at Indiana University, brought 17 students to visit the campus and Professor Lee Miller's data mining class on March 12.

Miller started the session started with a presentation on some of the top restaurant chains operating in China. Students then did a a data-mining exercise in the form of speed dating, in which they each interviewed 10 of their peers from the other country about their food preferences and eating habits.

After two minutes, they moved to interview the next person. They then wrote up their results after class as an assignment.

Wang Dan wrote in her blog that the long Chinese tradition of using food as a form of medicine or therapy was a new concept for the Indiana students. She quotes Indiana student Amelia Cheng: “I am quite curious about food therapy. How can they cure disease? If they are true as it was said, why they haven’t become popularized around the world as medicine?” Amelia said it makes her happy to eat snacks when she is sad.

Zhang Ying, a GBJ student from Thailand, was surprised that when American students order food sent to their dormitories, they are expected to pay a delivery fee plus a tip for the delivery person. Tsinghua students don't have to pay either fee, but sometimes they need to place a minimum order.

"I want my students to see and learn China themselves”, said Professor Willnat. He hopes to set up an exchange program between the two universities.