Bin Yu, UC Berkeley

Curating a COVID-19 data repository and forecasting county-level death counts in the United States​




As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, accurate forecasting continues to play an extremely important role in informing policy decisions. In this paper, we present our continuous curation of a large data repository containing COVID-19 information from a range of sources. We use this data to develop predictions and corresponding prediction intervals for the short-term trajectory of COVID-19 cumulative death counts at the county-level in the United States up to two weeks ahead. Using data from January 22 to June 20, 2020, we develop and combine multiple forecasts using ensembling techniques, resulting in an ensemble we refer to as Combined Linear and Exponential Predictors (CLEP). Our individual predictors include county-specific exponential and linear predictors, a shared exponential predictor that pools data together across counties, an expanded shared exponential predictor that uses data from neighboring counties, and a demographics-based shared exponential predictor. We use prediction errors from the past five days to assess the uncertainty of our death predictions, resulting in generally-applicable prediction intervals, Maximum (absolute) Error Prediction Intervals (MEPI). MEPI achieves a coverage rate of more than 94% when averaged across counties for predicting cumulative recorded death counts two weeks in the future. Our forecasts are currently being used by the non-profit organization, Response4Life, to determine the medical supply need for individual hospitals and have directly contributed to the distribution of medical supplies across the country. We hope that our forecasts and data repository at this https URL can help guide necessary county-specific decision-making and help counties prepare for their continued fight against COVID-19.



Bin Yu is Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor and Class of 1936 Second Chair in the Departments of Statistics and of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley and a former chair of Statistics at UC Berkeley. 

Yu's research focuses on practice, algorithm, and theory of statistical machine learning and causal inference. Her group is engaged in interdisciplinary research with scientists from genomics, neuroscience, and precision medicine. In order to augment empirical evidence for decision-making, they are investigating methods/algorithms (and associated statistical inference problems) such as dictionary learning, non-negative matrix factorization (NMF), EM and deep learning (CNNs and LSTMs), and heterogeneous effect estimation in randomized experiments (X-learner). Their recent algorithms include staNMF for unsupervised learning, iterative Random Forests (iRF) and signed iRF (s-iRF) for discovering predictive and stable high-order interactions in supervised learning, contextual decomposition (CD) and aggregated contextual decomposition (ACD) for interpretation of Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). 

Yu is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2006, and the Tukey Memorial Lecturer of the Bernoulli Society in 2012. She was President of IMS (Institute of Mathematical Statistics) in 2013-2014 and the Rietz Lecturer of IMS in 2016. She received the E. L. Scott Award from COPSS (Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies) in 2018. Moreover, Yu was a founding co-director of the Microsoft Research Asia (MSR) Lab at Peking University and is a member of the scientific advisory board at the UK Alan Turing Institute for data science and AI.