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Vasant Dhar

Vasant Dhar

Joined Stern 1983

Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Kaufman Management Center
44 West Fourth Street, 8-92
New York, NY 10012

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Vasant Dhar is an Artificial Intelligence researcher and data scientist whose research addresses the following question: when do we trust AI systems with decision making? The question is particularly relevant to autonomous machine-learning-based systems that learn and adapt with ongoing data.

Dhar’s research has been motivated by a building predictive models in a number of domains including finance where he founded one of the first automated machine learning based hedge funds in the 90s, as well as areas such as healthcare, sports, education, and business.

Dhar’s research breaks down trust along 2 risk-based dimensions: predictability, or how frequently a system makes mistakes (X-axis) and the associated costs of error (Y-axis) of such mistakes. The research demonstrates the existence of an “automation frontier” that expresses a tradeoff between how often a system will be wrong and its consequences. Trust, and hence our willingness to cede control of decision making to the machine, increases with increasing predictability and lower error costs. In other words, we are willing to trust machines if they don’t make too many mistakes and their costs are tolerable. As mistakes increase, we require that their consequences be less costly.

The automation frontier provides a natural way to think about the future of work. With more and better data and algorithms, parts of existing processes become automated due to increased predictability, and cross the automation frontier into the “trust the machine” zone, whereas the parts with high error costs remain under human control. The model provides a way to think about the changing responsibilities of humans and machines as more data and better algorithms become better than humans with decisions.

Dhar also uses the framework to frame policy issues around the risks of AI-based social media platforms and issues of privacy and ethical uses and governance of data. He writes regularly in the media on Artificial Intelligence, societal risks of AI platforms, data governance, privacy, ethics, and trust. He is a frequent speaker in academic as well as industrial forums.

Professor Dhar teaches courses on Systematic Investing, Prediction, Data Science, and Foundations of FinTech.

He has written over 100 research articles, funded by grants from industry and government agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

Professor Dhar received his Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, and his Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

Research Interests

  • Data Science
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Data Governance

Courses Taught

  • Foundations of FinTech
  • Introduction to Data Science
  • Robo Advisors and Systematic Investing

Academic Background

Ph.D., Artificial Intelligence, 1984
University of Pittsburgh

M.Phil., 1982
University of Pittsburgh

B.Tech., Chemical Engineering, 1978
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Awards & Appointments

Editor-in-Chief Big Data 2014
Principal Investigator Mining Online Delegate Data for 2012 US Presidential Elections, July 2011 2011
Co-Principal Investigator Interdisciplinary Studies in Security and Privacy, NYU Abu Dhabi 2011
Principal Investigator Risk-Driven Catastrophes in Global 1000 Companies, funded by Deloitte & Touche 2010
Principal Investigator News as a Risk Factor in Predictive Modeling, supported by Thomson Reuters ('10-present) 2010
Daniel P. Paduano Fellow ('09-'11) NYU Stern 2009
Co-Director Center for Business Analytics 2006

Related News & Research

In a live interview, Professor Vasant Dhar discusses how automation is impacting the workforce

Professor Vasant Dhar shares his views on the future of work at the CNBC@Work Summit

Machines Make Mistakes - How Can We Trust Artificial Intelligence to Fly and Drive?

In an interview, Professor Vasant Dhar discusses the challenges presented by integrating AI into transportation and finance

A Money Manager’s Past Performance Matters More Than Ever

Professor Vasant Dhar provides advice on how to choose a financial advisor

Professor Vasant Dhar discusses the impact of big data in 2018

In an interview, Professor Vasant Dhar discusses the EU's proposed regulation of online content providers, referencing his recent op-ed that advocates for a data-driven approach

What Lawmakers Need to Do to Police Online Content

Professor Vasant Dhar is quoted in a story on the complexities of using AI to analyze legal data

Stop Blaming Computer Programs for Steep Drops in the Stock Market

Professor Vasant Dhar emphasizes the need for AI initiatives to be incorporated into business strategy at the CxO level, beyond the CTO

Who Controls Your Data? India may Pass a Law Ensuring that You Do

Professor Vasant Dhar is quoted in a feature story on AI-powered hedge funds

Professor Vasant Dhar is quoted in a feature story explaining why banks tend not to be the innovators in financial technology

Professor Vasant Dhar weighs in on the Indian government's plan to monetize the Indian Railways' customer data

In an in-depth interview, Professor Vasant Dhar discusses how data policies will shape the future of nations

Professor Vasant Dhar discusses AI challenges in foreign-exchange markets

Professor Vasant Dhar is interviewed for a feature story on robo advisers

Professor Vasant Dhar comments on Facebook's regulations around political advertising

Areas of Expertise


  • High Frequency Trading


  • Publishing

Information, Operations & Management Sciences

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Database Management
  • ITSolutions
  • Information Systems Development


  • Digital Marketing/Advertising