Cathy O'Neil

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Cathy O'Neil
Cathy O'Neil at Google Cambridge.jpg
Cathy O'Neil at Google Cambridge in 2016
Alma materUC Berkeley
Harvard University
AwardsAlice T. Schafer Prize in 1993,
MAA's Euler Book Prize
Scientific career
Barnard College
D.E. Shaw
Columbia University
ThesisJacobians of Curves of Genus One
Doctoral advisorBarry Mazur

Catherine ("Cathy") Helen O'Neil is an American mathematician, data scientist, and author. She is the founder of the blog and has written books on data science, including the New York Times best-seller Weapons of Math Destruction, which is an influential source for the Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence community. Her opinion columns are published in Bloomberg View. She is a former Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's Tow Center.

She lives in New York City and was active in the Occupy movement.[1]

Education and career[edit]

O'Neil attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate,[1] received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1999,[2][3] and afterward held positions in the mathematics departments of MIT and Barnard College,[4] doing research in arithmetic algebraic geometry.[5] She left academia in 2007, and worked for four years in the finance industry, including two years at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw.[6] After becoming disenchanted with the world of finance, O'Neil became involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement,[7][1] participating in its Alternative Banking Group.[8]

She is the founder of the blog[9][10]

Her first book, Doing Data Science, was written with Rachel Schutt and published in 2013.[9] In 2014 she launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia.[11]

In 2016, her book Weapons of Math Destruction was published, long-listed for the National Book Award for Nonfiction[12][13] and became a New York Times best-seller.[4] Her new book The Shame Machine: Who Profits in the New Age of Humiliation was published March 2022.

When the US Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a revision to the "disparate impact" rule regarding housing discrimination claims in 2019, she collaborated with Harvard Law School's CyberLaw Clinic comment in their response to the proposal, which used her work to show "how the rule would cause and reinforce harm."[14]

She is the founder of O'Neil Risk Consulting & Algorithmic Auditing (ORCAA), an algorithmic auditing company.[3][15]

She is currently on the advisory board of the Harvard Data Science Review.[16]

She is a contributor to Bloomberg View.[11]


In 1993 O'Neil was awarded the Alice T. Schafer Prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics and in 2019 she won the MAA's Euler Book Prize for her book Weapons of Math Destruction.[17]

Personal life[edit]

O'Neil lives in New York City and has three sons.[18]


  • With Rachel Schutt, Doing Data Science: Straight Talk from the Frontline (O'Reilly 2013, ISBN 1449358659).
  • On Being a Data Skeptic (O'Reilly Media 2013, ISBN 1491947233).
  • Weapons of Math Destruction (Crown 2016, ISBN 0553418815).
  • The Shame Machine: Who Profits in the New Age of Humiliation (Crown 2022, ISBN 1984825453).


  1. ^ a b c "PBS Interview". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  2. ^ Catherine Helen O'Neil, Mathematics Genealogy.
  3. ^ a b Zhang, Christine (30 December 2016). "Q&A: Cathy O'Neil, author of 'Weapons of Math Destruction,' on the dark side of big data". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b "#49 Cathy O'Neil - POLITICO 50 2017". POLITICO.
  5. ^ "Strata conference speakers bios". Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Library of Economics and Liberty interview". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  7. ^ Rawlins, Aimee (6 September 2016). "Math is racist: How data is driving inequality". CNNMoney. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  8. ^ Josh Harkinson (Dec 13, 2011), Meet the Financial Wizards Working With Occupy Wall Street, Mother Jones magazine
  9. ^ a b Chalabi, Mona (27 October 2016). "Weapons of Math Destruction: Cathy O'Neil adds up the damage of algorithms". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  10. ^ Pazzanese, Christina (13 October 2016). "Don't trust that algorithm". Harvard Gazette.
  11. ^ a b Washington Post Live. "The Future of Work with Humu CEO Laszlo Bock & ORCAA Founder Cathy O'Neil". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  12. ^ 2016 National Book Award Longlist, Nonfiction, National Book Foundation
  13. ^ "The National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction", The New Yorker, September 14, 2016
  14. ^ "Clinic Teams w/Cathy O'Neil for HUD Comment re: Algorithmic Discrimination". Cyberlaw Clinic. 21 October 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  15. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "Want to Prove Your Business Is Fair? Audit Your Algorithm". Wired. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Advisory Board · Harvard Data Science Review". Harvard Data Science Review. MIT Press.
  17. ^ Gallian, Joseph A. (2019-06-01). "The First Twenty-Five Winners of the AWM Alice T. Schafer Prize". Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 66 (6): 1. doi:10.1090/noti1892. ISSN 0002-9920.
  18. ^ " about page". Retrieved 30 September 2021.

External links[edit]