Tableau Acquires AI Startup Empirical Systems

AI Startup, Empirical Systems, Originated at MIT; Will Bring Sophisticated Statistical Analysis and Automatic Data Insights to Tableau Platform

Tableau Software announced that it has acquired Empirical Systems, a pioneering artificial intelligence startup that originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Probabilistic Computing Project. With Empirical Systems’ automated statistical analysis technology integrated into the Tableau platform, Tableau customers will more easily gain insight into their data, without needing to manually build the complex underlying data models that would otherwise be necessary.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Empirical team to Tableau to help us bring AI-powered analysis to the masses and enhance the way people interact with their data,” said Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau. “Automatic insight generation will enable people without specialized data science skills to easily spot trends in their data, identify areas for further exploration, test different assumptions, and simulate hypothetical situations. Empirical shares our vision of delivering deeper insights to more people through smart analytics, and we’re eager to bring their tremendously talented team to Tableau.”

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Empirical Systems’ Analytics Engine automates robust data modeling that would typically require a trained statistician and allows people to explore, explain, predict and simulate that data in real-time. Rather than having to test all variables manually or limit analysis to predetermined hypotheses, advanced statistical algorithms will enhance the user experience and guide people to relevant insights and trends that could have easily gone unnoticed. This makes it possible for people to solve common data problems – like detecting relationships between variables, uncovering previously unknown factors driving patterns or spikes in the data, and inferring missing values – without requiring them to have data science expertise or do custom statistical modeling.

“We developed Empirical to make complex data modeling and sophisticated statistical analysis more accessible, so anyone trying to understand their data can make thoughtful, data-driven decisions based on sound analysis, regardless of their technical expertise,” said Richard Tibbetts, CEO of Empirical Systems. “Our vision for Empirical is strongly aligned with Tableau’s mission and approach to research and innovation, and we see endless opportunities to bring deeper insights to the expansive community of passionate, engaged Tableau customers.”

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Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Empirical Systems is a team of engineers and data science professionals who created an analysis platform that helps customers in a variety of industries to automatically analyze and understand their structured data. Empirical was co-founded by CEO Richard Tibbetts, who previously co-founded StreamBase (acquired by TIBCO), engineering lead Madeleine Thompson formerly of Google, and scientific advisor Vikash Mansinghka, who leads the MIT Probabilistic Computing Project.

Empirical employees will join Tableau and, as part of the acquisition, Tableau plans to establish a research and development center in the vibrant and talent-rich city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The team will focus on integrating the technology into the Tableau platform, with capabilities Empirical has built available in future releases of Tableau.

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