Cake mix, frosting and artificial intelligence (AI).
These ingredients go together smoothly for Dr. Lawrence Yang, Missouri State University associate professor of information technology and cybersecurity (ITC).
He explains that artificial intelligence and machine learning can predict human purchasing behavior. One example he uses is how the amount of frosting purchased will drop in conjunction with the spike in cake prices.
“I am interested in applying artificial intelligence to help solve business problems and better predict possible outcomes,” Yang said. “I believe AI has the ability to affect organizations’ decision-making skills in a positive and efficient way.”
Yang’s research was recently featured in the 2022 issue of Mind’s Eye magazine, a Missouri State publication.
Pricing and purchasing
For his most recent project, Yang focused on a typical business problem called cross purchases. These are products used together – like cake mix and frosting.
“First of all, we already know if you drop the price of anything, consumers are going to buy more of it. That’s a typical economic problem,” Yang said.
When the cake mix price dropped, Yang wondered if consumers would also buy more frosting when they filled their baskets.
But he’s not actually talking about people in a grocery store or sweet confections. Yang uses AI to learn how consumers make these cross purchases when one product’s price decreases.
AI may solve a human dilemma
Artificial intelligence develops systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, like decision making.
“Human beings are intelligent and can learn lots of information, but humans only have a certain number of years to learn that information. That’s our limitation,” Yang said.
“Artificial intelligence has no limitations. We can insert millions of good and bad examples in these software programs in the matter of a couple of minutes.”
After that, the machine can predict the best course of action, Yang added.