Statistics course for Fall 2012
Subjects: MBA

In the News

Topic 1: Big Data - the how, what and why

  • The Age of Big Data - New York Times, Feb 11, 2012.
    What is Big Data? A meme and a marketing term, for sure, but also shorthand for advancing trends in technology that open the door to a new approach to understanding the world and making decisions. There is a lot more data, all the time, growing at 50 percent a year, or more than doubling every two years, estimates IDC, a technology research firm. It’s not just more streams of data, but entirely new ones. For example, there are now countless digital sensors worldwide in industrial equipment, automobiles, electrical meters and shipping crates. They can measure and communicate location, movement, vibration, temperature, humidity, even chemical changes in the air.

    Link these communicating sensors to computing intelligence and you see the rise of what is called the Internet of Things or the Industrial Internet. Improved access to information is also fueling the Big Data trend. For example, government data — employment figures and other information — has been steadily migrating onto the Web. In 2009, Washington opened the data doors further by starting, a Web site that makes all kinds of government data accessible to the public.

    Data is not only becoming more available but also more understandable to computers. Most of the Big Data surge is data in the wild — unruly stuff like words, images and video on the Web and those streams of sensor data. It is called unstructured data and is not typically grist for traditional databases.

    But the computer tools for gleaning knowledge and insights from the Internet era’s vast trove of unstructured data are fast gaining ground. At the forefront are the rapidly advancing techniques of artificial intelligence like natural-language processing, pattern recognition and machine learning.

    Those artificial-intelligence technologies can be applied in many fields. For example, Google’s search and ad business and its experimental robot cars, which have navigated thousands of miles of California roads, both use a bundle of artificial-intelligence tricks. Both are daunting Big Data challenges, parsing vast quantities of data and making decisions instantaneously....

  • New U.S. Research Will Aim at Flood of Data- New York Times, March 29, 2012.
    The federal government is beginning a major research initiative in big data computing. The effort, which will be announced on Thursday, involves several government agencies and departments, and commitments for the programs total $200 million.

    Administration officials compare the initiative to past government research support for high-speed networking and supercomputing centers, which have had an impact in areas like climate science and Web browsing software.

    “This is that level of importance,” said Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The future of computing is not just big iron. It’s big data.”

    Big data refers to the rising flood of digital data from many sources, including the Web, biological and industrial sensors, video, e-mail and social network communications. The emerging opportunity arises from combining these diverse data sources with improving computing tools to pinpoint profit-making opportunities, make scientific discoveries and predict crime waves, for example.

    “Data, in my view, is a transformative new currency for science, engineering, education, commerce and government,” said Farnam Jahanian, head of the National Science Foundation’s computer and information science and engineering directorate. “Foundational research in data management and data analytics promise breakthrough discoveries and innovations across all disciplines.”

Topic 2: Political Fact-Checking or "Who's Telling the Truth?"