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‘Big Data’ Could Remake Science–and Government

NextGov.com (05/02/12) Joseph Marks

Big data is capable of transforming scientific research by switching it from a hypothesis-driven field into one that is data-driven, says Farnam Jahanian, head of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.  However, Jahanian notes that before this can be achieved, it will be necessary to secure upfront investment from the government and the private sector to build the infrastructure for data analysis and new collaboration tools.  The field of big data analysis seeks to sort through vast data stores to gather intelligence and identify new patterns.  Last year the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology found a gap in the private sector’s investment in basic big data research and development, and in March U.S. officials announced that the government will invest $200 million in research grants and infrastructure building for big data.  “The shift with data-driven science and big data is that first we collect the data and then we see what it tells us,” says Wyle chief technology officer Bill Perlowitz.  “We don’t have a pretense that we understand what those relationships are, or what information we may find.”

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