Our September issue of The Institute highlights important uses of big data. Health care agencies can improve treatments based on data from medical reports, and law enforcement can now predict and prevent crimes using the latest software programs. All of the facts, figures, files, and records making up this data will be up for analysis, with the hope that the results will provide insight into the world we live in and, hopefully, help to improve it.
This vastly expanding field brings with it many opportunities, but also challenges and potential consequences. To help kick off a conversation about big data, we invited three experts to respond to your questions and concerns. To participate, tell us what you would like to know in the comments section below or tweet it to us @IEEEInstitute. The answers will be posted on our website on 30 September. Also be sure to check the mail for your September copy of The Institute and sign up for our Alert e-newsletter to get notified of our latest articles.
Grady Booch: Computing the Human Experience
IEEE Fellow Grady Booch is the chief scientist for software engineering at the IBM Almaden Research Laboratory, in San Jose, Calif., which is home of the first data-mining algorithm as well as a multitude of innovations for data storage. He is currently developing a transmedia project, Computing: The Human Experience, in which he and his team use data-mining tools to organize and analyze thousands of books, documentaries, and other resources to help tell a detailed story about the history of computing. He writes a regular column on architecture for IEEE Software and is a member of its editorial board. In a podcast hosted by IEEE Computer Society’s Computing Now, Booch spoke about the human and ethical aspects of big data: “Every line of code represents a moral decision,” he said. “Every bit of data collected, analyzed, and visualized has implications.”
Manish Parashar: Discovering Information
IEEE Fellow Manish Parashar is the founding director of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2), in Piscataway, N.J. There, researchers use state-of-the-art computing technologies to address data-intensive challenges in science, engineering, medicine, and other areas. He is also a professor of computer science at Rutgers University, also in Piscataway, and the director of the school’s Applied Software Systems Laboratory. Parashar recently served as program director at the National Science Foundation, where he managed a US $150 million research portfolio in the areas of software sustainability, computation and data-enabled science engineering, and cloud computing.
Dennis Shasha: Broadening the Scope
Dennis Shasha is a professor of computer science at New York University, in New York City, and a researcher in pattern recognition and database tuning. His work as the associate director of NYU Wireless involves analyzing data in a variety of fields, including biology and economics. In an interview in The Institute’s upcoming article, “Landing a Job in Big Data,” he says: “The skill set for big data is generic…It helps to have an inquisitive personality—a cross between that of a detective and a journalist. The more questions you ask, the more you’ll learn from the data.” He has also written several books that cover database tuning and data mining.