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Data Science: The Numbers of Our Lives

According to an article published on New York Times, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW calls data science “the sexiest job in the 21st century,” and by most accounts this hot new field promises to revolutionize industries from business to government, health care to academia.

The field has been spawned by the enormous amounts of data that modern technologies create — be it the online behavior of Facebook users, tissue samples of cancer patients, purchasing habits of grocery shoppers or crime statistics of cities. Data scientists are the magicians of the Big Data era. They crunch the data, use mathematical models to analyze it and create narratives or visualizations to explain it, then suggest how to use the information to make decisions.

In the last few years, dozens of programs under a variety of names have sprung up in response to the excitement about Big Data, not to mention the six-figure salaries for some recent graduates.

In the fall, Columbia will offer new master’s and certificate programs heavy on data. The University of San Francisco will soon graduate its charter class of students with a master’s in analytics. Other institutions teaching data science include New York University, Stanford, Northwestern, George Mason, Syracuse, University of California at Irvine and Indiana University.

Rachel Schutt, a senior research scientist at Johnson Research Labs, taught “Introduction to Data Science” last semester at Columbia (its first course with “data science” in the title). She described the data scientist this way: “a hybrid computer scientist software engineer statistician.” And added: “The best tend to be really curious people, thinkers who ask good questions and are O.K. dealing with unstructured situations and trying to find structure in them.”

Read more on New York Times

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