Finding a needle in the ocean

January 20, 2017

Big data is being used in a broad range of applications from targeting customers and improving sports performance to operating self-driving cars and decoding DNA.

But what exactly is big data?

"Although big data has become a hot topic during the past few years, its meaning is not really clear," says the University of Delaware's Xiang-Gen Xia.

Xia, the Charles Black Evans Professor in UD's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently shared his thoughts on the topic in a brief "Perspectives" paper published in the January 2017 issue of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine.

Xia's main goal in writing the piece, "Small Data, Mid Data, and Big Data Versus Algebra, Analysis, and Topology," was to draw attention to the need for new mathematical tools to deal with big data.

"Computers have enabled us to collect and process tremendous amounts of data, but there is still no systematic science to deal with it," Xia says. "People are using existing mathematical methods, but for big data problems, we need something different and what we need will vary with the application. Big data is about more than just numbers."

Xia hopes to spark conversation among the scientific communities that are working in this area, including mathematics, signal processing, and computer science.

In the paper, he points out that big data wasn't created when it was named.

"Big data has existed for a long time, as massive groups of fish move in the ocean, massive groups of birds fly in the sky, and/or a massive number of people on the ground travel around the world," he writes.

"Today, massive bits are transmitted through both wired and wireless channels called the internet. The key is how to get some indices, trends, or patterns from these massive data and/or how to find a needle in the ocean."
-end-


University of Delaware

Related Big Data Articles from Brightsurf:

Predicting sports performance with "big data"
Smartphones and wearable devices are not simple accessories for athletes.

Big data could yield big discoveries in archaeology, Brown scholar says
Parker VanValkenburgh, an assistant professor of anthropology, curated a journal issue that explores the opportunities and challenges big data could bring to the field of archaeology.

Army develops big data approach to neuroscience
A big data approach to neuroscience promises to significantly improve our understanding of the relationship between brain activity and performance.

'Big data' for life sciences
Scientists have produced a co-regulation map of the human proteome, which was able to capture relationships between proteins that do not physically interact or co-localize.

Molecular big data, a new weapon for medicine
Being able to visualize the transmission of a virus in real-time during an outbreak, or to better adapt cancer treatment on the basis of the mutations present in a tumor's individual cells are only two examples of what molecular Big Data can bring to medicine and health globally.

Big data says food is too sweet
New research from the Monell Center analyzed nearly 400,000 food reviews posted by Amazon customers to gain real-world insight into the food choices that people make.

Querying big data just got universal
A universal query engine for big data that works across computing platforms could accelerate analytics research.

What 'Big Data' reveals about the diversity of species
'Big data' and large-scale analyses are critical for biodiversity research to find out how animal and plant species are distributed worldwide and how ecosystems function.

Big data takes aim at a big human problem
A James Cook University scientist is part of an international team that's used new 'big data' analysis to achieve a major advance in understanding neurological disorders such as Epilepsy, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Small babies, big data
The first week of a newborn's life is a time of rapid biological change as the baby adapts to living outside the womb, suddenly exposed to new bacteria and viruses.

Read More: Big Data News and Big Data Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.