March 30, 2012
NSF Promotes Big Data
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced awards in order expand efforts to address the big data revolution. The NSF is also seeking proposals for big data solicitation as part of a collaboration with the National Institutes for Health (NIH). This news comes from a press release today as science agency leaders met in Washington, DC to discuss plans for big data, infrastructure, and funding opportunities.
The NSF hopes these new incentives will drive innovation and new methods to draw knowledge from data as well as create a new infrastructure to manage, curate and serve data communities.
According to a press release yesterday, NSF director Subra Suresh said, “Data are motivating a profound transformation in the culture and conduct
of scientific research in every field of science and engineering.”
“American scientists must rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities afforded by this new, data-driven revolution. The work we do today will lay the groundwork for new enterprises and fortify the foundations for US competitiveness for decades to come.”
The NSF also released a joint solicitation with the NIH called “Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering.” This program will aim to extract and use information from big data in order to benefit the progress of science and engineering research. More specifically, the program aims to research and develop algorithms, statistical methods and tools for improved data management and collection.
These moves and progressions are evidence NSF is taking their approach to big data seriously as they want to be at the forefront of any infrastructure, research, or implementation.
“The Big Data solicitation creates enormous opportunities for extracting knowledge from large-scale data across all disciplines,” said Farnam Jahanian, assistant director for NSF´s directorate for computer and information science and engineering.
“Foundational research advances in data management, analysis and collaboration will change paradigms of research and education, and promise new approaches to addressing national priorities.”
But what is Big Data?
Big data is the vast amount of digital information collected in the history of Earth. Of course, this digital information is less than a hundred years old and yet, there is already so much of it. Big data is created by our social networks, our purchasing decisions, and Google searches. Big data contains information about anything ever digitized, sent, and received by another machine. This includes shipping logistics, buying habits, weather systems, traffic cameras, and everything in between.
In August of 2010, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google estimated the amount of information in the world, saying, “There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003.”
"But that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing..."
It is exactly this kind of statistic sending agencies clamoring to be at the ground floor of such data collection.
According to NSF´s Assistant Director for mathematical and physical sciences Ed Seidel, “NSF is developing a bold and comprehensive approach for this new data-centric world, from fundamental mathematical, statistical and computational approaches needed to understand the data, to infrastructure at a national and international level needed to support and serve our communities, to policy enabling rapid dissemination and sharing of knowledge.”
“Together, this will accelerate scientific progress, create new possibilities for education, enhance innovation in society and be a driver for job creation. Everyone will benefit from these activities.”
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