2 September 2013


When the Harvard Business Review takes on the topic of data science and announces that data scientist is  "The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century," one knows that "big data" has become the latest big news. However, data science has been at the core of the Laboratory's mission from the very beginning, when  data was  measured  in kilobytes,  as compared to the petabytes that are processed and analyzed today. 

We live in a world awash in data, a world of complex, interconnected systems and networks, from the vast systems that control and run various aspects of the country's infrastructure, to systems embedded in manufacturing processes, to the smartphones and tablets on which we depend in our personal lives. Here at Lawrence Liver more, data science involves taking massive amounts of raw data in a variety of forms—for example, ocean-surface temperatures, spectra gathered from telescopes scanning the night sky, and DNA sequences—and analyzing it to extract information about relationships, patterns, and connections, and then presenting that information in forms that can be used to make decisions.

Today, the challenges of big data sweep across all our mission areas—from bio security and counter terrorism to nonproliferation and weapons systems. Data science also plays a major role in science-focused areas such as climate, energy, astrophysics, and high-energy physics. Any mission that is involved with collecting and analyzing enormous quantities of data will turn to data science as part of the analysis process. The difference between the Laboratory and a commercial entity is that our focus is on ensuring national security—the driver behind our efforts.

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