Professor Rick Wash
What is “Big Data”? For the purposes of this class, big data has two important properties. First, there is too much data to work with in simple ways without custom computation. When this happens, we need to start using more sophisticated techniques such as structured data storage and custom-written programs to process and work with the data. Second, big data is usually 3rd party data; rather than custom designing measures, you take what you can get. When that happens, it isn’t always clear what questions you can answer or what your variables actually measure. When working with big data, we frequently need to work hard to understand what the data really means and how to interpret it.
This class is a doctoral level class that focuses on doing research using big data. As a class, we will learn a number of technical skills needed to work with big data. We will also develop our research skills in finding and interpreting big data results. Together, we will develop the research skills needed to do big data research. This class will cover how to find and collect large samples of data, how to process, parse, munge, and store that data in a database. And then we will learn how to analyze this data and why the analysis is different than the analysis of more traditional data like that from experiments or surveys.