Big Data Certificate


Big Data is impacting many areas of science, engineering, and industry; from analyzing troves of weather data to modeling traffic patterns to processing millions of online customers, it is the enormous data which is creating new opportunities and challenges.

To tackle these challenges, one must have the training to store, manage, process and analyze data at these scales. But the challenges are beyond scale alone, the complexity of the data requires new powerful analytical techniques. Finally, it is crucial to have skills in communicating and interpreting the results of this analysis. A person trained in all of these skills is a big data scientist.

This emerging field – which addresses large sets of data too complex, diverse or rapidly changing for one computer to handle – affects everything from studying traffic patterns to managing sensitive information online. Big data is also big business – for example, using big data to improve efficiency and quality in the health care sector is estimated to be worth more than $300 billion each year.
 “We’re seeing a revolution in the availability of data. It’s easy to collect information, but processing and analyzing large stores of data is becoming increasingly difficult. We are at the point where the traditional analytical tools for attacking this problem are breaking down,” says Jeff Phillips, assistant professor of computer science and coordinator of the new program. “Our program capitalizes on University of Utah’s strengths in computer science and big-data processing, and will provide students with the technical training needed to succeed in high-tech jobs in data analysis and management.”
Drawing on existing courses in computer science, the university’s new certificate program will provide graduate students and professional computer scientists with the skills needed to process, analyze and manage sets of large, complex data. The certificate consists of five courses (15 credit hours) in data mining, machine learning, database systems, visualization and advanced algorithms. These courses already are taught at the U, and will include options for distance education such as online video, internet-video office hours and classes late in the day.
Although use of big data is a national trend, the skills needed to manage big data are especially critical in Utah, where companies such as Adobe and Goldman Sachs, as well as the National Security Agency, store vast reserves of data. The program also will include training on ethical issues associated with data management and analysis.
The certificate will be coordinated through the university’s School of Computing and will officially begin in fall semester 2014.
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