Welcome!

Ruby-On-Rails Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Hovhannes Avoyan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, @CloudExpo, @ThingsExpo

@BigDataExpo: Blog Feed Post

Is Data Science Really Science? | @BigDataExpo #BigData #Analytics #DataScience

Science works within systems of laws such as the laws of physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, electromagnetism

My son Max is home from college and that always leads to some interesting conversations.  Max is in graduate school at Iowa State University where he is studying kinesiology and strength training.  As part of his research project, he is applying physics to athletic training in order to understand how certain types of exercises can lead to improvements in athletic speed, strength, agility, and recovery.

Figure 1:  The Laws of Kinesiology

Max was showing me one drill designed to increase the speed and thrust associated with jumping (Max added 5 inches to his vertical leap over the past 6 weeks, and can now dunk over the old man).  When I was asking him about the science behind the drill, he went into great details about the interaction between the sciences of physics, biomechanics and human anatomy.

Max could explain to me how the laws of physics (the study of the properties of matter and energy.), kinesiology (the study of human motion that mainly focuses on muscles and their functions) and biomechanics (they study of movement involved in strength exercise or in the execution of a sport skill) interacted to produce the desired outcomes.  He could explain why it worked.

And that is the heart of my challenges with treating data science as a science.  As a data scientist, I can predict what is likely to happen, but I cannot explain why it is going to happen.  I can predict when someone is likely to attrite, or respond to a promotion, or commit fraud, or pick the pink button over the blue button, but I cannot tell you why that’s going to happen.  And I believe that the inability to explain why something is going to happen is why I struggle to call “data science” a science.

Okay, let the hate mail rain down on me, but let me explain why this is an important distinction!

What Is Science?
Science
is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Science works within systems of laws such as the laws of physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, electromagnetism, aerodynamics, electricity (like Ohm’s law), Newton’s law of motions, and chemistry.  Scientists can apply these laws to understand why certain actions lead to certain outcomes.  In many disciplines, it is critical (life and death critical in some cases) that the scientists (or engineers) know why something is going to occur:

  • In pharmaceuticals, chemists need to understand how certain chemicals can be combined in certain combinations (recipes) to drive human outcomes or results.
  • In mechanical engineering, building engineers need to know how certain materials and designs can be combined to support the weight of a 40 story building (that looks like it was made out of Lego blocks).
  • In electrical engineering, electrical engineers need to understand how much wiring, what type of wiring and the optimal designs are required to support the electrical needs of buildings or vehicles.

Again, the laws that underpin these disciplines can be used to understand why certain actions or combinations lead to predictable outcomes.

Big Data and the “Death” of Why
An article by Chris Anderson in 2006 titled “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete” really called into question the “science” nature of the data science role.  The premise of the article was that the massive amounts of data were yielding insights about the human behaviors without requiring the heavy statistical modeling typically needed when using sampled data sets.  This is the quote that most intrigued me:

“Google conquered the advertising world with nothing more than applied mathematics. It didn’t pretend to know anything about the culture and conventions of advertising — it just assumed that better data, with better analytical tools, would win the day. And Google was right.”

With the vast amounts of detailed data available and high-powered analytic tools, it is possible to identify what works without having to worry about why it worked.  Maybe when it comes to human behaviors, there are no laws that can be used to understand (or codify) why humans take certain actions under certain conditions.  In fact, we already know that humans are illogical decision-making machines (see “Human Decision-Making in a Big Data World”).

However, there are some new developments that I think will require “data science” to become more like other “sciences.”

Internet of Things and the “Birth” of Why
The Internet of Things (IOT) will require organizations to understand and codify why certain inputs lead to predictable outcomes.  For example, it will be critical for manufacturers to understand and codify why certain components in a product break down most often, by trying to address questions such as:

  • Was the failure caused by the materials used to build the component?
  • Was the failure caused by the design of the component?
  • Was the failure caused by the use of the component?
  • Was the failure caused by the installation of the component?
  • Was the failure caused by the maintenance of the component?

As we move into the world of IoT, we will start to see increased collaboration between analytics and physics.  See what organizations like GE are doing with the concept of “Digital Twins”.

The Digital Twin involves building a digital model, or twin, of every machine – from a jet engine to a locomotive – to grow and create new business and service models through the Industrial Internet.[1]

Digital twins are computerized companions of physical assets that can be used for various purposes. Digital twins use data from sensors installed on physical objects to represent their real-time status, working condition or position.[2]

GE is building digital models that mirror the physical structures of their products and components.  This allows them to not only accelerate the development of new products, but allows them to test the products in a greater number of situations to determine metrics such as mean-time-to-failure, stress capability and structural loads.

As the worlds of physics and IoT collide, data scientist will become more like other “scientists” as their digital world will begin to be governed by the laws that govern disciplines such as physics, aerodynamics, chemistry and electricity.

Data Science and the Cost of Wrong
Another potential driver in the IoT world is the substantial cost of being wrong.  As discussed in my blog “Understanding Type I and Type II Errors”, the cost of being wrong (false positives and false negatives) has minimal impact when trying to predict human behaviors such as which customers might respond to which ads, or which customers are likely to recommend you to their friends.

However in the world of IOT, the costs of being wrong (false positives and false negatives) can have severe or even catastrophic financial, legal and liability costs.  Organizations cannot afford to have planes falling out of the skies or autonomous cars driving into crowds or pharmaceuticals accidently killing patients.

Summary
Traditionally, big data historically was not concerned with understanding or quantifying “why” certain actions occurred because for the most part, organizations were using big data to understand and predict customer behaviors (e.g., acquisition, up-sell, fraud, theft, attrition, advocacy).  The costs associated with false positives and false negatives were relatively small compared to the financial benefit or return.

And while there may never be “laws” that dictate human behaviors, in the world of IOT where organizations are melding analytics (machine learning and artificial intelligence) with physical products, we will see “data science” advancing beyond just “data” science.  In IOT, the data science team must expand to include scientists and engineers from the physical sciences so that the team can understand and quantify the “why things happen” aspect of the analytic models.  If not, the costs could be catastrophic.

[1] https://www.ge.com/digital/blog/dawn-digital-industrial-era

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Twins

The post Is Data Science Really Science? appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By William Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo, author of “Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business”, is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service line offerings and capabilities for the EMC Global Services organization. As part of Bill’s CTO charter, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He’s written several white papers, avid blogger and is a frequent speaker on the use of Big Data and advanced analytics to power organization’s key business initiatives. He also teaches the “Big Data MBA” at the University of San Francisco School of Management.

Bill has nearly three decades of experience in data warehousing, BI and analytics. Bill authored EMC’s Vision Workshop methodology that links an organization’s strategic business initiatives with their supporting data and analytic requirements, and co-authored with Ralph Kimball a series of articles on analytic applications. Bill has served on The Data Warehouse Institute’s faculty as the head of the analytic applications curriculum.

Previously, Bill was the Vice President of Advertiser Analytics at Yahoo and the Vice President of Analytic Applications at Business Objects.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.