Big Data

We live in an age of ubiquitous data.  Vast amounts of new data are produced each day, from sources as diverse as the online interactions among people, wearable health monitors, and sensor networks measuring weather and traffic. The dramatic rise in our ability to gather, store, and analyze “Big Data” is revolutionizing business, government, science, medicine, and education.

The University of Massachusetts is a leader in managing Big Data—massive amounts of information that is collected, analyzed and harnessed for new discovery and smart decision-making—and data science—the interdisciplinary and complex mining of knowledge from Big Data. Our five campuses, the flagship in Amherst, the medical school in Worcester, and the Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses have world-leading strengths in three key complementary areas: (1) building infrastructure to access and process Big Data efficiently and effectively; (2) developing machine learning analytics that construct statistical models and make accurate, meaningful predictions; and (3) creating applications in a wide range of fields, from fighting terrorism to finding cures for diseases.

> Nearly 200 UMass faculty members working in areas directly related to data science have collectively generated nearly $180 million in research funding since 2010 and are recognized internationally for their research.

These researchers have established partnerships with many Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Oracle, Raytheon, BAE and MassMutual.

> The pioneering UMass research in data science dovetails with the needs of the nearly 500 Massachusetts companies tapping into Big Data to improve our world and their bottom lines.

These firms have already attracted the interest of many investors. Private investment in Big Data in Massachusetts since 2000 has totaled $2.5 billion.

Tools for data science, and students trained to wield and extend those tools, are in high demand because these techniques have the power to increase productivity, develop insights into patterns of human behavior, transform existing business practices, and spawn entirely new industries.

In addition to driving data science innovation and discovery, the UMass system is the pipeline for Massachusetts’s data science workforce. UMass awarded 17 percent of the 1,000 data science degrees granted statewide in 2012. The majority of graduates from comprehensive bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs remain in their home state. No doubt they will be critical to filling 120,000 Big Data jobs expected by 2018. Equally as important, educated workers will keep Big Data firms thriving in Massachusetts and support the burgeoning industry. This will increase the prosperity and well-being of the Commonwealth.

As a public research university with a statewide geographic presence, UMass is uniquely positioned to spur economic engagement and contribute to Big Data for solving problems in all economic sectors from agriculture and fisheries to manufacturing and health care. For example,

> UMass professors are trailblazers in the field of wearable motion sensors, and the Amherst campus is a founding member of a national center of excellence focused on using mobile sensor data to improve patient health.

Maintaining the Commonwealth’s leadership role in Big Data will require continuing collaboration among UMass, the private sector, and state government. Through concerted efforts and targeted investments

in talent, educational programs, and infrastructure, Massachusetts and UMass will be well equipped to emerge as an international hub of data science discoveries and innovation, home to coveted degree programs, and a primary source for the next generation of Big Data scientists.

This report is organized around each campus’s Big Data activities, research centers, labs, and institutes, and highlights of faculty at work. An appendix lists all faculty members by name, along with their academic department affiliation and research focus area(s).

The UMass Big Data Report

Download The Big Data Report [PDF]