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NSF, NIH, DOD, Other Fed. Agencies Launch "Big Data" Initiative

The New York Times reports that several major federal agencies--including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Department of Energy--will conduct a live webcast from 2:00-3:45 PM, EST, to jointly announce research programs in "big data" computing as part of a broad federal initiative totaling $200 million across the agencies. (The session will include a panel discussion among experts in the field on the opportunities and challenges it poses.) The collective goal of the projects will be to advance the development and implementation of techniques for mining and analyzing massive data sets to identify opportunities for major research advances in the areas the agencies address. As the Times article notes:

"Big data refers to the rising flood of digital data from many sources, including the Web, biological and industrial sensors, video, e-mail and social network communications. The emerging opportunity arises from combining these diverse data sources with improving computing tools to pinpoint profit-making opportunities, make scientific discoveries and predict crime waves, for example."

In October of last year, EDUCAUSE announced an initiative to better define analytics in the context of higher education and explore its potential for advancing institutional efficiency and effectiveness across teaching and learning (emphasizing student success), research, and administration. The association's Analytics page provides links to briefs, archived webinars, and other resources developed thus far, with more to be added over the course of 2012.