Campus news

UTSC stream teaches how to tame big data

Advances in computer and communications technology have left the world awash in massive amounts of electronic information. Responding to this need, UTSC has introduced a new stream that focuses on the tools and techniques for working with big data.

The new Statistical Machine Learning and Data Mining specialist stream is one of the first of its kind in Canada. Offered by the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, this exciting, high impact area focuses on making sense of vast amounts of data, looking for patterns that enable people to predict behaviours that couldn’t be predicted in the past.

The techniques involved allow cameras to recognize and focus on faces; they allow computers to understand human speech and transcribe it. This is how Netflix, for example, can recommend what movie you should watch, based on your previous choices and those of other customers.

“Statistics traditionally was a field that allowed you to try and make confident inferences from relatively small amounts of data,” says David Fleet, chair of the deparment.

“Big data and data analytics today are really about building models where we have massive amounts of heterogeneous data, so much data that we don’t know how to visualize it and make sense of it,” he says.

This new option has already received acclaim from companies including Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.