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How Big Data Has Fundamentally Changed Research

Blog: The Tibco Blog

One of the greatest benefits offered by the volume and velocity of big data is how it provides enormous quantities of information to people in different roles. This includes additional data about customers’ behaviors and preferences that is available to marketers as well as extended information about market and economic conditions that line of business leaders can collect, analyze, and act on.

Researchers in a variety of disciplines have also been able to reap incredible gains from their uses of big data and opportunities to expand the boundaries of statistical analyses. For instance, clinical researchers such as those at the Institute for Computational Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco have been able to gather and analyze the differences between the gene and protein levels from cancerous tumors and normal tissues. In an interview with The Guardian on the topic, Idit Kosti, a postdoctoral fellow at the institute, says the use of big data for next generation sequencing has enabled the team she’s on to create models and suggest changes in clinical treatments given to cancer patients.

The use and analysis of big data is also enabling astronomers to learn more about the origins of the universe. Scientists at Illustris have developed a computer simulation of the evolution of the universe and are using insights gained from these efforts to predict how celestial bodies, black holes, and galaxies are expected to change over time. Big data has allowed the Illustris team to simulate as large a portion of the universe as possible and to enter as much available detail about individual galaxies. This has enabled the research team to increase its understanding of the formation of galaxies and the paths they have taken to reach their present state. This includes relationships between the present day ratio of the amount of stars to dark matter for galaxies of all masses and the total amount of star formation in the universe as a function of time.

Meanwhile, researchers are also applying big data to address other urgent concerns. According to new climatic research conducted by researchers at Columbia University and the University of Idaho, as much as 27% of the massive drought that’s currently impacting California can be attributed to global warming. The research has found that the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is effectively sucking California’s soils and plants dry under a process known as evapotranspiration and how this is increasing the severity of the current drought. Researchers in the study believe the findings can be applied by California’s water managers for more effective supply and demand planning.

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