Quiz Of The Week: Big Data

Everyone uses Big Data, from America’s NSA spy agency to Tesco’s ClubCard loyalty scheme and the NHS. But do you know what it is – and why it’s suddenly everywhere?

Big Data is what previous generations knew as Analytics – the art or science of taking huge quantities of data, and extracting hitherto unknown trends and insights from it. It can find unknown far-away planets in astronomy data, or help sell more goods in grocers, or spot lurking bank fraudsters, simply by chewing through lots of information and looking for patterns.

Big Data’s Watching You?

Why should you care? Simply put: whether or not you understand Big Data, the people using Big Data are watching and understanding you.

Modern surveillance such as the NSA’s PRISM and other programmes revealed by Edward Snowden rely on the power of “metadata”, for good or ill. Who you texted, when and how often – and where from – can be as useful to the security services as knowing the exact words yo sent.

And knowing which citizens suffered which illnesses when, is the basis of an ambitious NHS project to share and analyse anonymised data from GPs – one we think is well worth being part of.

The area is taking off because systems  powerful enough to handle nation-sized datassets have become cheap. It’s getting plenty of attention from big companies such as IBM and HP, as well as a horde of startups like Splunk and Cloudera.

There’s a whole new set of software such as Hadoop and Mapreduce behind the growth of the field – and a bunch of jargon too.

All of which tells us it’s about time we treated the field with our customary level of academic rigour.  For your enjoyment we present our…

Big Data Quiz!

If you like it, we have a huge data pile of others…

This week’s Big Data quiz is sponsored by publisher John Wiley & Sons. #

TechWeekEurope is publishing contributions on Big Data from Wiley authors including Ralph Kimball and Nathan Yau

Peter Judge

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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