What is Data Science?

Data science is the creation and application of powerful new methods to collect, curate, analyze, and make discoveries from large-scale data.

Data are simply pieces of information, values or variables that can be used to describe a person, object, or other thing.

In the digital era, human beings create data round the clock, through mediums such as smart phones, the internet, and social media. We generate over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and that number is constantly increasing. In fact, over 90% of data has been collected over the past five years.

When learning about data science, one often hears the term 'big data.' Big data refers to data sets (collections of data) with massive amounts of complex information that are difficult to manipulate and understand using traditional data processing methods. Data science focuses on the concepts, methods, and applications for extracting meaning from big data and has become an emerging discipline in the 21st century.

Although we have the tools to access vast amounts of information, we constantly need to develop and wield newer and better tools to interpret it. Data is created across a variety of fields (medicine and health, energy and the environment, and economics and politics among others), so data science is applicable to almost anything. By learning how to interpret data, we can better understand and even solve some of the greatest challenges facing the world today. The possibilities are huge as data science transforms science, business, and our everyday lives.

At the University of Rochester, researchers employ data science to further everything from health analytics and cognitive science to business and artificial intelligence, and are using data science to develop new methods, tools, and infrastructures to better understand the world around them.