Embracing the Ambiguity and Potential of Data Science

Over the last few years, there has been enormous hype in the media about data science and Big Data. A reasonable first reaction is skepticism and confusion. Isn’t statistical science already the science of data? Well, yes and no. In this column, we will explain a view of data science as a broader field, a field that blends the boundaries of statistics, software engineering, mathematics, computer science, visualization, and decision theory with other disciplinary fields such as economics, finance, marketing, public policy, psychology, and sociology, to name just a few. It will describe why and how statistical education must be transformed to teach a wider range of skills that will allow future students to have greater flexibility in the types of data they can analyze and greater flexibility in the methods they use to analyze data.

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