Big Data is a field that will touch every aspect of our lives, from healthcare to education, to governments, etc. It is a METUan’s ideology that, “Together, we can change the World.” Hence, to guide its undergraduates in their path to change the world, one of METU NCC goals is to educate them to be among the leaders of the Age of Big Data rather than mere adapters of it.
What is Big Data?
The single pieces of a puzzle by themselves are nothing more than a cheap and useless paperboard. However, their contribution to solving the puzzle is highly significant. Analogously, pieces of the puzzle are the data, and the whole puzzle solved is the information.
To gain the ability to make a decision regarding a situation, one needs to have information, which the human brain integrates to knowledge. Consequently, to gain that information, one needs to have masses of data. Now that we have access to the mass of data and are starting to get a little control of that, we are taking a step into the Age of Big Data.
How do we have access to the data that we did not use to have before?
It is erroneous to claim that we did not have access to data before the Age of Big Data. What changed was the amount of the data, hence the name Big Data. So how did we gain this much amount of data?
To start with, the myriads of utilities we use started getting digitalized. For example, robot vacuum cleaners have sensors that detect how far they have travelled. Besides, they have sensors to detect obstacles they face on their way. Furthermore, they can record all the measurements and data. In some cases, the company has the authority to access these data. Imagine a third party knowing how many meters square your house is! This data solely can not give them any insight regarding you. However, a collection of these data can indeed provide them with an idea about you.
Besides the utilities, social media, search engines, and software applications are also data hunters. Think of all the pictures you liked and commented. For instance, this can give the company owning Facebook to know what you like. To give another example, Google can see the number of people searching for flu symptoms. Having this information, it can predict the start of a pandemic way before its arrival.
Indisputably, we do some stuff blindly. Have you thought what it actually means when you give the applications you download permission to access your camera, microphone, location, etc.? They can actually track where you go, see your surrounding using the camera, and hear you by the microphone.
Who makes use of Big Data?
It is a common saying that if you aren’t paying for a product, you are the product. Have you ever wondered why Facebook doesn’t charge you or why you don’t pay for online shopping sites? It is because you give them data that helps them attract more customers. To achieve this, they can make more personalized services hence be more appealing to the customers. In other words, you are their product because you help them raise their revenue.
Think of the advertisements you see on T.V.—most of us avoid watching them. We have even stopped watching T.V., and this is because there is nothing personalized there. The word advertisements, which get into our nerves, is replaced by “recommendations”—that’s why we watch Netflix. In other words, the market no longer shows us all the unrelated and impersonal advertisements. Instead, every “recommendation” is placed where it belongs. Would you ever watch a YouTube recommendation while you are shopping online on Amazon? However, you would never refuse to continue watching YouTube after receiving a recommendation related to what you enjoy watching.
It may appear like Big Data is only used to invite you to suffocate in the deeper part of the swamp. However, it is also used to pull us from the swamp. It also has very positive applications. For example, doctors use Big Data to offer personalized treatment to patients, which boosts their recovery. Artificial intelligence can also utilize Big Data to detect patterns that are challenging for humans to see.
Consequently, a time will come where the A.I.s will be more reliable in diagnosing diseases than doctors. You can watch this video called “This A.I. is Beating Doctors At Their Own Game” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDgkmXAsvL8.
What are the inevitable problems encountered while dealing with Big Data?
No pain, no gain, right? However, it is more reasonable to change that to “No effort, no gain,” because merely not all efforts are painful. So, if Big Data is taking us a critical step forward in most fields, this surely needs to come with many obstacles that require considerable effort to overcome.
The four main characteristics of Big Data are, at the same time, the source of complications while dealing with them. They are known as the four V’s of Big Data: Volume, Variety, Veracity, and Velocity.
Expectedly, Big Data has a huge volume. Indeed, that is what makes it differ from standard data. Moreover, the data that we produce comes in a variety of formats: texts, images, videos, audio. In addition to these, the velocity in which Big Data arrives is at its full tilt. Finally, how meaningful or to what degree does the data reflect the reality is called its veracity. Consequently, all these factors need to be dealt with before the application of Big Data.
Why being in METU NCC is a +1 if you are willing to be a Big Data Developer?
To make the long story short, the Big Data Developers come up with Hadoop applications to solve the 4-V problems I mentioned above. To be capable of coding such applications, one needs to have good programming skills. They also need to have good knowledge of database structures.
Besides the technical skills, having soft skills, such as problem solving and communication, is crucial. METU NCC guides you to develop these soft skills by encouraging you to join the student societies. For example, the Problem Solving Society regularly holds events that improve your critical thinking and, hence, problem-solving skills. Moreover, the IEEE student society is an international society that unites professionals all across the world. Being a part of this society will, no doubt, develop your social and communication skills. If you would like to know more about the societies, you can check out this blog https://metucyprus.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-societies-at-metu/.
Furthermore, the Computer Engineering Program at METU NCC offers courses that teach various programming languages such as Python, C, C#, Java, etc., both theoretically and practically. Supplementarily, Data Structure, and Data Management and File Structures are only two among many other courses offered by the Computer Engineering Program, which are necessary for a Big Data Developer. More than that, if you are willing to step further into the data world, you can have a minor in Data Science offered in METU NCC.
Take your sticks and stones to join the Big Data revolution
Indeed, my words are powerless in describing the potential of Big Data. However, METU NCC has the full ammunition to supply you with the sticks and stones to join the Big Data revolution.
If you have any further questions regarding the Age of Big Data or the opportunities METU NCC offers to be among the leaders of this age, do not hesitate to ask in the comment section. I will be glad to answer them.