The DATUM's first exposition session was held on 28th October at LHC in a fairly well attended gathering of students and amid great curiosity and excitement about the group and its intellectually appetizing fare. The session started out with a brief hitchhike into the world of huge and unorganized data that we live in and how by using the humble tools we have of constructing some useful information out of the heap, we can get fantastic insights.
The aim of the group quite simply and crisply put, is to motivate students to develop an intuition of data analytics while solving real world problems, compute and imagine data assessment profitably while solving problems. To break it down, they want you to have the exposure and opportunity to savour the delights of data analytics and possibly fall in love with this brilliant area. The session was inviting in its simplicity. The way so many charming observations and conclusions could be easily whipped up using the so many online tools we have now of accessing and analyzing web data, viz. Google N grams or Google Trends, was appealing. Did you know of the remarkable correlation between appearances of the words 'America' and 'war' in the collection of online books with Google? (Kind of telling?!) Or perhaps, the nearly annual rhythmic spikes in the number of searches for the song 'Wake me up when September ends' over time corresponding to, and you guessed it right, the month September? It is fascinating that there are such patterns in the sea of data online waiting to be mined and perhaps put to some great purpose. This is one of the fundamental aims of the club: to stimulate active interest of the students in the club and help them develop a knack for analytics.
Guests for the occasion and panel members for the interactive talk to follow were Prof. Sumeet Agrawal of the Electrical Engg Dept., Prof. Rahul Garg of the CSE Dept., and Prof. D. Sundar of the DBEB. All of them have had a rich background of exploring the world of analytics and were of the opinion that data analytics in the modern world was an indispensable tool for study and advancement of knowledge in diverse scientific disciplines and therefore an area of intense study and research. Through the evening they substantiated this fact and recounted how even in a relatively short time data analytics had revamped the whole face of several scientific areas. Prof. Sundar was vocal on how the DBEB was heavily reliant on analytics in primal ways and how months of tedious experimentation could go awry if not for a rigorous treatment of known data and simulation beforehand. There is huge save on time as well as other resources like labour and money even if a preliminary treatment of data and analytical runs are made prior to actual experimentation.
The professors gave several examples. The Human Genome Project was an outstanding example. It was mind-boggling to even begin to appreciate the immensity of data that even a single human genome can contain and to productively use it, to single out the changes in cases of disease, to aim to develop elusive personalized medicines, it was a distant dream unless a way to actually analyze and understand the overwhelming heap of data was found out. Eventually that happened and then the AGGTCT... blah blahblah started making sense. Or the case of neuroscience and MRI development: analytics helps us map and understand the mapping of the magnetic resonance from electrical impulses in the brain. This is certainly light years ahead of surgeons poking around with electrodes in the cut open brain to stimulate the arm and whatnot. The panel as a whole tried to drive home the point that the area apart from being indispensable in various areas of modern science, remained an invaluable tool to the rest and even common people like us to filter out nice analyses for useful conclusions.
The group was meting out encouragement for people to dive into the world of analytics and make use of its largely untapped power. It was instigating you to explore this area in the so many aspects of daily life it pervades. From your favorite mobile apps like Shazam to Dream challenges, data analytics is the key to a fascinating world of smart information.