December 11, 2013
NYU has launched a multimillion-dollar collaboration to help researchers harness the full potential of the data-rich world and maximize its impact on scientific discovery. This partnership, which also includes the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington, will spur collaborations within and across the three campuses and other partners pursuing similar data-intensive science goals.
The new five-year, $37.8 million initiative, with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is focused on developing innovative partnerships to advance technologies that support advanced data management and data analytic techniques.
At a time when the natural, mathematical, computational, and social sciences are all producing data with relentlessly increasing volume, variety, and velocity, capturing the full potential of a progressively data-rich world has become a daunting hurdle for both data scientists and those who use data science to advance their research.
While data science is already contributing to scientific discovery, substantial systemic challenges need to be overcome to maximize its impact on academic research.
To address these challenges, this effort seeks to achieve three core goals: develop meaningful and sustained interactions and collaborations between researchers, establish long-term career paths, and build on current academic and industrial efforts to work toward an ecosystem of analytical tools and research practices.
The initiative will tap leading researchers at their respective institutions: Yann LeCun, Silver Professor of Computer Science and Neural Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and founding director of NYU’s Center for Data Science; Saul Perlmutter of the University of California, Berkeley; and Ed Lazowska of the University of Washington.
The three leaders believe universities are uniquely positioned to empower researchers to harness the deluge of valuable, heterogeneous, and noisy data continuing to come their way—and help navigate the flood of software analysis tools and approaches that are often incompatible, hard to learn, or poorly written by brilliant scientists trying to get their job done.
“This initiative isn’t just to ‘do’ science—it is to ‘change’ science,” says NYU physics professor David Hogg, who is also part of the initiative. “To that end, we have designed a set of programs and positions at NYU that will help scientists in the domains—for example, astronomy, psychology, and sociology—interact with scientists in the methods—applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science—to make both groups of scientists more capable and more successful.”
Each of the three universities will contribute additional resources to the investment made by the Moore and Sloan foundations, including new faculty positions, physical space on campus, and research support.