Modelling: Big Data & Society – UCL CoMPLEX Annual Conference
The UCL CoMPLEX Annual Conference continued the theme of Big Data, which has figured quite prominently in conferences this year. The speakers at this year's CoMPLEX annual conference, Dr David Weston (Birkbeck), Dr Drew Purves (Microsoft Research), Professor Gesine Reinert (Oxford), Dr Peter White (Imperial, Public Health England), Professor Michael Stumpf (Imperial) and Professor Chris Gilligan (Cambridge, newly announced Chair of JNCC) all highlighted some of the recurrent themes that occupy our minds, in how we develop the necessary tools and methods to be able to gain deep insights from the vast amounts of data available to us.
There has been much discussion about the application of Big Data to solve some of the great challenges of our time. However there has not been as much discussion on developing a theory of Big Data. Developing theoretical foundations is essential to making discoveries from Big Data; without the theoretical underpinnings we will not unlock the power of Big Data. Indeed we will potentially miss other lines of thinking, which can lead to a wealth of scientific discovery.
Developing a theory of Big Data is one of the most exciting challenges we face, as we bring together different fields, from information theory, to statistics to computer science. Such theoretical underpinnings will enable every discipline to approach big research questions in novel ways, and provide a common language by which different disciplines can communicate with each other.
The Big Data revolution can, and is a great enabler for interdisciplinary research. We now need to develop strong theoretical concepts to be to really maximise the latent power of Big Data to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time.
To that end UCL is organising a workshop in January 2015 -1st UCL Workshop on the Theory of Big Data - which we very much look forward to.