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Why Do We Need Data Science - WSJ.pdf - Why Do We Need Data...

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9/14/21, 12:32 PMWhy Do We Need Data Science When We've Had Statistics for Centuries?- WSJPage 1 of 4Data Scienceis emerging as one of the hottest new professions and academic disciplinesin these early years of the 21st century. A number of articleshave notedthat the demandfor data scientists is racing ahead of supply.People with the necessary skills are scarce,primarily because the discipline is so new. But, the situation is rapidly changing, asuniversities around the world have started to offer different kinds of graduate programsin data science. This year, for example, New York University is offering two new degrees--a generalMaster in Data Science, and a more domain-specificMaster in Applied UrbanScience and Informatics.It's very exciting to contemplate the emergence of amajor new discipline. It reminds meof the advent ofcomputer sciencein the 1960s and 1970s. Like data science, computerscience had its roots in a number of related areas, including math, engineering andmanagement. In its early years, the field attracted people from a variety of otherdisciplines who started out using computers in their work or studies, and eventuallyswitched to computer science from their original field.This was the casewith me. I used computers extensively while a student at the Universityof Chicago, where I worked closely withProf. Clemens Roothaan, one of the pioneers inthe use of computers in physics and chemistry. As an undergraduate, I worked part-timeat the university's supercomputing center which he founded. Later he was my thesisadvisor as a graduate student in physics. When the time came to look for a job, I realizedthat I enjoyed the computing side of my work more than the physics. I decided to switchfields and in 1970 joined the computer science department atIBM'sWatson ResearchCenter.Not unlike data science today, computing had to overcome the initial resistance of someprominent academics.I still remember a meeting in 1965 with a very eminent physicistfrom whom I was taking a graduate course. He asked me what I planned to do research onfor my degree, and I told him that I was already working with Prof. Roothaan on atomicand molecular calculations. He just said that good theoretical physics should require nomore than pencil and paper, rather than these elaborate new computers. In his mind, thiswasn't real physics. A number of the physics faculty felt the same way. Change does notcome easy, even for brilliant physicists.

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Term
Fall
Professor
ClaireLandes

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