on the relational data model has severe limitations. The recent move towards Hadoop for dealing with enormous datasets signals a new set of required skills for data scientists. The final skill set is the most non-standard and elusive, but probably what differentiates effective data scientists. This is the ability to formulateproblems in a way that results in effective solutions. Herbert Simon, the famous economist and “father of Artificial Intelligence” argued that many seemingly different problems are often “isomorphic” in that they have the identical underlying structure. Simon demonstrated that many recursive problems, for example, could be expressed as the standard Towers of Hanoi problem, that is, with identical initial and goal states and operators. Simon observed these differently stated problems took very different amounts of time to solve, representing different levels of difficulty even though they had the identical underlying structure. Simon’s larger point was that is easy to solve seemingly difficult problems if represented creatively.17In a broader sense, formulation expertise involves the ability to see commonalities across very different problems. For example, many problems of interest have “unbalanced target classes” usually denoting that the dependent variable is interesting only a small minority of the time. As an example, very few people commit fraud in population, very few people develop diabetes, and very few people respond to marketing offers or promotions. Yet, these are the cases of interest that we would like to predict. Such problems pose challenges for models which have to go out on a limb to make such predictions which are very likely to be wrong unless the model is very good at discriminating among the classes. Experienced data miners are very familiar with such problems and at knowing how to formulate problems in a way that give a system a chance of making correct predictions under conditions where the priors are stacked heavily against it. The above represent “core skills” for data scientists over thenext decade. The term “computational thinking” coined by Seymour Papert13and elaborated by Wing19is similar to the core skills we describe, but also encompasses abstract thinking about the kinds of problems computers are better at than humans and vice versa, and its implications. There is a scramble at universities to train students in the core skills, and electives that are more suited to specific disciplines. The McKinsey study mentioned earlier projects are roughly 200 thousand additional “deep analytical” positions and 1.5 to 2 million “data manages” over the next five years.The projection of almost two million managers is not just about managing data scientists, but about a fundamental shift in how managerial decisions are being driven by data. The famous Ed Demming’s quote has come to characterize the new orientation from intuition-based decision making to fact-based decision making: “in God we trust, everyone else please bring data.” This isn’t going to be an easy
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