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Data science remains a high-touch activity, especially in life, physical, and social sciences. Data management and manipulation tasks consume too much bandwidth: Specialized tools and technologies are difficult to use together, issues of scale persist despite the Cambrian explosion of big data systems, and public data sources (including the scientific literature itself) suffer curation and quality problems.
Together, these problems motivate a research agenda around “human-data interaction:” understanding and optimizing how people use and share quantitative information.
I’ll describe some of our ongoing work in this area at the University of Washington eScience Institute.
In the context of the Myria project, we're building a big data "polystore" system that can hide the idiosyncrasies of specialized systems behind a common interface without sacrificing performance. In scientific data curation, we are automatically correcting metadata errors in public data repositories with cooperative machine learning approaches. In the Viziometrics project, we are mining patterns of visual information in the scientific literature using machine vision, machine learning, and graph analytics. In the VizDeck and Voyager projects, we are developing automatic visualization recommendation techniques. In graph analytics, we are working on parallelizing best-of-breed graph clustering algorithms to handle multi-billion-edge graphs.
The common thread in these projects is the goal of democratizing data science techniques, especially in the sciences.