Sunday, February 12, 2012

Operations Research, Analytics, and Big Data -- These Are Exciting Times for Math and Computing

For all the geeks out there who love math and computing and know the power of both to solve important problems -- your time has come and you are truly cool now.

We are now in the era of big data in which knowing and applying the right analytical tools from operations research to statistical data mining can transform decision-making.

The applications are immense and range from business to social sciences to healthcare, political science, and even policy analysis.

Steve Lohr has a terrific article in The New York Times, The Age of Big Data, which states:

If you can see patterns and make sense of the explosion of data, you are the future.

In addition, according to the article, in order to exploit the data flood, the US will need many analysts with a deep knowledge and appreciation for numbers, data, and how to extract and apply the information that is now available from web traffic to GPS data to sensor data. A report last year by the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm, projected that the United States needs 140,000 to 190,000 more workers with “deep analytical” expertise and 1.5 million more data-literate managers, whether retrained or hired.

To really know how to make use of the data for better decision-making one needs mathematical models and algorithms, and, hence, education in operations research and management science (OR/MS) is now more important than ever.

Pick your favorite area of application and with an OR/MS education and skill set you can make a difference (and have so much data at your fingertips to work with).