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What Is Big Data?

MFG Archive

With great debate surrounding the definition of big data, we look at Berkeley University's unique take on defining the term

Top recurring themes in Berkeley’s research on definitions (word cloud via Wordle )


Here at Markets For Good, we all agree that ‘big data’ is a powerful tool that we need to harness. What we, and seemingly everyone else struggles to agree on, is quite how to define it. As a result, Berkeley’s School Of Information’s Data Science blog released this article asking ‘What Is Big Data?’ What makes their blog post a unique and compelling read, is that they asked the question to 42 thought leaders from a varied range of industries.

Before you read the full list of definitions, lets start at the most basic level. Big Data was recently inserted into The Oxford English Dictionary as “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

Building on this starting point, Berkeley began their research, asking industry experts for their definitions, all of which you can read here. Some of the trends in the results that the team at Berkeley identified include regular reference to “volume, velocity, and variety.” Despite this commonality, “others argue that it’s not the size of data that counts, but the tools being used or the insights that can be drawn from a dataset,” which highlights the range in opinions and attitudes to what big data actually is.

That there are so many varied definitions for big data emphasises how much work we still have to put in to both understand and get the most from it. We would love to hear from you, our readers, how you define big data, and which of the experts’ definitions you like the most, so comment below and get tweeting.

Enjoy the full list of definitions and be sure to tweet us your favorites at Markets For Good. Thanks to Data Science at Berkeley for sharing their research – be sure to give them a follow on Twitter.

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