Actuarial news and views from Cape Town and beyond

SKA – the Ultimate Big Data Challenge

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Big Data is one of the latest buzzwords being used in the field of statistics. Due to the sheer volume of data being produced by current data collection methods, new statistical techniques are needing to be developed in order to handle it. People’s willingness to share information constantly through the use of mobile devices allows agencies to receive constant streams of data allowing them to track anything from sales patterns to the location of potholes.

As stated in the first of the referenced articles, actuaries are ideally placed in order to tackle these challenges, as they have deep statistical knowledge, added to the fact that predictive models are their bread and butter. The use of predictive models is expanding away from predominantly financial spheres, and into the spaces of medicine, law and sport.

The latest Big Data challenge is that posed by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA is based in southern Africa, and it is an attempt to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. According to IBM, “the aperture arrays and dishes of the SKA will produce 10 times the global internet traffic, but the power to process all of this data as it is collected far exceeds the capabilities of the current state-of-the-art technology.”

In order to deal with this amount of data, new computer systems and analysis techniques need to be developed. The benefit of this is that their use will overflow into other systems and will effectively leave a “legacy” for future analysis of Big Data.


One thought on “SKA – the Ultimate Big Data Challenge

  1. Big Data is a BIG buzzword in the world these days – a lot of people see the processing and making sense of big data sets as the next big innovation in society. The second half of today’s lecture is by Illana Meltzer from 80twenty who works with big datasets a lot and will talk to some of the challenges of interpreting such data.

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