An interdisciplinary Big Data symposium was held at National Taiwan University on April 21, 2014. The symposium was convened by NTU Academic Vice-president (陳良基) and hosted by the Intel-NTU Connected Context Computing Center , with the directors across NTU’s various research centers and personnel from the private sectors in attendance.
The symposium was held under three themes so that a more comprehensive discussion could take place. The themes were respectively based on the data of human behavior (Data of the People), the generation of data (Data by the People), and the human application of data (Data for the People).
Big Data is characterized by what is commonly known as the 3 Vs ― volume, variety and velocity. As opposed to Small Data, which can be processed by a small-scale software from a single computer, Big Data, which is essentially a large quantity of all types of data flowing at an extremely high rate, requires large-scale computing solutions to process and analyze. The 3Vs pose both opportunities and challenges for Big Data research and development, and as a result, they were the main concerns and points of discussions at the symposium.
So what is NTU’s role in the development of Big Data application?
During the opening ceremony, President Pan-Chyr Yang (楊泮池) pointed out that NTU is in an advanced position to conduct Big Data research as our institute encompasses a strong foundation in the various fields that Big Data application has the most potential. These include the humanities, social science, engineering, medicine, and agriculture. Yang noted, however, that there is still a need to create space for interdisciplinary research within the university; therefore he hoped that the symposium served as the first of many interdisciplinary interactions to come, making NTU a beacon for creative and innovative Big Data research.
The challenges underlying Big Data include its timeliness, validity, security, and most importantly, the means by which data can be extracted and transformed into meaningful information. Following the “Internet of Things” where all forms of material are constantly digitized, Professor Shou-De Lin (林守德) of the Intel-NTU Center pointed out that another important challenge that needs to be addressed is the cost of data transmission. As a result, he suggested that research be done on maximizing transmission efficiency so as to minimize costs.
On the other hand, Big Data also creates massive opportunities in a variety of fields. In medicine, for example, from the microscopic level of DNA research to a social-political level of medical policies, Big Data puts the complex and massive amount of data needed for research, diagnosis, and treatment within hand’s reach across the globe. Based on this opportunity, the NTU Center for Systems Biology, Neurobiology and Cognitive Science Center, and Molecular Imaging Center are currently working on the localization of medical Big Data by creating a data analysis software that makes Big Data applicable to Taiwan’s medical research. Once completed, the system is expected to assist in the development of local medical research, which will in turn help improve the nation’s public health and health policies.
Other Big Data applications include digital archives, cloud-based data solutions, commercial and governmental applications, and compiling massive amounts of data for natural disaster prevention. All this data and these forms of knowledge are waiting to be organized into wisdom to enhance the human experience. As a result, the NTU Big Data symposium hoped to promote the understanding of Big Data while allowing dialogue between the different fields to take place. As participants exchanged knowledge and expertise, the symposium was able to spark innovative ideas for NTU’s development of Big Data research.