Increasingly in the 21st century, our daily lives leave behind a detailed digital record: our shifting thoughts and opinions shared on Twitter, our social relationships, our purchasing habits, our information seeking, our photos and videos—even the movements of our bodies and cars. Naturally, for those interested in human behavior, this bounty of personal data is irresistible. Decision makers of all kinds, from company executives to government agencies to researchers and scientists, would like to base their decisions and actions on this data. In response, a new discipline of big data analytics is forming. Fundamentally, big data analytics is a workflow that distills terabytes of low-value data (e.g., every tweet) down to, in some cases, a single bit of high-value data (Should Company X acquire Company Y? Can we reject the null hypothesis?).
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