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Companies are mining data to solve real world challenges

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Big data has been making big news in fields ranging from astronomy to online advertising.

The term big data can be difficult to pin down because it shows up in so many places. Facebook crunches through big data on your user profile and friend network to deliver micro-targeted ads. Google does the same thing with Gmail messages, Search requests and YouTube browsing.

Companies including IBM are sifting through big data from satellites, the Global Positioning System and computer networks to cut down on traffic jams and reduce carbon emissions in cities. And researchers are parsing big data produced by the Hubble Space Telescope, the Large Hadron Collider and numerous other sources to learn more about the nature and origins of the universe.

These processes all involve large amounts of information that were once too vast and messy for even computers to analyze. Now data can be mined for patterns and insights, some of which could spawn major advances in everything from theoretical physics to basic government services. In other words, big data is a chance to take all the things we don’t know we know and finally know them.

Click here for a downloadable document describing five important things to know about big data.

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