From molecules to the Milky Way: dealing with the data deluge

November 7, 2007

Most people have a few gigabytes of files on their PC. In the next decade, astronomers expect to be processing 10 million gigabytes of data every hour from the Square Kilometre Array telescope.

And with DNA sequencing getting cheaper, scientists will be data mining possibly hundreds of thousands of personal human genome databases, each of 50 gigabytes.

CSIRO has a new research program aimed at helping science and business cope with masses of data from areas like astronomy, gene sequencing, surveillance, image analysis and climate modelling.

The research program, which began this year, is called ‘Terabyte Science’ and is named for the data sets that start at terabytes (thousands of gigabytes) in size, which are now commonplace.

“CSIRO recognises that, for its science to be internationally competitive, the organisation needs to be able to analyse large volumes of complex, even intermittently available, data from a broad range of scientific fields,” says program leader, Dr John Taylor, from CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences.

One aspect of the problem is that methods that work with small data sets don’t necessarily work with large ones.

An aim of the program is to develop completely new mathematical approaches and processes for scientists in a range of disciplines to further their research and boost Australia’s position as a world science leader.

“Large and complex data is emerging almost everywhere in science and industry and it will hold back Australian research and business if it isn’t dealt with in a timely way,” Dr Taylor says.

Countries like the US also recognise the challenges, as Dr Taylor has seen first hand in his ten years’ working in laboratories there.

“This will need major developments in computer infrastructure and computational tools. It involves IT people, mathematicians and statisticians, image technologists, and other specialists from across CSIRO all working together in a very focussed way,” he says.

After a workshop in September, specific research areas have been identified and projects are progressing in advanced manufacturing, high throughput image analysis, modelling ocean biogeochemical cycles, situation analysis and environmental modelling.

Source: CSIRO Australia

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.