RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – RTI International formed the Center for Statistical and Data Sciences to tackle big data.
“We are creating an analytic core within RTI that will have the tools, techniques and abilities to answer the big data questions for all areas of expertise at RTI,” said Craig Hill, unit vice president of survey and computing sciences and acting director of the center at RTI. “Every one of our research areas across RTI will encounter the need to answer big questions using big data and data science techniques or approaches. We’re integrating a set of functional experts to help our clients answer those questions in all RTI’s research areas from energy to health.”
The center brings together about 80 staff members within RTI that include data modelers, computational scientists, statisticians, and experts in predictive analytics. RTI also plans to hire a few additional scientists to join the center this year.
“Marrying the skills of these experts to those of RTI’s subject matter experts makes a powerful combination that should help solve society’s most pressing problems,” Hill said.
Big data refers to a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.
RTI will use data science techniques, which incorporates elements of computational science, data management, statistical data visualization, data modeling and predictive analytics to handle big data challenges.
“These data science approaches allow us to analyze massive amounts of data, quickly, and model or predict outcomes as opposed to merely describing the current—or past—state of any phenomenon we’re studying,” Hill said. “It’s important to point out that we already do a lot of this type of work across the institute. In fact, we’ve done close to 100 ’big data’ or data science-type projects in the past year. What’s new is that the center allows us to coordinate these activities in a more efficient way so that we can bring greater value to our clients.”