A special lecture on big data was the focal point of an Imperial alumni reunion in Shanghai on 16 May.
Computer scientist Professor Yike Guo introduced the realities, possibilities and challenges of big data for universities and businesses.
Professor Guo explained how being able to process and analyse data sets at ever greater orders of magnitudes is transforming science: from genome sequencing to the search for the Higg’s boson.
Professor Guo described the wide range of applications for big data, with examples including the analysis of sentiment on social media and the calculation of house prices based on factors such as traffic levels and crime rates.
He concluded that greater big data capabilities may actually increase the need for human input. As Professor Guo said, data science will make “human ingenuity more important than ever – this is where the real value will be added, and how progress will be made.”
President & Rector Sir Keith O’Nions updated the Shanghai group on recent developments at Imperial, including the newly opened alumni lounge in South Kensington where visiting graduates are invited to enjoy what has been described as “first-class airline lounge” style facilities.
Sir Keith also described the vision for Imperial West, the College’s new London campus. “At Imperial West we will bridge the interface between science, technology, medicine and business. Researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs will collaborate in rapidly evolving fields such as big data,” he said.
Matt Burney, the British Consul for Culture & Education in Shanghai, also spoke at the event, noting that both the UK and Chinese governments are committed at the highest level to growing China-UK links in education.
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