Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Part of NSF's "Big Data Brain Trust"

Researchers Will Confront Challenges of Big Data as Members of the Northeast Data Innovation Hub

Sunday, November 1, 2015 - by Byron Spice

The Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs cover all 50 states and include commitments from more than 250 organizations. (Image courtesy of the NSF.)

Today, the National Science Foundation announced the funding of four regional Big Data Innovation Hubs. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, Mellon College of Science, Heinz College and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), a joint effort between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, are part of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub, led by Columbia University.

Howard Wactlar, research professor of computer science and member of the Northeast Hub's Executive Steering Committee, said the hubs will promote access for academic researchers to large datasets compiled by companies and governments, which in turn will lead to the development of analytical tools that can be used to probe data and make new discoveries. This is an area that CMU already pursues aggressively through the Metro21 and Traffic21 initiatives and recent projects with UPMC and Boeing to explore health care and aeronautical data, respectively, he noted.

The Northeast Hub consists of researchers from 40 universities and partners from industry, government and non-profit sectors based in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and the six New England states. Representatives will come together to discuss how big data can be best used to address pressing problems in the region.

Cheryl Begandy, director of education, outreach and training at PSC, will serve on the hub's Advisory Steering Committee. She will also collaborate with J. Ray Scott, director of systems and operations at PSC, on the hub's Data Sharing Connector Team, which will study platforms and formats for regional data sharing, including software to allow researchers to annotate and publish their own data. PSC also intends to play a significant role in enabling efficient storage and analysis of the hub's large public data.

Richard Stafford, director of CMU's Metro21 Initiative and Distinguished Service Professor in the Heinz College, will participate in the hub's Cities and Regions spoke. This group, led by New York University, will work to develop a better understanding of the science of cities, and how the application of big-data analytics and informatics can generate operational efficiencies and improve quality of life for residents of urban centers. Metro21 is a multidisciplinary research and educational initiative at Carnegie Mellon working in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh since July of 2014 to research, develop, and deploy data-driven tools that provide tangible solutions to challenges affecting the economy and quality of life in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

Physics Professor Mike Widom will be working with a group led by the State University of New York, Buffalo, that will explore how data analytics can be used to manage the massive amounts of data related to our energy supply and delivery systems. Widom, a theoretical physicist whose work focuses on materials, is interested in unifying existing, diverse data sets that will help researchers to better understand what materials are most useful for energy production and storage.

In addition to his role on the Executive Steering Committee, Wactlar will participate in the Health and the Discovery Science research spoke.

Read more on the NSF's website.

For more information, Contact:
Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 |