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MIT to Host Big Data Research Programs

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Two new big data initiatives launched at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) yesterday could go a long way to establishing the state as a major centre for big data research. As reported on in The Boston Globe and Computer World, the first initiative, called bigdata@CSAIL, is a business-sponsored research group comprised of more than 25 MIT professors and researchers. The second, the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data at CSAIL, will see the computer-chip giant earmark $2.5 million a year for five years to fund a new big data research centre. Both programs will be hosted by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was at the MIT press conference, where he spoke about the government’s efforts to help grow the state’s high tech industry, especially in the big data sector (the state is currently home to more than 100 big data companies). “We’ll organize the resources at MIT to advance research and train the next generation of data scientists,” Patrick said.

Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts state secretary of housing and economic development, also announced the launch of several new government programs to support big data research. The most ambitious is the “Big Data Consortium,” a committee of Massachusetts academic and industry leaders that will partner with the nonprofit Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to create a matching grant program for big data projects. The consortium will also partner with several big data companies and venture capital firms to sponsor “Hack/Reduce,” a Boston nonprofit center where big data experts share infrastructure resources and knowledge.

Pradeep Dubey, director of Intel’s Parallel Computing Lab in California, is optimistic about the research potential of Mitel’s new MIT program. “Big data is massive, it’s unstructured, and it changes rapidly,” he said. “Our aim will be to make it more useful to individuals and companies.”

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