The Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing – NIAC – is a joint initiative of the University of Washington and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Xconomy reports on “NIAC Day” – a day of seminars and working sessions inaugurating NIAC:
“Ed Lazowska, UW computer science professor, director of the eScience Institute, and a key link between PNNL and the university, put aspirations for NIAC—unveiled early this year—in context of the ‘dawn of a new era of discovery.’
“Data-intensive scientific discovery, he says, joins computational science as another arrow in the quiver for researchers, complementing the older methods of theory, experiment, and observation.
“A proliferation of low-cost sensors and simulations is creating a torrent of data that presents enormous opportunities and huge challenges. Smart homes, smart cars, smart health, smart robots operating in unstructured environments—all are enabled by advances in areas such as machine learning, computer vision, and cloud computing.
“‘The big data revolution is what’s putting the smarts in everything,’ Lazowska says. (He is leading a discussion on data-driven discovery at Xconomy’s upcoming public forum: Big Insight—Making Sense of Big Data in Seattle on Nov. 19.)
“For data-intensive science to reach its potential, the onus is on computer scientists to build tools that can be used directly by oceanographers, biologists, geologists, and even sociologists and researchers in other fields, without having to wait for a data scientist to run reports for them. (He likened this potential bottleneck to the database administrators who sat between researchers and their data in the 1970s.)”