Big Data research award for computing lecturer

05 March 2014

Big Data research award for computing lecturer

Big Data is data too large for databases to process effectively

GCU researchers will play an important role in a new project to unlock the economic and social potential of Big Data – collections of digital information so huge new tools and techniques are needed to interpret them.

Dr Martin Halvey, a Computer, Communication and Interactive Systems lecturer in GCU’s School of Engineering and Built Environment, has received £24,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for work which will understand and improve the way data is categorised and labelled.

Dr Halvey will work with colleagues at the University of Sheffield, Catalyst Repository Systems, National Fairground Archive and British Universities Film and Video Council. The total funding is around £99,000.

Data is being collected and digitised in databases at a faster rate than ever before. For this information to be useful it must be categorised and annotated. This process, whether done by computers or by human workers, is still being improved.

Big Data, classified as quantities of data too large for existing databases and techniques to process effectively, is collected in a wide range of fields and disciplines, including medical data, consumer data, internet search, history and scientific experiments, to name only a few.

The ‘understanding the annotation process: annotation for big data’ project will gain a better understanding of the process, creating guidelines, approaches and processes for providing the most cost effective and accurate annotations for data sets.

Dr Halvey said: “Data is being collected and created at the fastest rate in human history and by far the vast majority of this is in digital format.

“This vast collection of existing and new information creates new opportunities and also difficulties. This information must be categorised and annotated, so that sense can be made of the data and also so that the correct data can be accessed more easily.

“Working with our partners, we aim to investigate and offer recommendations on how to improve this vital process.”


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