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Data Scientist degree programs

January 23, 2012

Prediction: in the next 10 years we will see the majority of major universities start masters degree programs, or Ph.D. programs, in data science, data analytics, business analytics, or the like. They will exist somewhere in the intersection of the fields of statistics, operations research, and computer science, and business. They will teach students how to use machine learning algorithms and various statistical methods, and how to design expert systems. Then they will send these newly minted data scientists out to work at McKinsey, Google, Yahoo, and possibly Data Without Borders.

The questions yet unanswered:

  • Relevance: will they also teach the underlying theory well enough so that the students will know when the techniques are applicable?
  • Skepticism: will they in general teach enough about robustness in order for the emerging data scientists to be sufficiently skeptical of the resulting models?
  • Ethics: will they incorporate understanding the impact of the models so that students will think to understand the ethical implications of modeling? Will they have a well-developed notion of the Modeler’s Hippocratic Oath by then?
  • Open modeling: will they focus narrowly on making businesses more efficient or will they focus on developing platforms which are open to the public and allow people more views into the models, especially when the models in question affect that public?

Open questions. And important ones.

Here’s one that’s already been started at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Categories: data science
  1. David F. Austin
    January 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    The Master of Science in Analytics at NCSU


    was established in 2007, and has had an ethics component from the beginning. I don’t know whether Derman’s Modeler’s Oath is explicitly discussed in the MSA’s courses – I don’t teach in the program – but some do take seriously the ideas that the Oath expresses.


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