The federal government is beginning a major research initiative in big data computing. The effort, which will be announced on Thursday, involves several government agencies and departments, and commitments for the programs total $200 million.
Administration officials compare the initiative to past government research support for high-speed networking and supercomputing centers, which have had an impact in areas like climate science and Web browsing software.
“This is that level of importance,” said Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The future of computing is not just big iron. It’s big data.”
Big data refers to the rising flood of digital data from many sources, including the Web, biological and industrial sensors, video, e-mail and social network communications. The emerging opportunity arises from combining these diverse data sources with improving computing tools to pinpoint profit-making opportunities, make scientific discoveries and predict crime waves, for example.