More on the Economist’s special report on big data

March 4, 2010

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I totally missed this the other day, but there’s much more to that special report on the data deluge in The Economist. (Thanks to readers SB and DN for pointing this out.) There’s an total of nine articles in the report (you can find them all in the Related Items box on this page), including a section on business intelligence analytics: "A different game: Information is transforming traditional business". It offers anecdotes of how companies like Cablecom, Best Buy and Wal-Mart have used predictive analytics to better manage their businesses. The article also has a short section on technology used for such applications, including this on R:

A free programming language called R lets companies examine and present
big data sets, and free software called Hadoop now allows ordinary PCs
to analyse huge quantities of data that previously required a
supercomputer. It does this by parcelling out the tasks to numerous
computers at once. This saves time and money. For example, the New York Times a
few years ago used cloud computing and Hadoop to convert over 400,000
scanned images from its archives, from 1851 to 1922. By harnessing the
power of hundreds of computers, it was able to do the job in 36 hours.

It’s nice to see the open-source combination of Hadoop and R getting recognition as the engine behind many such large-scale problems in predictive modeling.

The Economist: A different game

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