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Big Data vs Data Mining

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
Chances are you've heard the terms 'big data' and 'data mining' thrown around quite a bit, especially if you work in a field that is information intensive. But what do they mean? This lesson explains the role of each.

New Ways of Looking at Information

When you think of places to keep data, how often do you actually imagine a filing cabinet? Or when you envision a spreadsheet, do you really imagine a gigantic piece of paper?

With all the advances in technology over the past 40 years, the way business is done has been revolutionized. That also means that the ways that companies interact with their data have forever changed. Two of the most important ways that companies interact with information that was once thought unimaginable are big data and data mining. However, these two are actually quite different.

What is Big Data?

Over the past few years, the amount of data that we produce has grown tremendously. Try to go a day without creating digital data, I dare you. You can't touch your phone, your TV, or your computer. You will also have to pay for everything using cash. And forget about tracking your steps or heart rate with your new wearable health monitor. So, you see my point about creating digital data?

There's just one question - where does it all go?

That's where big data comes into play. Everything you do is creating data, and big data allows researchers to look at it as a whole and see if there are trends. If you've ever studied statistics, you know that polls are more accurate if a larger sample size is used. Big data lets researchers examine everyone all at once, making it the largest sample size possible.

What is Data Mining?

Data mining, on the other hand, has been around a bit longer. That said, it is still quite important. If you want to understand data mining, check out a baseball player's statistics sheet. As a rule, baseball players do one of two things - they pitch, or they bat. Sure, they field and run the bases, but at the end of the day, so much of baseball is about the showdown between the pitcher and the batter. Yet an enormous amount of statistical analysis has been created about every batter and even more about every pitcher. That is data mining - taking a limited amount of data and looking at it in every conceivable way to find trends.

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