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Communications of the ACM


Turning Data Into Knowledge

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will have the ability to survey the entire sky in only three nights.

Credit: LSST Corp.

Today's data deluge is leading to new approaches to visualize, analyze, and catalog enormous datasets.

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David Brown

What I had hoped for, on reading the title of this article, was to learn something about the theoretical frontier of turning data into knowledge -- perhaps on automated pattern recognition, or on formatting data in such a way that the human mind can more easily recognize patterns. As the article said, to "create better computational tools to visualize, analyze, and catalog these enormous datasets".

We know that an information deluge is upon us, and that we need better tools. I would like to see an article on how those tools might come about; a theory of turning data into knowledge.

I think of information as that which has the potential to cause change in the structures of our mind, or what we call knowledge. Information may break down some structures, but should certainly create new structures. Hence, our knowledge is increased.

But raw "data" has little potential to cause such a change in the structures of our mind. How do we go from data to information, and from information to knowledge? Is there a pandisciplinary theory?

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