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Bringing Data Mining into the Mainstream


Plumbing the world’s ever-growing pools of digitized information—on the Web, in corporate databases, generated by scientific research—for wisdom and profit is a growth industry today. The geeky field even has a shorthand name, "big data."

So it is scarcely surprising that a four-day conference in Washington, organized by the Association for Computing Machinery, and focused on knowledge discovery and data mining, is attracting corporate researchers and university scientists in record numbers.

The papers submitted and workshops convened at the conference, which began on Sunday, point to breadth of the field. The targets of big-data sleuthing range from behavioral targeting to cancer research.

Leading technology companies—I.B.M., Microsoft, Oracle, SAP—have all made large investments in the last few years in business intelligence and analytics software, to offer advanced data mining products to corporate customers. And they join the longtime specialist, SAS Institute, a private company in Cary, NC.

But for all the excitement and investment, profitably probing large data sets remains an elite undertaking, costly for companies and difficult for users.

From The New York Times
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