I see a lot of courses in Data Science emerging in the last 2 years. Even big universities like Stanford and Columbia offers MS specifically in Data Science. But as long as I see, it looks like data science is just a mix of computer science and statistics techniques. So I always think about this. If it is just a trend and if in 10 years from now, someone will still mention Data Science as an entire field or just a subject/topic inside CS or stats. What do you think?

  • $\begingroup$ Although this is a very nice and interesting question, I guess it will raise rather primarily opinion-based answers. $\endgroup$
    – Rubens
    May 18 '14 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ Please define long-term, computer science itself really is not that old. $\endgroup$
    – blunders
    May 18 '14 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ While the "Data" subject still alive in digital world, It's scientific improvements / researchs stay alive ;) $\endgroup$
    – sihirbazzz
    May 18 '14 at 23:38

The one thing that you can say for sure is: Nobody can say this for sure. And it might indeed be opinion-based to some extent. The introduction of terms like "Big Data" that some people consider as "hypes" or "buzzwords" don't make it easier to flesh out an appropriate answer here. But I'll try.

In general, interdisciplinary fields often seem to have the problem of not being taken serious by either of the fields they are spanning. However, the more research is invested into a particular field, the greater is the urge to split this field into several sub-topics. And these sub-topics sonner of later have to be re-combined in new ways, in order to prevent an overspecialization, and to increase and broaden the applicability of techniques that are developed by the (over?)specialized experts in the different fields.

And I consider "Data Science" as such an approach to combine the expertise and findings from different fields. You described it as

...a mix of computer science and statistics techniques

And indeed, several questions here aim at the differentiation between data science and statistics. But a pure statistician will most likely not be able to set up a Hadoop cluster and show the results of his analysis in an interactive HTML5 dashboard. And someone who can implement a nice HTML5 dashboard might not be so familiar with the mathematical background of a Chi-Squared-Test.

It is reasonable to assume that giving students enough knowledge to apply the most important techniques from the different fields that are covered by data science will lead to new applications of these techniques, and be beneficial - also for the "purists" in these fields. The combination of these techniques is not straightforward in many cases, and can justify an own branch of research.

You also asked whether in 10 years, data science will be considered as "just a topic inside computer science". Again: Nobody can say for sure. But I wonder at which point people stopped asking the question whether "Computer Science" will one day only be considered only as a mix of (or a subject of) Electrical Engineering and Mathematics...


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