Graduate Programs in Software Launches Center of Excellence for Big Data

The Graduate Programs in Software (GPS) Department announces the opening of a Center of Excellence for Big Data (CoE4BD) to highlight the technologies and concentrate the work it has been doing with capturing, storing, searching, sharing, visualizing and analyzing massive, unstructured, and complicated data sets.

This center is a response to the growing volumes of data used by the private, public, government and academic sectors that are expanding exponentially. Big Data has even been included in a recently announced White House initiative. The Center of Excellence for Big Data will provide research, education and best practices.

Dr. Brad Rubin, software engineering professor at the University of St. Thomas, has been working with UST colleague Dr. Jadin Jackson, a biology clinical professor, to help process collected rat brain neuronal signal data that was gathered as the rats ran a maze. Analyzing a rat’s “brain waves” generates two trillion bytes of data per hour. Rubin and Jackson have been using the CoE4BD to harness a computing cluster in a GPS lab to process this data.

“This is a massive amount of data. The cluster allows processing of data that wouldn’t be possible on a desktop – at least not in a reasonable time frame,” Jackson said.

For this effort, Rubin chose to use Hadoop, an open-source cluster computing framework. “One advantage for Dr. Jackson is to get all of his data in one place,” Rubin said; “also, instead of one computer, we have dozens of computers working on it in parallel, resulting in quicker processing time. We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Jackson on this because it allows us to explore the technology with a real-life application. We hope to work with other faculty and organizations that are looking to mine data – something that is popular in domains ranging from the newly released 1940 U.S. census to click streams.” (Click streams are the sequence of links that are clicked on while browsing a website or series of websites, allowing organizations to learn more about their customers.)

“We seek to help others run their cluster systems more efficiently or use our cluster facilities to help solve problems they haven’t been able to get answers to on their own,” Rubin added. The CoE4BD sees opportunities in math, the sciences, marketing, and other business areas as potential collaborations.

The CoE4BD will be tweeting from @CoE4BD, to bring attention to this growing research area and to report results. CoE4BD welcomes interest from colleagues within the St. Thomas community, as well as the broader technical and business community.

For more information visit, or contact Dr. Bhabani Misra, director, Graduate Programs in Software, (651) 962-5508, or Rubin, (651) 962-5506.