The University of Washington has a long history of advancing the methodology and practice of data science, including achievements by the Center of Statistics in the Social Sciences and the eScience Institute.

Now, UW is launching Ph.D. tracks in "Big Data" through a partnership between Computer Science & Engineering and Statistics.

The Big Data tracks will be an overlay on top of departments' regular quals requirements, leading to a new certificate en route to the Ph.D. degree.

University of Washington Provost Ana Mari Cauce has allocated permanent funding to the eScience Institute to stimulate the hiring of faculty members who conduct cutting-edge research on methodologies for data-driven discovery, and whose teaching and outreach will put advanced tools and techniques into the hands of UW’s broad base of outstanding researchers.

The Provost's Initiative in Data-Driven Discovery is described in a concept document and an implementation document.

Faculty hired under the Initiative will be appointed in appropriate academic units, and will have partial teaching and outreach responsibilities to the eScience Institute, driving UW forward as a leader in developing and applying the techniques of data-driven discovery.

Recent hires by the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and the Department of Statistics, preceding the Initiative, exemplify the orientation and quality that UW seeks to expand: machine learning experts Emily Fox, Carlos Guestrin, and Ben Taskar, and data visualization expert Jeff Heer.


The University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have announced the creation of the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing, a joint institute based at the UW that will foster collaborative computing research between the two institutions.

"The expanded partnership between UW and PNNL will create tremendous new opportunities for both organizations,” said Ed Lazowska, professor of computer science and engineering. “Big data is transforming the process of discovery in all fields. UW and PNNL have significant and complementary strengths."

Read the UW press release here. Read the PNNL press release here.

A vast amount of scientific knowledge is inaccessible to the scientific community due to the lack of computational resources or tools for small laboratories to share or analyze experimental results. With a new grant from the National Science Foundation, the eScience Institute will collaborate with leading institutions to look for ways that software can bring this data out of hiding, revealing untapped value in the “long tail” of scientific research.

The two-year, $500,000 planning grant enables investigators at the Computation Institute (a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory), University of California, Los Angeles, University of Arizona, University of Washington and University of Southern California to lay the groundwork for a proposed Institute for Empowering Long Tail Research as part of the NSF’s Scientific Software Innovation Institutes program. Researchers will engage with scientists from fields such as biodiversity, economics and metagenomics to determine the optimal solutions for the increasingly challenging data and computational demands upon smaller laboratories.

Hyak, the University of Washington's high-performance computing facility, is featured in the most recent issue of Perspectives, the newsletter of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Read the full story here.