Is “data science” an academic discipline? – Math with Bad Drawings


I will be short: No, it is not.

” Data Scientist,” you see, is a task title. An appealing title. A title that actually sparkles on a company card. A title for fascinating and cool work.

But not every task title has a matching scholastic discipline.

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Case in point: management consulting. Relatively half of my college schoolmates entered into this field. Their B.A.’s were in political science, French, mathematics, and so on. “Helping other companies with tactical choices” has no particular disciplinary custom, no distinct set of analytical tools, no distinct things of questions– in other words, there’s no “there” there.

Mastering a scholastic discipline, rather than finishing a professional degree, suggests ending up being a professional in some things of human interest: markets (economics), life (biology), literature (English), abstract argumentation (approach) or actually abstract argumentation (mathematics). The management expert is, by style, a generalist. A specialist in absolutely nothing.

Which brings us back to our initial concern. What is an information researcher a professional in?

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Data science’s know-how can not be the tools of information analysis. Those tools emerge from Statistics and Computer Science. For expert-level depth and rigor in comprehending such tools, you go to the makers, not the users.

Nor can information science claim know-how in the topics of information analysis. The information sets come from public health, marketing, supply chains, medication, baseball, financing, and so on. For subject-matter know-how, you ‘d go to topic specialists.

I’ve got absolutely nothing versus Data Science. My own M.S. remains in Data Analytics. There’s no rejecting it: the information researcher uses tools (in which they’re not specialist) to content locations (in which they’re not specialist). Intriguing work, however not a standalone scholastic discipline.

When I squint, I see a location of know-how waiting to be declared. Huge concerns hide– some presently housed in other departments, and some still waiting for acceptable responses– all orbiting around a standard style: what occurs when people utilize information to comprehend the world

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A very first batch of concerns may concentrate on how we turn the world into information; that is, the pledge and hazards of metrology.

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  1. The taste here is less hardcore STEM, and more “approach of social science.” What is information? What does it capture (and stop working to record) about our untidy truth? ( Import “Epistemology.”
  2. )
  3. What streamlined design of the world is embedded in any specific option of information? How do we examine these designs and unload their presumptions? What threats do we deal with from random mistake? ( Import “Statistics”.
  4. ) What threats do we deal with from the myriad kinds of non
  5. random mistake, from volunteer predisposition to survivorship predisposition to Goodhart’s Law? In what methods does event information alter truth, from moving rewards to increasing openness to Seeing Like a State
  6. – design bulldozing of intricacy? How do we collect helpful information? ( Import “Social Science Research Methods.”

) Then, a 2nd batch of concerns may concentrate on the numerous calculations we carry out with information

, from the basic to the advanced.

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  1. If anything is distinct about the information researcher’s technique here (and I’m not 100% sure anything is), possibly it’s the requirement to keep one eye on the truth from which the information emerged, and another on the human interpreters for which it is predestined.
  2. How do we tidy information without harming it?
  3. [this item reserved for all of the million models that data scientists should know about, i.e., 90% of data science as currently taught and practiced]
  4. [this item reserved for a special focus on neural networks, because in practice they supplant 999,997 of the million models mentioned above]
  5. What are the very best practices (and typical risks) in combining information sets?

We all understand “trash in, trash out.” How do we believe methodically about the significantly more typical scenario of “mainly great things, however with a little bit of trash odor” in? Simply put, how do mistakes propagate through information analysis? The last and 3rd batch of concerns issues the human analysis and understanding of information

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  1. ; that is, how information ends up being understanding. I grandiosely picture something similar to the CS location of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Call it “Human-Data Interaction,” if you like.
  2. How can information science’s numerous designs exist to laypeople? How does human vision work, and what ramifications does this have for the style of information visualizations? ( Import “Edward Tufte.”
  3. )
  4. How (in images and words) can we finest interact unpredictability and prospective mistake?
  5. What are the very best practices for producing interactive information visualizations? (When is interactivity helpful? When is it not?)

What are individuals vulnerable to miss out on when translating information? How do we call their attention to neglected functions, or trigger their interest?

These, possibly, are the seeds of Data Science as a Liberal Art.

Now, are these concerns abundant, particular, and meaningful enough? Or is the resulting “discipline” vulnerable to seem like a high-school-level collection of coding bootcamp and Philosophy 101? In other words: if Data Science finishes these labors, will it belong at the scholastic table?

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October 16, 2023(*)


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