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Big Data: A Very Short Introduction

Dawn E. Holmes
Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Robert W. Hayden
, on

This wee volume is one in a series of roughly 500 such Very Short Introductions on topics ranging from adolescence to Zionism. This one is about four and a half by seven inches and about a quarter inch thick. It contains more than one might think due to small type, thin paper, and narrow margins, but it is still a short book.

We begin with a brief introduction, followed by a chapter on the very important topic of why big data in not just lots of small data. Then there are two less successful chapters on the methods used with big data. Here the general reader may feel they are learning far more technical detail than they need, while someone who works with big data may find it overly simplified.

Then there are chapters on how big data is used in business and in medicine. Here we return to topics to which the general reader can relate. Finally there are chapters on data security and the role of big data in society.

While there are better introductions to the subject, they are not a quarter inch thick!

After a few years in industry, Robert W. Hayden ( taught mathematics at colleges and universities for 32 years and statistics for 20 years. In 2005 he retired from full-time classroom work. He contributed the chapter on evaluating introductory statistics textbooks to the MAA’s Teaching Statistics.

1. The data explosion
2. Why is big data special?
3. Storing big data
4. Big data analysis
5. Big data and medicine
6. Big data, big business
7. Big data security and the Snowden case
8. The internet of things
Byte size chart
Further Reading