Data science is the scholarly discipline that focuses on how to connect data to decisions. This involves the nuances of collecting, managing, analyzing, visualizing, and reporting data for use in decision-making. From public policy to scientific exploration or managerial action, a spectrum of skills and knowledge is needed to convert data to relevant information. All of these skills involve computer programming and computational and analytical thinking.
There is a strong connection between data science and computational science. If data are to inform decisions or answer questions, the nature of the data to be collected, and the feasibility of collecting it must be carefully thought through and analyzed. The collection of relevant data for a project then requires computational skills in web scraping, database creation and navigation, and data cleaning. The computational data science program helps students develop the the skills necessary to identify, generate or track down, store and manage informative data from varied sources.
Making conclusive decisions using data requires the skills necessary to do appropriate analyses, nearly all of which would be done in a computing environment. While Hamline’s undergraduate curriculum teaches and uses several tools for this, the computational data science program augments that curriculum with broader and more computationally oriented tools and skills for data analysis.
Communicating data-driven decisions requires thorough, useful, and accurate visualizations which are also created in a computing environment with access to the data. We focus on data visualization in our current curriculum in many ways including student poster presentations in the natural and social sciences, business analytics presentations in HSB, and student art installations in the Digital Media Arts program. The computational data science program gives students stronger skills and deeper experiences with this approach, often using data developed in collaborating programs.
Arthur Guetter, professor, chair. BA 1981, Macalester College; MA 1983, PhD 1987, Northwestern University. Major interests: boundary value problems, differential equations.