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Course Spotlight: Statistical Thinking and Big Data

As you’ve seen in our previous blog posts, statistics has many applications in many different fields. We’ve already discussed the kinds of careers that graduates of NC State Statistics programs can enjoy and this month we’re taking a look at one of the courses that specifically prepares students for success in the real world: Statistical Thinking and Big Data (ST564).

ST564: Statistical Thinking and Big Data

NC State Statistics online students have a range of courses to choose from, whether you’re pursuing a graduate certificate or degree or just looking to gain some more insight into the interesting field of statistics. One of these courses is Statistical Thinking and Big Data (ST564). In this course, students learn how to analyze large quantities of observational data set. Topics covered include:

  • Sampling design
  • Basics of estimation and inference
  • Scaling statistical algorithms to large data sets or streaming data
  • Dealing with complex data structures

The course dives into the world of internet data, a quickly evolving field with great demand for statisticians who can sort, classify, analyze, and compute big data.

Big Data Made Manageable

“Big data” is the term used for all the consumer or user data generated through online or mobile application use. This data is becoming increasingly important in seeing patterns and trends and predicting future economic and social behavior. Big Data is used by marketing companies to find the best ways to market to consumers. Remember that case of Target’s “pregnancy prediction” score being a little too insightful? That was big data.

Big data — and the analysis of it by skilled statisticians — reaches far beyond just marketing, though. It’s also used in healthcare to improve public health and track trends in diseases and treatments. There are many articles, one such being this one from Harvard Business Review, that highlight how understanding trends can help you make wiser health care decisions. This kind of data analysis is even used in law enforcement and security, when tracking and preventing cyber attacks or the movements of wanted suspects or terrorists. Big Data algorithms are also used in the financial sector to make trading decisions which use data from everything from market and consumer behavior to social media trends to make by-the-second buying and selling determinations.

Why Learn Big Data at NC State?

Taught by associate professor Dr. Eric Laber, ST564 gives students the knowledge and skill sets required to be accurate and critical in managing large quantities of information. Not only are the computational methods taught, but Dr. Eric Laber also emphasizes the critical thinking skills which help form strategy and action plans in response to data.

In his research, Dr. Laber focuses on dynamic treatment regimes, which encourages the creation of practical methodology for data-driven decision making. It’s his background and understanding of this type of statistical computation that helps NC State students discover the many applications of statistics in the real world.

Get Started

Learn more about the range of Statistics online courses available through NC State here. Ready to enroll in ST564? Learn more about enrolling as a non-degree studies (NDS) student or applying for a graduate program here.

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