Data Science Initiative FAQ

What is Data Science?

There are many definitions. But the broad, common answer is all of the activities involved in working with data: identifying, acquiring and accessing, transforming and manipulating, exploring, visualizing, modeling, summarizing data and making inferences from the data and making decisions based on these. It also involves data engineering, reproducibility, provenance and data governance and ethics. The entire process typically involves computing, statistics, visualization and domain knowledge.

What is the DSI?

The Data Science Initiative (DSI) is a campus-wide activity that aims to foster, promote and facilitate "data science" and "big data" across all disciplines in both research and education. The goal is to help make qualitatively new research possible, accelerate data-driven exploration, and help train a new type of researcher that is skilled in working with data at all stages of the analysis pipeline.


  • engage in collaborative research projects,
  • provide consulting for others,
  • offer training in intermediate and advanced topics,
  • foster a transdisciplinary data science community,
  • organize reading groups, talks, seminars, colloquia, symposia
  • are developing academic courses, programs, degrees and certificates.

Does the DSI offer courses?

We offer workshops, tutorials, seminars, mini-courses, etc. We are also in the process of developing regular academic courses and degree/certificate programs. We want your suggestions for workshop topics. Sign into your email account, and add yours

Does the DSI help graduate students with their research?

Certainly. We have a core service of advisors/consultants that can help with accessing, managing, analyzing and visualizing data. We want to make new things possible in different fields, and facilitate people getting started working with data and technologies. We have office hours held by the directors and DSI affiliates. And we encourage people to email us to find out when we are available and schedule an appointment.

Do we have to pay for consulting?

No - The current model means it is free!

Is the DSI interested in collaborations?

Absolutely! A major part of our mission is work with researchers and help to provide important skills that enable their work to advance and to foster authentic collaboration, more than just consulting. See our models for collaborations.

Where is the DSI located?

On the third floor of the Shields library.

Who is involved with the DSI?

We have both student and faculty affiliates. Others participate in workshops, talks, and other events.

What facilities are in the DSI space?

There is a classroom with projectors for workshops and seminars (room 360). There are several conference rooms for consultation services with wide screen TVs for pair programming. There is also a big work space for our DSI affiliates to collaborate and work in. The lab space has multiple white boards for sketching out ideas, many big computer monitors for affiliates to use, not to mention big TVs for broadcasting screenshots and webinars.

How do we find out about upcoming events?

The two best places are this Web site and the datascience mailing list. You can sign up for emails: