Beginner's guide to the history of data science

Beginner’s guide to the history of data science

Beginner’s guide to the history of data science

This article was written by Hannah Augur. Hannah is a writer, editor and nerd based in Berlin. She's a researcher with knowledge and work in a variety of fields, including 3D printing, fantasy video games and even coffee manufacturing.

“Big data” and “data science” may be some of the bigger buzzwords this decade, but they aren’t necessarily new concepts. The idea of data science spans many different fields, and has been slowly making its way into the mainstream for over fifty years. In fact, many considered last year the fiftieth anniversary of its official introduction. While many proponents have taken up the stick, made new assertions and challenges, there are a few names and dates you need know.

1962. John Tukey writes “The Future of Data Analysis.” Published in The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, a major venue for statistical research, he brought the relationship between statistics and analysis into question. One famous quote has since struck a chord with modern data lovers:

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“For a long time I have thought I was a statistician, interested in inferences from the particular to the general. But as I have watched mathematical statistics evolve, I have had cause to wonder and to doubt…I have come to feel that my central interest is in data analysis, which I take to include, among other things: procedures for analyzing data, techniques for interpreting the results of such procedures, ways of planning the gathering of data to make its analysis easier, more precise or more accurate, and all the machinery and results of (mathematical) statistics which apply to analyzing data.”

1974. After Tukey, there is another important name that any data enthusiast should know: Peter Naur. He published the Concise Survey of Computer Methods, which surveyed data processing methods across a wide variety of applications.



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