Data Culture: HSE Will Teach All Its Students to Work with Data
HSE will launch a new project called Data Culture in September 2017. Starting their very first year, HSE bachelor’s students will learn to work with data, and students in a number of programmes will also become familiarised with methods of machine-learning and artificial intelligence.
Why Study Data Science
The development of computer technologies, methods for collecting and processing information, and the accumulation of what we now call ‘big data’ – these are things that affect all areas of activity. It has become clear that many professions have changed entirely, and it is now necessary for every educated person – that is, not just IT specialists – to be skilled in working with different types of information.
‘Whereas before we were able to talk about how computer scientists and IT specialists were separate from historians, philosophers, and other specialists in the humanities, now the professional activities of both groups are closely intertwined. This is because the texts with which those in the humanities work are also considered big data and can be processed the same way – that is, with the help of contemporary analytical and information-focused methods. This fundamentally changes the essence of the profession,’ HSE Vice-Rector Sergey Roshchin says.
For this reason, it is necessary to teach students in all fields to understand the capabilities and limitations of big data, as well as the potential and specifics of machine learning. In addition, students in fields such as economics, management, sociology, political science, etc., must be able to use the corresponding technology.
Background: How and Whom HSE Teaches to Work with Data
HSE teaches students in different faculties how to work with information and data; this includes the Faculty of Computer Science, MIEM, and also various business informatics programmes in the Faculty of Business and Management. Over the last several years, the percentage of HSE master’s programmes aimed at preparing specialists who work with data has only grown. For example, in 2014 the Data Science and Mathematical Methods for Modelling and Computer Technologies programmes opened, while the Data Analysis in Biology and Medicine programme began in 2016, and the Financial Technology and Data Analysis and Statistical Learning Theory programmes was established in 2017. And this is far from the entire range of programmes HSE offers.
The Intellectual Data Analysis minor, which has become one of the most popular undergraduate minors at the university, was launched in 2015 for all undergraduate programmes. Despite its difficulty, students from practically all majors select the minor – from philology students to students of mathematics. This means that not only professionals, but students as well are starting to see why it is necessary to acquire the skills needed to work with data in all subject areas, and this includes big data.
‘Students will be offered courses of varying levels of complexity, as students in various undergraduate programmes have a different amount of training in mathematics and informatics due to external factors…’
‘The Intellectual Data Analysis minor has allowed us to become acquainted with students from different programmes and focus on what the students expect of us and what they need in their specific fields of study,’ notes Faculty of Computer Science Dean Ivan Arzhantsev. The success of this minor has demonstrated the need to create lines of courses on data skills, including those focused on certain subjects and those that give rise to practical data analysis coursework.
As a response to this demand, a mini-minor became available to students in January 2017 on Contemporary Methods in the Humanities. The minor introduces students to new research methods and problems in history, literary studies, linguistics, and cultural studies as concerns computer text processing methods. The Data Culture project further allows students to master the skills and culture surrounding data.
About the Data Culture Project
Over the next two years, HSE will create a system of disciplines that give students competencies in working with data and contemporary information technology.
‘The project largely extends to majors that previously did not focus on, or focused too little on, this kind of information,’ comments HSE Vice-President Igor Agamirzyan. ‘It goes without saying that fields in one way or another related to data already have such courses, but these classes can be strengthened, and advanced variable tracks can be offered. In addition, it is necessary provide basic skills in working with data to students for whom data and information sciences are a prerequisite for future activities, even if they do not relate to computer sciences, information technology, and electronics.’
Students will be offered courses of varying levels of complexity, as students in various undergraduate programmes have a different amount of training in mathematics and informatics due to external factors.
The basic level does not presume a deeper knowledge of mathematics and is aimed at programmes that are not at all maths-focused. ‘But students will still have to work hard because it’s certainly impossible to master contemporary data analysis methods without effort,’ Ivan Arzhantsev adds. And a higher, expert level of knowledge is meant for those who are going to solve nonstandard problems and develop new data analysis methods.
The implementation Data Culture disciplines will take place in stages. In the 2017-2018 academic year, data courses will be included in the academic plans of more than half of all bachelor’s programmes. Humanities, law, and design students, for example, will now be offered an introductory course on digital literacy, while economics students will have a course on machine learning. Starting in 2018, all remaining educational programmes will join the project.
A Learning Revolution
The Data Culture project can be considered revolutionary, as no other Russian university currently has a programme similar in size to Data Culture. There are certainly courses on data science, but only in certain programmes and not as a basic competency for all majors. Leading Western universities have been developing courses related to data analysis, but such development is not yet taking place on a large scale. ‘The thing is not to ‘be the first,’ Sergey Roshchin explains. ‘The goal is for our university, as well as other schools, to conform to the current level of contemporary technological development and to instil advanced competencies in students and graduates.’
According to Igor Agamirzian, the field of data science has been developing for nearly 25 years already, but large-scale instruction in data science has not yet taken place. HSE plans to change this. ‘At some point, in the mid-1980s, an entire programme called Programming: The Second Literacy was launched to teach schoolchildren about information technology and programming. So in the contemporary world, the second, and by now even the first, literacy is becoming not only programming, but the entire range of knowledge related to information, data, and searching – that is, the possibilities that information technology offers. Now it is not programming, but the culture of working with information that has become the second literacy,’ Igor Agamirzian concludes.
First Graduates Complete Double-degree Master’s Programme in Big Data Systems and Information Systems Management
On June 27, 2016, the first graduation ceremony for the double-degree Master’s programme in Big Data Systems and Information Systems Management was held at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. The ceremony marks three years of successful collaboration between HSE and University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien.
The Master’s programme in Big Data Systems at the Higher School of Economics focuses on the value aspect of big data for large enterprises and the implementation of big data technology in enterprises. Two current students of the programme share their thoughts about what drew them to HSE to study big data, what they hope to gain from the programme and what advice they would give to prospective international students.
In March 2016, the School of Business Informatics (Faculty of Business and Management) at HSE was visited by a delegation from France’s University of Évry; in late 2015, a student exchange agreement was signed between HSE and this university. The delegation brought 19 students from the Master’s programmes in the field of big data at the University of Évry to Moscow.
Student from Big Data Systems Master’s Programme Takes Part in IBM’s Best Student Recognition Event 2015
IBM held its annual forum, the Best Student Recognition Event, in Amsterdam on July 8-10, 2015. The IBM Corporation has been carrying out the event since 2008, bringing together some of the best students in Europe. Around 70 students attended this year’s event, including HSE student Dmitry Shostko, who studies Business Informatics in the Big Data Systems Master’s Programme. Dmitry was rated one of the top-10 students for the second semester.
‘The University of Passau is the youngest HEI in Bavaria but has earnt itself a good reputation since it opened in 1978,’ says Svetlana Maltseva, Academic Supervisor of the Master’s programme in Big Data Systems. ‘For more than ten years the university has occupied a leading position in German and European rankings in Law, Management and International Relations.’
What influence does big data have on today’s world? What is a ‘data scientist’ and what skills does one need? Those were the subjects of a lecture at HSE by HSE honorary professor Will van der Aalst, from Eindhoven Technical University (Netherlands).
HSE and Yandex have opened a laboratory for methods of Big Data analysis at the HSE Computer Science Faculty (LAMBDA). The purpose of the new academic research lab is to create a world-class research centre to solve fundamental issues in computer science and develop methods for processing and analysing Big Data.
The Second International Conference on Information Technology and Quantitative Management (ITQM 2014) took place on June 3-5, drawing 120 professionals from 29 countries to consider issues of model performance and decision-making algorithms when processing large amounts of data.
Over the course of 20 years, since the beginning of contemporary medicine’s transition into a digital format, a vast amount of largely unused data has amassed. The analysis of these data and the extraction of a new logic of control from them is one of the most popular areas of focus in applied mathematics, Oleg Pianykh, Professor in HSE’s Department of Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, said in a report. His report, 'Big Data in Medicine: How to Make them Work,' was presented at HSE’s academic seminar 'Mathematical Models of Information Technologies.'
This year, the HSE Faculty of Business Informatics is launching an English-language master's programme in Big Data Systems. Scholarships are available, particularly for selected applicants who participate in the Olympiad, a competition that is open to students and graduates of university undergraduate and specialist courses from throughout Russia, the CIS, and the Baltic countries. The registration deadline for the Olympiad is March 12, 2014.