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KEY, SFU's Big Data Initiative and SFU Library Co-Host First Data Love-In

On May 18, the Data Love-In was hosted in SFU’s Big Data Hub to celebrate all things data.

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Activities started off with the Fundamentals of Research Data Management Planning Workshop, introducing participants to elements of data management planning — from data collection to data storage and back up, to ethical considerations around data sharing. Using case studies, workshop attendees then applied what they learned to create data management plans (DMPs) with DMP Assistant, an online data management tool.

A second workshop followed called, “Cleaning Data with R.” In everyday life, data is often messy, consisting of missing values or containing too much information. In some cases, data must be transformed before performing statistical tests. However, directly manipulating our original data files is dangerous because we risk corrupting the information we’ve gathered by accidentally deleting the wrong columns or applying incorrect filters. Instead of taking this risk, the workshop taught students how to use R to fix data before analysis without changing their original data files. Some of the topics included importing and exporting data, interpreting data setting data, merging datasets, and finding and replacing values.

The R workshop consisted of an informative presentation and follow-along example in which the instructor and students applied data-cleaning techniques to a real data set. During the live-programing tutorial, students were shown some of the most common mistakes that can occur when cleaning data with R, such as converting between factor and numeric data structures. At completion of the workshop, participants were set up for success and provided with a fully annotated script to help guide them through their own research.

DISCUSSING DATA MANAGEMENT (L-R): DHAVIDE ARULIAH, SENIOR COMPUTATIONAL SCIENTIST AT CONTINUUM ANALYTICS, INC., PETER HALL, SFU PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF THE GRADUATE URBAN STUDIES PROGRAM, KAREN KAVANAGH, SFU PROFESSOR IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS, PETER CHOW-WHITE, SFU PROFESSOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIRECTOR OF GeNA LAB, DUGAN O’NEIL, SFU PHYSICS PROFESSOR AND CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER OF COMPUTE CANADA.

The afternoon session of the Data Love-In began with a presentation by SFU alumnus and Senior Computational Scientist with Continuum Analytics Inc., Dhavide Aruliah on why data is prevalent in our world today. Aruliah presented a brief history on the beginnings of data and computing science dating back to the Second World War. He concluded his talk by sharing some very useful web applications and open source tools, such as the Jupyter Notebook.  

Afterwards, an SFU faculty panel discussion was initiated between Dhavide Aruliah, urban studies professor Peter Hall, physics professor Karen Kavanagh, communications professor Peter Chow-White and physics professor Dugan O’Neil. These big data experts engaged the audience on issues in data management, storage and access.

SFU librarian for data services and government information, Carla Graebner and KEY’s Business Development Consultant, Jean-Sebastien Mercier concluded the event with a description of the available services in the SFU Library and the Hub to support students, faculty and staff with their data questions.

We were thrilled about the interest and turnout this year and look forward to the next Data-Love In.

About KEY, SFU's Big Data Initiative

From genomics to criminology, from physics to healthcare, KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative seeks to spark new collaborations that combine big questions and big ideas with data-intensive discovery.

SFU is building on a decade of leadership in the field of big data, investing in advanced research computing to accelerate scholarship and innovation by bringing new data tools and resources to all members of our campus community. We are investing in the growth of data-intensive research across all eight Faculties to raise awareness of big data in every field of study and mobilize knowledge for real world impact. Our academic programs and strategic partnerships harness the power of big data to contribute to a competitive economy and the development of skills and expertise in our work force.

Connect with us to learn how we can help you unlock the potential of big data.