New Data Science Course

The Simpson College Mathematics Department is excited to offer a new special topics course called Data Science during the Spring 2015 semester.  The class will be taught by Dr. Bill Schellhorn, who recently spent his sabbatical leave studying topics in the field.

What is data science?  Data science is the study of the extraction of knowledge from data.  In practice, it involves learning from data in order to gain insight and make useful predictions.  Knowledge in the field is increasingly important for Mathematics and Actuarial Science majors.

Why is data science important?  Data is being generated faster than it can be analyzed.  Many of the current challenges in science, government, industry, economics, marketing, and sports are “big data” problems.  Some examples include:

  • the Large Hadron Collider experiments;
  • the Sloan Digital Sky Survey;
  • the human genome project;
  • surveillance data collected by the National Security Agency;
  • social network data collected by Facebook;
  • marketing data collected by Amazon and NetFlix;
  • statistics from professional sports leagues.

What topics will be covered in the Math 390 Data Science course?  The course will introduce methods used in data science, including techniques in data collection, data management, exploratory data analysis, prediction, and communication of results.  Real-world examples will be used to illustrate the methods presented.  The analyses and methods will be implemented in a statistical software package (either R or JMP).

What are the prerequisites for the course?  Math 152 Calculus II and CmSc 150 Introduction to Programming.

For more information:  Contact Dr. Bill Schellhorn.

Image by Calvin.Andrus (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons