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The main question driving my group's research is: how does one deploy statistical data-analysis tools to enhance data driven systems? Our goal is to find abstractions that one needs to deploy and maintain such systems. In this talk, I describe my group's attack on this question by building a diverse set of statistical-based data-driven applications: a system whose goal is to read the Web and answer complex questions, a muon detector in collaboration with a neutrino telescope called IceCube, and a social-science applications involving rich content (OCR and speech data). Even in this diverse set, my group has found common abstractions that we are exploiting to build and to maintain systems. Of particular relevance to this workshop is that I have heard of applications in each of these domains referred to as â€œbig data.â€ Nevertheless, in our experience in each of these tasks, after appropriate preprocessing, the relevant data can be stored in a few terabytes -- small enough to fit entirely in RAM or on a handful of disks. As a result, it is unclear to me that scale is the most pressing concern for academics. I argue that dealing with data at TB scale is still challenging, useful, and fun, and I will describe some of our work in this direction. This is joint work with Benjamin Recht, Stephen J. Wright, and the Hazy Team
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