Are we Big Data? Challenger lesson by Dr Miroslav Zivkonic
Posted 06/06/2019 12:24

Challenger students had yet another interesting and insightful visit by one Dr Miroslav Živković. Here is their reflection on this thought-provoking session.

Written by Marko and Filip (Y10)

Do you know what this photo is? It is the inside of one of Google's data centres which stores all the data produced by people using Google services. These data centres process so much data that they use near to 10% of all electricity in the United States. This is an example of Big Data.

Dr Miroslav Živković visited the Challenger Programme to teach us about what Big data is and how it affects us. I don't think a lot of students were very familiar with the concept of Big data and did not think of it as anything more than large amounts of data. But we learned that the use of big amounts of data has such a large effect on our everyday lives in many, many ways. This wasn't always like this because, over the past 30 years, we have developed this technology to an insane level.


20 years ago, a few megabytes was a lot of data to store. 10 years before that, even a whole megabyte was rare. Today, a normal computer can store over a million times that amount. Computers have taken over so many everyday tasks in the past 30 years and the capabilities are still expanding. Banking systems, calculators, databases and so much more. Things that took us hours to do can now be done in seconds. All of these things involve the input, output, and flow of data. Not only with computers, but everything we do can create some sort of data and that is why us, humans, are in the middle of all of it. 

Due to this, we have been able to start using the data we create to improve life for us and make things easier/more efficient. One example could be in stores such as IKEA. Based on which types of products people buy first and are most likely to buy, the store layout is created in a way where the products that people are most likely to buy will be first. It is also a matter of psychology, where for example the products that are on a shelf at eye level with the person are more likely to be bought than those at the bottom of the store shelf. 

Away from the business side of things, another example is what some NBA teams have started doing. Here is a link to a video explaining it --

In conclusion, Dr. Živković taught us that :"With respect to the sources that generate these data sets, we (people) are Big Data". 

Dr. Miroslav Živković is a Researcher at System and Network Engineering Group, Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam. He holds a PhD from Design and Analysis of Communication Systems group, University of Twente, the Netherlands, and a dipl.-ing title from Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade, Serbia. His current research interests are software defined networking and network performance of large data sets (Big Data).

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