Spurred by the growth of big data, Purdue University is bolstering its computer science program with a 27 percent increase in undergraduate and graduate student enrollment capacity and additional support for strategic research programs.

"We have entered an age of big data, where every day massive amounts of digital data are produced that could provide valuable insights for science, agriculture, business and government," Sunil Prabhakar, a professor and head of the Department of Computer Science at the university, said in a statement.

"Without more computer scientists and greater advances in the tools we use to derive meaning from these massive data sets, economic development and research will slow dramatically,” Prabhakar said. Purdue's computer science program has an opportunity “to serve as a national model as we prepare more students to design and use technology that will inform policy and drive decision-making on the local, national and global levels," he said.

"The world is just starting to realize what statisticians and computer scientists have known for years — data is power," added Jennifer Neville, an associate professor of computer science and statistics at Purdue. "In the era of big data, where data is being collected at unprecedented rates, computer scientists have a unique set of abilities needed to harness this power. That is why their computational and engineering skills are, and will continue to be, in such high demand.”

This demand is even greater for students with training in data mining and machine learning, Neville said, since they can take an algorithmic approach to statistical modeling of data.

The initiative also includes plans to create special programs in the area of data science for several majors, including computer science.

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