A recently launched program by three universities aims to harness the potential of data scientists and big data. The multimillion dollar collaboration, which includes New York University, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Washington, is designed to spur collaborations within and across the three campuses and other partners pursuing similar data-intensive science goals.

The five-year, $37.8 million initiative, with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was announced at a meeting sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) focused on developing innovative partnerships to advance technologies that support advanced data management and data analytic techniques.

The partnership has three core goals. One is to develop sustained interactions and collaborations between researchers with backgrounds in specific subjects and in fields such as computer science, statistics and applied mathematics.

Another goal is to establish career paths “that are long-term and sustainable, using alternative metrics and reward structures to retain a new generation of scientists” whose research focuses on the multidisciplinary analysis of massive and complex scientific data and the development of the tools and techniques that enable this analysis.

And a third goal is to build on current academic and industrial efforts to work toward an ecosystem of analytical tools and research practices that is sustainable, reusable and easy to translate across research areas.

“With the onslaught of data, much of the knowledge in the world is going to be extracted by machines,” Yann LeCun, faculty lead at New York University, said in a statement. “Universities must find new ways to advance data science methodologies while facilitating the use of new methods and tools by researchers from every field. Universities also have an opportunity to train new generations of researchers in data driven science.”

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