In the life sciences, data can come in many forms, including information about genomic sequences, molecular pathways, and different populations of people. Those data create a potential bonanza, if scientists can overcome one stumbling block: how to handle the complexity of information. Tools and techniques for analyzing big data promise to mold massive mounds of information into a better understanding of the basic biological mechanisms and how the results can be applied in, for example, health care.
“Big data” is one of today’s hottest concepts, but it can be misleading. The name itself suggests mountains of data, but that’s just the start. Overall, big data consists of three v’s: volume of data, velocity of processing the data, and variability of data sources. These are the key features of information that require big-data tools.