Contributor: Kirk Borne

MapR Converge Blog author, Kirk Borne

Dr. Kirk Borne is a Principal Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton. Previously he was a Professor of Astrophysics and Computational Science in the George Mason University School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences. He was at Mason from 2003 to 2015, where he taught and advised students in the graduate and undergraduate Computational Science, Informatics, and Data Science programs. Before Mason, he spent nearly 20 years in positions supporting NASA projects, including an assignment as NASA's Data Archive Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, and as Project Manager in NASA's Space Science Data Operations Office. He has extensive experience in big data and data science, including expertise in scientific data mining and data systems. He has published over 200 articles (research papers, conference papers, and book chapters), and given over 200 invited talks at conferences and universities worldwide. In these roles, he focuses on achieving big discoveries from big data through data science, and he promotes the use of information and data-centric experiences with big data in the STEM education pipeline at all levels. He believes in data literacy for all! Learn more about him at You can follow him on Google+ here and on Twitter at @KirkDBorne, where he has been identified as one of the social network’s top big data influencers.

Blog Posts by Kirk Borne

August 17, 2017 | By Kirk Borne

Safe Driving in the Self-Driving Enterprise

The explosion of interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Machine Intelligence (MI) has triggered the design and development of all sorts of autonomous systems, including digital marketing & ad campaigns, self-driving cars...

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July 26, 2017 | By Kirk Borne

Machine Learning Making Big Moves in Marketing

Machine Learning is (or should be) a core component of any marketing program now, especially in digital marketing campaigns. The following insightful quote by Dan Olley (EVP of Product Development and CTO at Elsevier) sums up the urgency and criticality...

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October 11, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

KISS: The 288 View of Your Customer

Much has been written about the power of big data collections to enable the 360 view of our customers, our business, our employees, and our processes. When our numerous disparate heterogeneous data collections are aggregated and joined in the data lake...

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October 03, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

Fall Classic: Emerging Data Technologies Tackle the Smart City Air Quality Challenge

One of the most significant characteristics of the evolving digital age is the convergence of technologies. That includes information management (structured and unstructured databases: e.g., NoSQL), data collection (big data), data storage (cloud and...

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June 14, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

Data-Driven Leadership: Is there any other choice?

(The following article includes Kirk’s Foreword to the 2016 book “Data-driven Leaders Always Win” by Jay Zaidi.) In the beginning was data. How do we know this? Because many (if not all) creation stories from all cultures were essentially developed as...

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March 02, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

Cognitive Analytics Answers the Question: What's Interesting in Your Data?

Dimensionality reduction is a critical component of any solution dealing with massive data collections. Being able to sift through a mountain of data efficiently in order to find the key descriptive, predictive and explanatory features of the collection...

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January 22, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

Data Science: Do the Numbers - Part 1

As a lifelong computational scientist (and now data scientist) I have always been fascinated with numbers, especially lists and tables of things (= databases!). For example, I thought early in life that I wanted to be a Math major in college and study...

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January 18, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

How IoT Big Data is Going to the Dogs

Send Your Data Streams to the “Dogs” The Internet of Things (IoT), with its ubiquitous sensors and streams of big data for big insights, has an estimated market valuation of $1.7 trillion. Apparently, the "sensoring" of the world is a seriously...

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January 11, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

The Lord of the Things: Spark or Hadoop?

Are people in your data analytics organization contemplating the impending data avalanche from the internet of things and thus asking this question: “Spark or Hadoop?” That’s the wrong question! The internet of things (IOT) will generate massive quantities...

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January 06, 2016 | By Kirk Borne

Qualitative Data: The Context that Gives Meaning to Your Big Data

Someone once said “if you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.” Another version of this belief says: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.” This is a false way of thinking – a fallacy – in fact it is sometimes called the McNamara fallacy...

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July 27, 2015 | By Kirk Borne

Mining the Big Data Wheel

Big data flows from all channels in the modern technological world: social, mobile, networks, sales, machines, sensors, markets, etc. In fact, big data flows so abundantly that we choose water-themed metaphors to describe it: data lake, data flood, data...

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July 23, 2015 | By Kirk Borne

The Rise of Enterprise Analytics and The Analytics of Things

Big Data is a big deal in all enterprises everywhere. It is also big concept. In other words, big data is not only about rapidly increasing data volumes. There is also a rapid increase in data-driven business culture, applications, and use cases. As these...

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June 12, 2015 | By Kirk Borne

The Definitive Q&A for Aspiring Data Scientists

I was recently asked five questions by Alex Woodie of Datanami for the article, “So You Want To Be A Data Scientist” that he was preparing. He used a few snippets from my full set of answers. The longer version of my answers provided additional advice...

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April 30, 2015 | By Kirk Borne

4 Reasons to Look Further Than an Accurate Answer to Your Analytics Question

When we were in school and we were given a problem to solve, we usually stopped working on the problem as soon as we found the answer and we recorded that answer on our paper. This might be a fair approach for elementary school assignments, but that approach...

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April 28, 2015 | By Kirk Borne

A Growth Hacker's Journey – At the right place at the right time

When I was in high school in the 1970's, I discovered that some of my cleverer math classmates were skipping lunch. No, they were not skipping school. But they were spending time in a small office next to the math classroom. What were they doing that...

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April 14, 2015 | By Kirk Borne

Drive Innovation by Breaking Down Data Silos with Apache Drill

Data across the enterprise are typically stored in silos belonging to different business divisions and even to different projects within the same division. These silos may be further segmented by services/products and functions. Silos (which stifle data...

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November 10, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Potent Trio: Big Data, Hadoop, and Finance Analytics

Big data is a universal phenomenon. Every business sector and aspect of society is being touched by the expanding flood of information from sensors, social networks, and streaming data sources. The financial sector is riding this wave as well. We examine...

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October 21, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

When Big Data Goes Local, Small Data Gets Big - Part 2

We examined the value and utility of small data in Part 1 of this blog series. In that article, we defined “small” in terms of a localized subset of the whole big data collection, and we discussed several approaches and benefits of doing this. In an earlier...

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October 20, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

When Big Data Goes Local, Small Data Gets Big - Part 1

This is the first installment of a two-part series on the value of doing small data analyses on a big data collection. In this first article, we describe the applications and benefits of “small data” in general terms from several different perspectives...

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October 02, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

N is for Novelty Detection and News on a Few of My Favorite Data Science Things

A while back, we made a list from A to Z of a few of our favorite things in big data and data science. We have made a lot of progress toward covering several of these topics. Here’s a handy list of these write-ups (as well as an added bonus on one of...

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September 23, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Machine Unlearning: The Value of Imperfect Models

A project manager once told me that “any job worth doing is worth doing poorly.” I understood exactly what she meant, and she knew that I would understand, especially when she preceded our conversation with these words: “I wouldn’t say this to everyone...

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August 06, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

14 Benefits and Forces That Are Driving The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) will be huge in several ways. The forces that are driving it and the benefits that are motivating it are increasingly numerous, as more and more organizations, industries, and technologists catch the IoT bug. The number of...

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July 28, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Operational Analytics and Droning About Big Data

When I worked at NASA, about a dozen years ago, NASA issued a request for concept papers describing potential new technologies to support future manned missions to the Moon (and beyond). By that time in my career, I was beginning to see everything through...

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July 23, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Public Safety Analytics: An Interview with Predictive Analytics Pioneer Colleen McCue – Part 2

In this article we continue our interview with predictive analytics pioneer Colleen McCue. Part 1 appeared in our prior post. 5) Colleen, you wrote an article on advanced analytics for predictive policing in 2009. Tell us about that, and how have things...

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July 15, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Public Safety Analytics – An Interview with Predictive Analytics Pioneer Colleen McCue

The two topics Predictive Analytics and Big Data often appear together in discussions and blogs. This is not surprising when one considers that one of the great differences between traditional data warehousing and the new big data era is the outcome that...

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July 10, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Raising the Standard in the Big Data Analytics Profession

The sign of maturity of most technologies is the appearance of standards. Standards are used to enable, to promote, to measure, and perhaps to govern the use of that technology across a wide spectrum of communities. Standardization increases independent...

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July 03, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

The Big Data Train’s Next BIG Destination – Cognitive Analytics

The advancement of analytics has paralleled the advancement of big data in many BIG (Business, Industry, Government) sectors! Both analytics and big data are on unstoppable trajectories right now – moving toward destinations that are beyond the greatest...

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June 17, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

3 Ways That Big Data Are Used to Study Climate Change – Monitoring, Modeling, and Assimilation

In May of this year, the UN kicked off a new initiative on climate change – the Big Data Climate Challenge. This initiative is associated with the UN Secretary-General’s 2014 Climate Summit. One of the primary aims of the challenge is to use big data...

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June 12, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Four Examples of Characterizations for Discovery from Big Data

We previously discussed the “Top 8 Reasons that Characterization is Right for Your Data.” Here we move the discussion of characterization from the theoretical to the practical, by providing four simple examples of characterizations of data. In each of...

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June 01, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

The Big C of Big Data: Top 8 Reasons that Characterization is ‘ROIght’ for Your Data

The game of Monopoly has been popular for over 100 years, which is perhaps due to the game's features that seem to parallel real life: strategizing and making deals in order to accumulate benefits from the aggregate of many moves and decisions along...

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May 23, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Taking Big Data to the Next Level

I attended the Leverage Big Data 2014 Summit recently, sponsored by Tabor Communications (whose brands include Datanami, EnterpriseTech, and HPCWire) and run by nGage Events. One of the keynote talks was presented by Colin Dover of SAP. The subtitle...

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May 16, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Big Data is Everything, Quantified and Tracked: What this Means for You

What is big data? There are various definitions, nearly all of which focus appropriately on the concept of “big data”, and not on the data itself, whose volume is undeniably quite BIG and thus not particularly informative as a defining characteristic...

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May 08, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Big Data - What Is It Good For?

This question invariably comes up during big data discussions – ‘What is big data good for?’ Those who are close to the subject can quickly identify numerous examples of how big data can be used for the greater good, including some that are listed here:...

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May 02, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Slicing and Dicing Big Data Science in the Academic Universe

Reflecting on the numerous applications and use cases of Big Data in the world, we see that there is essentially no domain of human endeavor that is untouched by the data analytics revolution. Consequently, no business function can be isolated from data...

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April 28, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Association Rule Mining – Not Your Typical Data Science Algorithm

Many machine learning algorithms that are used for data mining and data science work with numeric data. And many algorithms tend to be very mathematical (such as Support Vector Machines, which we previously discussed). But, association rule mining is...

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April 22, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

H Is for Hadoop, along with a Huge Heap of Helpful Big Data Capabilities

A while back, I presented a Big Data Glossary: A to ZZ. In separate articles, I discussed some of the different entries in the glossary: K (K-anything in Data Mining) in “The K’s of Data Mining – Great Things Come in Pairs” P (Profiling) in “Data Profiling...

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April 11, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Top 10 Big Data Challenges – A Serious Look at 10 Big Data V’s

About 13 years ago, Doug Laney of the META Group (now Gartner) wrote an amazing report that showed both great insight and great foresight. The paper’s title was “3D Data Management: Controlling Data Volume, Velocity, and Variety.” The 3 V’s of big data...

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April 03, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Big Data and Hadoop for Competitive Advantage – 5 Sources of Insights and Opportunities

The explosive growth in data and in big data technologies (that process and transform the data into knowledge) corresponds to a new industrial revolution. The raw materials and the machinery are different from past revolutions, but the fundamental features...

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March 27, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

The K’s of Data Mining – Great Things Come in Pairs

In a previous post, I presented a “Big Data A to Z Glossary of my Favorite Data Science Things”. I would like to focus here on one of those favorite things, which also happens to be the entry associated with my favorite letter. When I learned to read...

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March 21, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Big Data A to ZZ – A Glossary of my Favorite Data Science Things

Nearly 50 years ago, one of the most popular musical movies of all time was released (“The Sound of Music”). Perhaps the most memorable song from that production is “My Favorite Things”. A remake of the production was shown on live television in December...

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March 13, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

The Importance of Location in Real Estate, Weather, and Machine Learning

Real estate experts like to say that the three most important features of a property are: location, location, location! Likewise, weather events are highly location-dependent. We will see below how a similar perspective is also applicable to machine...

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March 07, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

A Serving of Big Data, Family Style

I am not sure about other data scientists’ experiences in trying to explain Big Data and Data Science to family members, but I find that there is a lot of interest coupled with a lot of confusion. That’s not too surprising since there are many experts...

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February 27, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Personalization – It’s Not Just for Hamburgers Anymore

Many years ago (don’t ask me how I know this!) the hamburger chain Burger King began branding themselves with this slogan: “Have it your way!” It was pure marketing genius! The idea that you could order something, in this case a hamburger, at a fast...

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February 20, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Design Patterns for Recommendation Systems – Everyone Wants a Pony

Ted Dunning (Chief Application Architect at MapR) and Ellen Friedman have written a new O’Reilly Media book on _“Practical Machine Learning – Innovations in Recommendation" _(released in January 2014). This book examines one of the most interesting...

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February 13, 2014 | By Kirk Borne

Leadership Analytics – Big Data Project Performance Goes Scientific

In the brave new world of business analytics fueled by big data, there has been significant discussion about the evolving roles of C-suite executives, including the CEO, CTO, and CIO. That discussion is now expanding to include the CMO (Chief Marketing...

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