Join Barton Poulson for an in-depth discussion in this video Volume, part of Techniques and Concepts of Big Data.
In its simplest possible definition, big data is data that's just too big to work on your computer. Obviously this is a relative definition. What's big for one system at one time is common place for another system at another time. That's the general point of Moore's Law, a well known observation in computer science that physical capacity and performance of computers double about every two years. So for example, my Mac Classic two, which got me through graduate school, had two megabytes of ram and an 80 megabyte hard drive and so as far as it was concerned, big data is something that would fit onto a one dollar flash drive right now.
On the other hand, in Excel the maximum number of rows that you could have in a single spreadsheet has changed over time. Previously it was 65,000. Now it's over a million, which seems like a lot, but if you're logging internet activity where something can occur hundreds or thousands of times per second, you'll reach your million rows very, very quickly. On the other hand, if you're looking at photos or video and you need to have all of the information in memory at once, you have an entirely different issue.
Even my iPhone takes photos at two or three megabytes per photo and video at about 18 megabytes per minute, or one gigabyte per hour. That's on my iPhone. And if you have a Red Epic video camera you could do up to 18 gigabytes per minute. And instantly you have very big data. Now, some people call this lots of data, meaning it's the same idea of the data that we're generally used to, there's just a lot more of it. And that gets into the issues of velocity and variety.
We'll talk about velocity next.
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- What makes big data "big"
- Understanding how big data impacts consumers, businesses, and research
- Exploring the intersection of data science and big data
- Facing big data's ethical challenges
- Understanding the sources and structures of big data
- Storing big data
- Prepping big data for analysis