Data Science is an emerging interdisciplinary field whose goal is to extract knowledge and enable discovery from complex data using a fusion of computation, mathematics, statistics, and machine learning. Datasets can be as varied as maps of the universe, MRI images, human genomes, medical records, stock market transactions, educational data, historical texts, infrastructure systems, or website clickstream data. Over the coming decades, Data Science is expected to have significant impacts on basic and applied research in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and engineering as well as impact all sectors of the economy from health care to education, government, transportation, finance, manufacturing, construction, and urban planning. Data Science has the potential to improve individual and community health and education; develop smart communities that enable efficient circulation of people, goods, and services; enable informed decision making in public and private sectors; and enhance environmental sustainability and overall quality of life. Given the wide range of applications and potential benefits, the powerful tools and techniques of Data Science must be used ethically and responsibly.
The faculty at Vanderbilt have created a unique trans-institutional undergraduate minor in Data Science that spans all four undergraduate colleges and is affiliated with the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute. Students in Data Science are introduced to the foundations of this interdisciplinary field, with coursework in computer programming, statistics, machine learning, and visualization, interwoven with ethical considerations of collecting, curating, analyzing, visualizing, and interpreting data. The minor in Data Science prepares students for advanced coursework in statistics and data analysis, scientific computing and simulation, machine learning and visualization, and high performance computing and big data. The minor strives to prepare students for unique immersion experiences in basic and applied research, for civic and professional engagement in the public and private sectors, and for international experiences in industry, government, or non-governmental organizations. The minor provides a solid foundation for future professions or graduate study in any field that collects, analyzes, models, or interprets data.