Big data revolution gathers pace in Liverpool

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Big data is transforming our lives. From Uber to Amazon, the ability of some of the world’s biggest companies to harness the power of information has already revolutionised how we live, work, and think.

The pace of this change is set to rapidly increase over the coming years, as organisations create increasingly complex computer models and apply powerful artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning to extract value from seemingly impossibly large data sets.

Despite the huge potential for big data to transform the future of transport, healthcare and energy, there is a growing shortage of data scientists across Europe. Two years ago, the European Commission published a report suggesting that 100,000 new data-related jobs will be created by 2020 without skilled people available to meet this demand. Recognising the critical importance of tackling this digital skills gap, the Liverpool Big Data Science (LIV.DAT) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) was founded in 2017.

LIV.DAT, a collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, is training cohorts of PhD students to manage, analyse and interpret large, complex datasets and high rates of data flow. Funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), LIV.DAT provides its students with comprehensive training in data intensive science through cutting edge research projects and a targeted academic training programme, as well as secondments to major international organisations such as IBM, Microsoft and CERN.

Phillip Marshall, a LIV.DAT PhD student, is working with Professor Themis Bowcock from the University of Liverpool on a research project that aims to apply deep learning techniques to analyse data from the LHCb detector at CERN. By colliding particles together, the LHCb experiment is exploring what happened immediately after the Big Bang,  generating a huge amount of experimental data.

With raw data rates as high as tens of Terabytes per second, real-time analysis of the LHCb experimental data is a major challenge. By applying existing deep learning techniques to a variety of areas of LHCb, the team aim to reduce the amount of data required to be analysed, thus improving the overall performance and methodology of the experiment.

Later this month, the LIV.DAT student cohort will take part in the Accelerators for Science and Society Symposium, an event that will showcase how accelerator technology research is driving innovation across a wide range of sectors, creating significant economic, scientific and societal benefits.

Held at the Arena and Convention Centre (ACC) in Liverpool on Friday 28th June, the Symposium will feature a number short talks from world-leading European researchers on a range of topics from big data to cancer treatment. All of the talks will be live streamed around the world for free between 10:15 and 13:00 (GMT+1), with a number of satellite events taking place in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.

Professor Maria Fasli, Director for the Institute for Analytics and Data Science at the University of Essex, is one the world-leading experts who will be showcasing their research at the Accelerators for Science and Society Symposium.

Speaking ahead of her talk on ‘the power of data’ at the symposium, Professor Fasli said, “We live in unprecedented times and data has become a force of disruption and innovation shaping us and our future. Perhaps the biggest challenge we face is harnessing the power of data for public good and ensuring that the benefits of AI reach all levels of society across the world whilst at the same time preserving privacy and supporting human rights.

Professor Carsten Welsch, Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Liverpool and Director of LIV.DAT, said, “Big data and accelerator research have gone hand in hand for a number of decades. The World Wide Web was first developed by Tim Berners-Lee in the 1980s as a way for particle physicists at CERN to share their large data sets remotely around the world. Now thirty years on from this first data revolution, we’re training the next generation of data scientists here in Liverpool to bring benefits for both science and society.

For more information on how to watch the free live stream of the Accelerators for Science and Society Symposium visit and follow the Symposium across social media using #AccSciSoc.