Our Mission

The Data Science Institute (DSI) at Columbia University strives to be a force for change. We advance the state-of-the-art in data science; transform all fields, professions, and sectors through the application of data science; and ensure the responsible use of data to benefit society.

Drawing on Columbia’s strengths in computer science, statistics, and industrial engineering and operations research, DSI was launched in 2012 to unite our expertise and a University-wide interest in this revolutionary approach. The University is a trailblazer in the field and is uniquely poised to expand data science to every corner of the institution.

We train the next generation of data scientists, develop innovative technology, foster collaborations in advancing techniques to interpret data and address pressing societal problems, and work closely with industry to bring promising ideas to market.

What is data science?

Although data science builds on knowledge from computer science, mathematics, statistics, and other disciplines, data science is a unique field with many mysteries to unlock: challenging scientific questions and pressing questions of societal importance.

Data science is the study of extracting value from data.

The three key words in this definition are study, extracting, and value.

Study includes both the art and science that guides any field of scientific pursuit. Data science shows great applicability to many domains and the demand for practicing data scientists far exceeds the supply.

Extracting emphasizes action on data. One or more transformations may need to occur to raw data before any value is gained. The data must be mined for its worth.

Value leaves it to the end user to determine what value is. For a large technology company, value can be pegged to revenue. For a policymaker, value can mean a justification for a policy change. For a scholar, value can simply mean the discovery of knowledge.