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The Big Apple's Big Data Advantage

By Fortune

August 22, 2012

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Microsoft's new research lab in Manhattan will focus on big data analysis, examining massive amounts of information created by the world's digital users, says lab director Jennifer Chayes.

She says the facility will study how big data can help answer social science and economic questions, and what it means for the interaction of the social sciences with technology. One project involves studying how people make bets, because if people place bets on certain things, they are usually more invested in that thing, which can be a very effective way of collecting data, Chayes notes. The lab also has researchers that are building Vowpal Wabbit, a machine-learning platform that provides a faster way to analyze huge data sets.

Chayes says the lab has strong relationships with all of the major universities in the area, such as New York University, Columbia University, and Cornell University. New York City has adopted the nickname "Silicon Alley," and it is becoming a focal point for data-intensive startups in Web 2.0 and beyond, Chayes notes. "When you look at the new companies out there, so many of them are really data-driven businesses," she says.

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