JCDL Conference 2008

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Keynote — Alex Szalay

Thursday, June 19, 8:30-10:00am

Fernanda Viégas

Scientific Publishing in the Era of Petabyte Data



Today’s scientific datasets are growing into Petabytes. A similar transition is happening in industry and society. Web search companies have to deal routinely with tens of Petabytes, a substantial fraction of the world’s computers go into data warehouses of the Big 5. Scientists, librarians and publishers are just beginning to grasp the magnitude and multi-faceted nature of the problems facing us. Every step of the usual scientific process will need to change and change soon. Science in the 21st century will require a different set of skills than previously, more computational and algorithmic thinking and more interdisciplinary interaction will be hallmarks of a successful scientist. The talk will present the challenges and trends in this ‘brave new world’.

Alexander Szalay is the Alumni Centennial Professor of Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University. He is also Professor in the Department of Computer Science. He is a cosmologist, working on the statistical measures of the spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy formation. He was born and educated in Hungary. After graduation he spent postdoctoral periods at UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago, before accepting a faculty position at Johns Hopkins. In 1990 he has been elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as a Corresponding Member. He is the architect for the Science Archive of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He has collaborated with Jim Gray of Microsoft to design an efficient system to perform data mining on the SDSS Terabyte sized archive, based on innovative spatial indexing techniques. He is leading a grass-roots standardization effort to bring the next generation Terabyte-sized databases in astronomy to a common basis, so that they will be interoperable – the Virtual Observatory. He is Project Director of the NSF-funded National Virtual Observatory. He has written over 340 papers in various scientific journals, covering areas from theoretical cosmology to observational astronomy, spatial statistics and computer science. In 2003 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he received an Alexander Von Humboldt Prize in Physical Sciences.

You can learn more about Professor Szalay at his personal home page.