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Every time we make a phone call, browse the Internet, make a purchase with our credit cards, or send a Tweet, we are creating data. The human appetite for collecting and analyzing data, combined with the rapid development of digital technology, is fueling the rise of the field of Big Data.

In the last few years more data has been produced than in all of previous human history. According to, the amount of data created from the Dawn of Time to 2003 was about 5 exabytes (5 billion gigabytes). From 2003 to 2012, they estimate that 500 times more data was created, or 2.7 zettabytes (2.7 billion terabytes). By 2015, total data will grow 3 times larger again (8 billion terabytes).

Big Data course offered

To prepare our Computer Professionals Program students to enter the Big Data analytics field, Professor Premchand Nair taught a course on this topic last month. According to Prof. Nair, “The aim of the course was to provide both theory and experience in Big Data technology. Students gained an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts of Big Data, such as the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), MapReduce program model, and design-efficient MapReduce algorithms. On a practical level, students set up their own single node Hadoop cluster, and created and tested many MapReduce programs in Java. They also learned to use a GUI interface, command line interface and Eclipse IDE to implement many MapReduce programs in Java. The practical experience they gained will help our students succeed by giving them the confidence to deal with other emerging technologies.”

Student comments

“Big Data was an interesting course, because it represented a new stream of software handling Big Data using MapReduce and Hadoop. The project was also interesting, because it was something like the “items recommendations” in based on members’ purchase history.”

“Because there are a lot of openings for software engineers having MapReduce and Hadoop knowledge and experience, this course will be a great help when I search for an internship. –Wael Hassan (Egypt)

Students in Big Data class.

“Big data is an emerging technology that provides capabilities of efficiently processing vast repositories of data. In this course we learned about mappers, reducers, partitioners, combiners, HDFS, Hadoop cluster architecture, in-mapper combining, pairs and stripes, computing relative frequencies, secondary sorting, web crawling, inverted indexes and index compression. We completed an individual project called “Crystal Ball” which analyzed historical customer datasets and came up with the predictions for events that may happen once a certain event happens. We wrote algorithms using above techniques to achieve this result.”

Big Data has a big demand in the IT industry, since a lot of well-known companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are already using it. So I am sure that the knowledge gained from this course will definitely be useful in my career, and I am excited to play with it in the future.” –Nishadi Kolonne (Sri Lanka)

Students in Big Data Class.

“We live in a data-driven world. The efficient operation of organizations across sectors relies on the effective use of vast amounts of structured and unstructured data. Making sense of Big Data is a combination of organizations having the tools, skills, and more importantly, the mindset to see data as the new “oil” fueling a company. Because of the increasing charm and demand for Big Data Analytics professionals, I always wanted to acquire knowledge in this field of computing. My dream finally came true when I got the opportunity to enroll in this Big Data course.

“From this project work I got ample chance to implement, compare and contrast various MapReduce algorithms such as pairs and stripes, considering the execution time, and other performance factors. One important concept that I could apply was the use of order inversion to calculate relative frequency of any event with respect to others. I also learned to use based line as well as revised algorithm inverted indexing for text retrieval. This is applicable for search engines for full text search as well as web crawling.”

I am very much impressed with the course content and the teaching approach adopted by Professor Nair, and enjoyed the course from the day it started to the day it ended. The knowledge gained will help me start a career in the demanding area of Big Data Analytics.” –Laxman Adhikari (Nepal)

“Big Data was a great course for me. I never imagined that I would gain that much knowledge in a 4-week course. We created projects like those developed by big companies like Google. It really will help me to realize my dream of working in a huge company like Google, Yahoo! or Amazon.” –Ali Alrahahleh (Jordan)

Professor Nair lecturing in Big Data course.

Note: Because of the popularity of the Big Data course, Dr. Nair will be offering it again in May. Questions may be sent to