2013 Keynote Address:

Dr. Ed Lazowska

Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington

2013 Critical Conversations Keynote Address: Ed Lazowska

"Big Data, Enormous Opportunity"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | 3:30 p.m.

Student Union Theater, North Campus

Join us as we welcome the inaugural lecturer in the CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS series: Dr. Ed Lazowska, holder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering and Founding Director of the eScience Institute at the University of Washington. One of the world’s foremost scholars in the area of high-performance computing and communication systems, Dr. Lazowska will share his unique insights into the modern “big data” paradigm—a topic of far-reaching societal impact and implications for the future.

Schedule Highlights


3:30-5:00 PM

Diversity and STEM Fields

Panel discussion featuring Dr. Lazowska and UB faculty, staff, students and alumni

120 Clemens Hall, UB North Campus



3:30-5:00 PM

Big Data, Enormous Opportunity

Keynote address by Dr. Ed Lazowska

Student Union Theater, reception to follow in the Student Union Social Hall

Abstract: Keynote Address by Dr. Ed Lazowska

We are at the dawn of a revolutionary new age of data-intensive discovery.

This transformation is enabled by rapid advances in our ability to acquire and generate data. Extracting knowledge from this abundance of data – performing inference over heterogeneous, noisy, and often massive datasets – is increasingly essential to virtually all fields. “Getting this right” will dramatically impact the biological sciences, the environmental sciences, the physical sciences, the social sciences, and beyond, and will unite these fields with the data science methodology fields of computer science, statistics, and applied mathematics.

Unfortunately, universities are not well prepared for this transformation. Computing is characterized by exponentials: exponential improvements in processor speed, storage capacity, network bandwidth, sensors, even algorithms. These exponential improvements are invisible to most people until suddenly they sweep over us and catch us unaware. Data-intensive discovery has this characteristic.

In this talk, I’ll begin by taking a look at past progress in my own field of computer science. I’ll then explore the coming decade, during which we’ll “put the smarts into everything.” One aspect of this that’s particularly critical to modern universities is “smart discovery”; I’ll explore this next. I’ll close with some comments on university culture and reward structures, and on the opportunity and the need for the revolution in data-intensive discovery to stimulate change and make our institutions more integrated and more inclusive.