The January/February 2014 issue of Java Magazine came out recently. This issue focuses on Big Data, which for very good reasons is receiving lots of attention. Based on the several decades I've spent working on mathematical modeling software and scientific data analysis, I have absolutely no doubt that the combination of Big Data techniques on the one hand, and inexpensive sensors (think Internet of Things) on the other had, is going to fundamentally transform the world in terms of technology.

Here's Java Magazine Editor Caroline Kvitka's introduction to the January/February issue:


As Caroline notes, there's more in this issue than Big Data, but Big Data is the focus.

Going back to the Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) connection -- if you're wondering what I mean by that, take a look at the article "Power to the People". This article shows how OPower is changing the future of energy, in particular from the energy consumption side. OPower monitors the energy consumption of close to 100 Million residents across the world, and provides them with reports that detail their energy consumption patterns, including data on how their own energy consumption compares with other households in the neighborhood.

The input data comes from power meters on individual homes. But this isn't just a monthly check of power usage. Rather, the actual time series of power usage is evaluated over the course of the month, then a report is generated and sent to the customer. The report facilitates money-saving alterations in energy use by individual households.

The back-end technology includes Hadoop, Hibernate, Spring, and MySQL. OPower is another example where, when they were just getting off the ground, they considered going with languages like Ruby and Python -- but the knowledge that, if they succeeded, they'd be facing immense data processing requirements, led them to go straight to Java from the start.

As Caroline says, other instructive Big Data articles in this issue include:

While the Big Data poll we ran last November wasn't entirely conclusive, I think it's pretty clear from history that 'Big Data' isn't going away. This is because Big Data is simply the latest way to utilize our ever-increasing computational power.

Now, it may not be true when it comes to baseball fields that "if you build it, they will come" (see "Field of Dreams"). But, tell me, have you yet seen in your lifetime an instance where increased hardware and processing capability didn't almost immediately elicit a stream of new applications that fully utilize it? Then beg for more???

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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)