Data Science is Spectacular and Professor Andrea Jones-Rooy Shows Us Why

Professor Andrea Jones–Rooy (Photo credit: Andrew T. Foster)

“Data can’t speak for itself,” Professor Andrea Jones-Rooy contended as they paced the stage before a captivated audience. During the Data Science Spectacular, which took place March 1, 2022 in-person and as a live stream, Andrea, the event’s host, focused their presentation on explaining just what data science is and perhaps more importantly, what data science is not.

“Data science is better understanding the world through data and science,” Andrea affirmed. Before arriving at this definition, they discussed many common misconceptions about the field, first focusing on one particular misconception, which is that data science is primarily about programming. “What programming language should I learn?” is a question commonly asked by many people who express interest in joining the field. However, as Andrea explains, data science is about thinking, reasoning, and inference as much as it is about the programming that allows us to do those things.”

Throughout the presentation, Andrea delved into many misunderstandings about data science, discussing phrases we often hear companies in particular say about data like: What does the data say? Your data has a story to tell. Our solutions are data-driven. What Andrea rather eloquently clarified is that data doesn’t do or say anything. If any meaning is to be derived from data, we are the ones who must use it to observe, predict, and explain. Or as Andrea more amusingly put it: we must use data to attempt to figure out what’s going on, what’s going to happen, and why it is happening.

One of the presentation’s most illuminating slides read: “All data is wrong. All science is wrong. And that’s the point.” A key takeaway is that the magic of data science lies not in the data itself but in how we approach it. Ultimately, the event was both a fun and educational evening on the discipline, and no one does fun and education quite like Andrea Jones-Rooy.

To read more of their thoughts on data science, check out Andrea’s guest editorial piece from fall 2021. To learn more about their research, please visit Professor Jones-Rooy’s website.

By Ashley C. McDonald

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Official account of the Center for Data Science at NYU, home of the Undergraduate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs in Data Science.

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NYU Center for Data Science

NYU Center for Data Science

Official account of the Center for Data Science at NYU, home of the Undergraduate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs in Data Science.

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