Angelo, one of our postgraduate students, was recently in Bari (Italy) to attend the 3rd International Winter School on Big Data—BigDat2017. The winter school was organised by the University of Bari (IT) and Universitat Rovira i Virgili (ES).

Big Data has recently gained a lot of interest in research and many believe that it will still play its leading role for many years. Nowadays, we live in a world in which all information seems to be available, we are surrounded by data-driven applications (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, just to name a few), which gather data and try to provide tailor-made solutions for their users. To this end, having such event like BigDat2017 with its clear mission—introduce and update new researchers into this fast advancing research area—is really important.

Throughout the week, BigDat2017 offered 22 classes covering a wide variety aspects and applications centred around the Big Data such as modelling, management, verification, security, sentiment analysis, recommended systems, signal processing and so forth. Among the lecturers there were several authorities in their respective fields. Here are just few names:

  • Jeffrey Ullman, from Stanford University, author of many books such as Principles of Compiler Design also known for his MOOC on Mining of Massive Datasets on Coursera
  • Sander Klous, from the University of Amsterdam, Nobel Prize in 2013 for his research on the Higgs Boson and author of We Are Big Data
  • Bernhard Pfahringer, from the Waikato University (NZ) and maily known to be one of the founder of Weka
  • George Giannakis, from the University of Minnesota,
  • Lyle Ungar, from the University of Philadelphia
  • Diego Calvanese, from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Geoffrey Fox, from the Indiana University

and many others. Each professor delivered a 6 hours course.

With the combination of both the relevance of the subject and the quality of the speakers, the school reached an audience of more than 350 participants including graduate students, postgraduates, postdocs and companies.

Among the already over-busy schedule, every morning before the classes there were seminars.  Different researchers showed both the role of the University of Bari and the National Interuniversity Consortium for Informatics (CINI) in the context of Big Data. Damiani from the University of Milan showed the European Project Toreador H2020, which is an architectural framework for Big Data analytics. It contains a set of components that can be combined to create a model for data analysis. Lastly, Quercia from the Bell Labs (Cambridge, UK), talked about the research he conducted in the recent past years. In his talk he spread the idea of “Shortest paths to happiness”, in which thanks to a collaborative game. In this game users define their feeling on pictures of streets, then his approach is able to provide shortest paths based on people taste and that can make your journey more pleasant.

In addition, some professors held a panel discussing about current challenges and opportunities that Big Data offers. Although it lasted just about one hour, many students had the chance to grasp panellists’ experience. Many questions were related to some daily basis issues: incompleteness, noise, outliers, dimension, streaming and so on.

The winter school accomplished its mission. All the professors did a wonderful job in delivering their courses. Many students had the chance to acquire new perspectives on Big Data and prepare themselves for the next few years coming. 

Link to the winter school website:



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