2nd Meetup – BigData project

On Wednesday August 24th 2011, we had our second meetup. As some people cancelled at the last moment, the crowd was not as large as for our first meetup: now, there were just 6 of us.

This meetup was the first time we organised our get-together as an open discussion. Davy Suvee came up with that idea and apparently everybody present enjoyed this format very much. This article is a synopsis of the topics discussed.

On the look for a Big Data project

One of the major demands from our community members is to work together on some specific Big Data project to gain hands on experience. In this respect the Big Data Wars thread was started on our groups page. However, instead of organizing a true public challenge, it would be easier and more instructive to just participate on a challenge as a team or to look for a specific project that we can implement ourselves. They are outlined underneath.

We decided to create a bitbucket account where we can define, plan, work and code on these projects.

Wikipedia’s Participation Challenge

A few days after Daan Gerits launched the BigData Wars idea on the group page, Nathan Bijnens referred to the Wikipedia’s Participation Challenge as a good fit for a BigData.be project. You can read the full description on the kaggle.com page, but the idea is to build a predictive model that allows the Wikimedia Foundation to understand what factors determine editing behaviour and to forecast long term trends in the number of edits to be expected on wikipedia.org. A random sample from the English Wikipedia dataset from the period January 2001 – August 2010 serves as training dataset for the predictive model.

Appealing to this challenge is that it is a very specific problem description,  encompassing quite a large fraction of the big data complexity:

  • data availability,
  • datastore modelling,
  • defining secondary data,
  • deriving sampled test data,
  • building predictive models using various approaches, technologies and algorithms.

However, as the deadline for the project is very close, i.e. Tuesday 20 September 2011, we probably won’t be truly participating, but we can still use the problem definition.

So, if you are interested in participating in this topic, contact us or join in in the discussion or the repository:

 

Other proposals

Two more proposals were made as project topics:

  1. BioMed: As a computational biology researcher at Ghent University, Kenny Helsens proposed to see if he could come up with some suitable project definition in the area of bioinformatics, maybe genome- or proteome related.
  2. Immo and GIS: Another interesting area for a well-suited project might be the combination of historical data made available by some immo website with GIS related data e.g. from OpenStreetMap. A number of interesting problems can be derived, requiring e.g. predictive models. We’ll be contacting some immo websites on this matter.

As these projects are still in their incubation stage, we haven’t yet created any specific web areas for them. However, these might follow very soon, so keep checking back!

Realtime MapReduce

Daan Gerits has been working on some big data and noSQL projects, and was wondering if anybody has experience with bringing Hadoop and/or MR to the realtime playing field, instead of keeping it strictly for batch processing. The basic difference being that you would be able to feed the data crunching algorithms incrementally or by streaming data into the system and have the algorithms merge these into the already (partially) existing result sets.

During a presentation at the SAI on 7 April 2011, Steven Noels and Wim Van Leuven also pointed out that any big data processing system needs a combination of a batch layer with a speed layer to achieve at least eventual accuracy. The speed layer architectually being the most challenging. However, if we could combine realtime with existing MR algorithms, …

Some suitable technologies and pointers where raised: Yahoo S4, IBM InfoSphere Streams, Datastax Brisk, and Twitter’s Storm. However, no practical experience exists within our community.

Big Data Technology poll

As our meetup group was rather small, we did not redo the technology poll. However, we were wondering if some suitable tool exist to automate the poll via the bigdata.be website or other electronic means, like Google docs. So if you have any good idea in this area, please let us know!

See y’all at the next meetup!

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