What is Data Mining?

what is data mining

Observing and measuring patterns is certainly not a new practice, but the process of data mining has placed an unrivaled amount of information at the fingertips of modern statisticians. The field of data science has bloomed as a result, as many companies seek out qualified professionals with mathematical and analytical skills. While mining data allows companies to provide targeted and customized service, some methods have been criticized as an invasion of personal privacy or on other ethical grounds.

The Basics of Data Mining

The term “data mining” technically describes the process of locating useful information out of a larger pool of raw data. Analysis of the data focuses on finding anomalies, patterns and correlations that could provide predictive insight. As with any kind of statistical analysis, the reliability of the results depends on the quality and breadth of survey techniques. The process of mining is focused on the interpretation of information, so data scientists also need to verify the integrity of their source.

Current Applications

Making sense of large amounts of data is useful in almost any industry, but it has seen explosive growth in usage in the commerce sector. Since modern companies can serve thousands or millions of people, and have many more potential customers, the ability to measure human behavior has become a crucial weapon in a competitive market. It is particularly prevalent in digital environments, with many social media sites and online stores tracking user internet activity.

Data Science and Technology

The core concept behind data mining is simple, but actually analyzing the data requires training, experience and familiarity with the technology. Typically, data scientists apply analytical methods to a finite set of information in order to determine underlying factors influencing the outcome. Modern methodology heavily relies on the creation and application of complex algorithms that help the practitioner identify relevant points. Data scientists may tailor their approach to focus on recognizing certain types patterns or correlations depending on the objective of the analysis.

Ethical Concerns

Many people have expressed concern that conventional data gathering and mining practices could lead to an intolerable invasion of personal privacy. Embedded cookies allow companies to monitor browser user activity even after they leave the site and some social media outlets track all site participation to create individually targeted advertising. There are also some ethical considerations regarding the use of data science by political organizations to influence voters.

Careers in Data Science

The field of data mining is still in its developing stages, so there will certainly be many new innovations that shape the way it functions in modern society. Even though there are many uncertainties about the field’s future, there is sure to be demand for qualified professionals who can successful apply the practice. In fact, data scientist was rated as the top job in America for 2017 in a recent report by Glassdoor.


Data science and the technology that supports it is fast becoming a defining force in modern commerce as well as other mathematical and scientific fields of study. The techniques and objectives of data mining may evolve with time, but the core principles of the discipline are well-suited to adaptation and improvement.

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