What is a data scientist?

With the hype of Big Data and its perceived ability in solving every problem that has ever existed, the term “data scientists” has become somewhat popular. The definition of a data scientist is up for debate and in this post I would describe my take on what actually is a data scientist. I would also like to share why you might want to adopt a data scientist’s mindset even if you are not planning to become one.

A data scientist is basically a problem solver equipped with some specific skills related to data! Well that’s very generic you might think and yes it probably is and it’s a good thing! Data scientists when compared to other professionals in the data field, have a wider spectrum of skillset. Data scientists might not be the most technical capable in one field but they have the capability to:

  1. Realise a problem
  2. Gather the required data
  3. Analyse the data using various techniques,
  4. Come up with a solution
  5. Then tell others about all the wonderful things that they have done!

For a very brief example, I would like to become a data scientist and adopt their practice! I have realized a need for writing a blog post to share my thoughts and so I went on to read some of my favourite data science blogs to see how others go about it. I then give it a deep thought and come up with ideas with different topics. Then I picked one that deems most suitable and write about it! Viola and now I have a blog post that I can share!

But wait a minute you say, where does that data part come in? I must admit that there isn’t so much data related content in this blog post. However this is why I said at the beginning that why you might want to adopt a data scientist mind set even if you are not going to become one.

A scientist should be somebody who’s curious about the world that he/she interacts so much with everyday. He/she would like to find out more how things work and connect together. They ask questions and through experiments and analysis, they find out the answers. The most important thing is that their imaginations and actions are not limited by what they know now but what they want to know/achieve. They set targets and figure out ways to get there. They are also willing to share this power of knowledge and make the world a better place. A data scientist is a scientist who focuses heavily on data. We do not sit around to be handed a problem. We discover problems by interacting with people and things around us. We proactively collect (or sometimes create!) data. We analyse the data and share our thoughts and solutions. Therefore even if you are not a data scientist, you should think about what is it that you want to achieve in you life and start doing it! It might not start of very well (just like this awful blog post…) but eventually you (or we together) can zigzag through the obstacles and get to our Utopia.

TL;DR : Don’t let the status quo limits you. Identify what is that you really want and figure out a way to achieve it!

For those who still think that there ought to be some data related content in this post, here I present you with a Venn diagram first created by Drew Conway! We as data scientist should aim to arrive at the very center of the diagram. This is the same as the original diagram only this time it is drawn in Python using the Matplotlib module (Visualisation skills is important!). The code can be found in this Github repository.

venn

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