A glossary for big data in population and public health: discussion and commentary on terminology and research methods

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Abstract

The volume and velocity of data are growing rapidly and big data analytics are being applied to these data in many fields. Population and public health researchers may be unfamiliar with the terminology and statistical methods used in big data. This creates a barrier to the application of big data analytics. The purpose of this glossary is to define terms used in big data and big data analytics and to contextualise these terms. We define the five Vs of big data and provide definitions and distinctions for data mining, machine learning and deep learning, among other terms. We provide key distinctions between big data and statistical analysis methods applied to big data. We contextualise the glossary by providing examples where big data analysis methods have been applied to population and public health research problems and provide brief guidance on how to learn big data analysis methods.

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