Data Scientists to be trained in Pisa: a new Ph.D Course in Data Science is Launched

datascience3A new Ph.D. course in Data Science is born in Pisa. The Scuola Normale, the University of Pisa, the Sant’Anna School, the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, and the CNR, will bestow the highest postgraduate academic title, the International Ph.D. degree (corresponding to the Italian title “Dottore di Ricerca”), in the discipline studying Big Data and the impact of Data Science on society and science as a whole.

For the first time, these five educational and research institutions will jointly confer an academic title in a collective effort to offer the students of the Ph.D. course in Data Science the chance to investigate all of the possible theoretical and practical branches of the subject. There will be eight open positions for the academic year of 2017/2018 starting on November 1st, and the course will cover three years. The call for admission will be released by the Scuola Normale, and successful candidates will be considered “normalisti” in all respects, but they will attend their lessons in all involved institutions in Pisa and Lucca. Furthermore, the degree certificate they will be conferred at the end of the course will show the logos of all 5 institutions. The Ph.D. course is open to candidates with any Master’s degree, as long as they show a solid motivation, personal preparation, and a strong call for the study of quantitative aspects of their specialisation field. Lessons will take place in English. Prof. Dino Pedreschi (University of Pisa) is the coordinator.

This new Ph.D. course, the first one of its kind in Italy (together with the one by University of Bologna), aims at forming a new generation of data scientists able to take advantage of a big amount of data in order to advance in every scientific field. Data scientists are in fact the most in-demand professionals at the moment, and, according to the recent report “The Future of Work” by the World Economic Forum, theirs is the only profession to show a constant growth in every scientific and manufacturing field worldwide. But what is a data scientist? They are a mix between a computer scientist, a statistician and a narrator, and are capable of acquiring, integrating, and making sense of data in order to tell the story they convey, for example through their visualisation. All of this, taking into account ethical aspects and the impact on society and science.

Data Science marked a paradigm shift involving every scientific field, and leading to the finding of a new knowledge emerging from the huge amount of data available today. This could suggest new models for a better understanding of complex social, economic, biological, technological, cultural, and natural phenomena. The wide availability of big data resulted in the merging of different subjects and technologies: Databases and Data Mining, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Complex Systems and Network Science, Statistics and Statistical Physics, Content Analysis, and Applied Mathematics. Data Science was born from this multidisciplinary diversity.

In this contest, the Tuscan centres of the University of Pisa, the CNR (with its institutes ISTI and IIT), the Scuola Normale, the Sant’Anna School, and the IMT School Lucca, have been attracting a significant number of data scientists, who started countless pioneering European projects in this field. Two years ago, within the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission chose the “SoBigData.eu” consortium (lead by Pisan scientists) to create a European research infrastructure for Big Data, basically the CERN of Data Science. The Ph.D. course in Data Science, which involves the same partners as the consortium, stresses the importance of this collaboration: Students will be able to experiment new methods in every subject area, strong of the experience gained in the last few years by the partners involved. All of the institutions offering the Ph.D. programme will contribute to an equal extent to offer students the best study and research standards, in addition to scholarships.