Introduction

It’s the data, stupid.

Jim Gray

Back in the mid-1960s, my high school held pep rallies before big games. At one of these rallies, the head coach of the football team walked to the center of the stage, carrying a large box of printed computer paper; each large sheet was folded flip-flop style against the next sheet, all held together by perforations. The coach announced that the athletic abilities of every member of our team had been entered into the school’s computer (we were lucky enough to have our own IBM-360 mainframe). Likewise, data on our rival team had also been entered. The computer was instructed to digest all of this information and to produce the name of the team that would win the annual Thanksgiving Day showdown. ...

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