When I was a freshly minted college graduate, my first job saw me working as a contractor for an intelligence agency, building desktop applications in Visual Basic to connect databases to a visual front end. I’ve been working in this industry for almost two decades, and although the technology has changed, the problem of making sense of the relationships embedded in vast quantities of data has become even more urgent. In today’s marketplace, there’s a real need to be able to understand data quickly, effectively, and elegantly.

More organizations are collecting more data for more purposes every day than a team of analysts could parse in an entire career. It used to be only large government agencies that were handling this volume of data, ...

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