Dark materials: how one academic is delving into data

David Hand shines a light on dark data and the dangers of distortion by absence


Dark matter – the massive but invisible gravity-producing substance that bends the orbital paths of distant galaxies – was so named by scientists in 1933. Dark data is its statistical equivalent, capable of exercising similar qualities at work in the data cosmos.

“Time and again, people are misled by dark data,” David Hand, senior research investigator and emeritus professor of mathematics at Imperial College London, tells Risk.net. “They think they have a good description of what’s going on

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