Lifelong learning is important to Alberto Tagliaro, who as a mature student, is pursuing a Master’s in Information Technology through the Department of Computer Science.
With a background in earth sciences, Alberto decided he needed a firm foundation in Information technology to interpret and understand the vast amounts of data that has been collected by the organisations he works with.
As a geologist and geochemist, Alberto has worked with oil exploration companies that collected and interpreted data in order to find resources.
“Vast amounts of data get collected and stored and geoscientists need to be able to access all that information and use it to find oil,” says Alberto.
The MIT degree is by coursework and research, using mainly self-study materials for the coursework. The programme is aimed primarily at students without a degree in computer science or information technology/systems, but who use information technology in their jobs. The coursework includes, programming in Python, database systems, cyber law and ethics, software engineering, computer networks, human-computer interaction, and research methodology.
For the research part of the course, Alberto is focusing on ontology engineering. This provides the foundation for artificial intelligence.
“I’m interested in water resources and groundwater. There are databases and systems that have a lot of information in them and ontology is a way of extracting the information out of the system by asking intelligent questions, but without having to know all the detail about how the database is constructed and coded,” says Alberto. This can be applied to water resource management.
Ontology engineering provides a way to access the vast resources available in existing databases, but is largely inaccessible to most people, because they don’t know what’s available and they don’t have the skills to extract the knowledge that lies in the databases. “[Ontology] makes them findable, searchable and query-able,” says Alberto.
By using these tools, ‘Big Data’ can generate new and fascinating insights. Alberto provides the example of Has Rosling, an information scientist who finds public domain information and analyses it. Watch his talk here. Although not about the use of ontologies, the talk shows some interesting ideas that can be discovered in existing data.
The MIT course is especially useful for students who already have expertise in a particular subject and want to use information technology to enhance their skills in a cross-disciplinary approach.
School of Information Technology
Skool vir Inligtingstegnologie