10 influential data scientists and why you should follow them on Twitter

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No matter what industry you work in, chances are the applications your business uses are generating vast quantities of data that are increasing exponentially. The confluence of technologies that generate enormous amounts of data, store it, and analyze it in a timely manner affords businesses an unprecedented opportunity to put that data to work. Big data, when processed with predictive analytics algorithms, lets you find new patterns in data, and make increasingly accurate predictions about future business trends and opportunities. It's also playing a role in the software development life cycle, according to the 2015 World Quality Report survey.

The role of predictive analytics has become such a disruptive force in business that the Harvard Business Review recently suggested that data scientists might have the sexiest jobs of the 21st century.

Who are the people leading the charge? To help you keep up with the current trends and opportunities in data science and predictive analytics, we pulled together this list of influential data scientists worth following. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 data scientists you should be following.

1. Dean Abbott

Dean Abbott is co-founder and chief data scientist at SmarterHQ, and founder and president of Abbott Analytics. He is a co-author of the IBM SPSS Modeler Cookbook, and the author of Applied Predictive Analytics: Principles and Techniques for the Professional Data Analyst. Follow his blog at http://abbottanalytics.blogspot.com.

2. Kenneth Cukier

Kenneth Cukier is the data editor for The Economist. He's a co-author of the book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, and is a popular speaker. Watch him gave a fascinating TED talk on "Big data is better data."

3. John Elder

John Elder is the founder of data mining consultancy Elder Research, Inc. He is a frequent keynote speaker, and served for five years on a presidential panel tasked with guiding technology for national security. He is the author of several books, including the Handbook of Statistical Analysis and Data Mining Applications, Ensemble Methods in Data Mining, and Practical Text Mining, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia, where he teaches the optimization of data mining. You can watch many of his presentations on YouTube.

4. Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr, founder and CEO of the Advanced Performance Institute, regularly advises businesses and government organizations on how to gain better insights from their data. He is a contributor to the World Economic Forum, and is recognized by LinkedIn as one of the world's top 50 business influencers. He is a sought-after keynote speaker, and is the author of many articles and books, including Big Data: Using SMART Big Data, Analytics and Metrics to Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance.

5. Hilary Mason

Hilary Mason, founder of Fast Forward Labs, has also served as chief scientist at Bitly, Inc., co-founded HackNY, and is a member of NYCResistor. Mason was cited by Fortune in its 40 Under 40 list, and is a popular influencer on LinkedIn, where she has a large following. She enjoys speaking, and you can find many of her presentations on YouTube.

6. Andrew Ng

Andrew Ng is chief scientist at Baidu Research, associate professor at Stanford University, and founder and chairman of the board at Coursera. He is the founder of the Google Brain project, which developed large-scale artificial neural networks, one of which taught itself to recognize cats in videos. He specializes in deep learning and has published over 100 papers in machine learning and other fields. You can find links to many of them from the Andrew Ng web page.

7. Lillian Pierson

Lillian Pierson is the founder and chief data scientist at Data-Mania. She speaks, trains, and consults on data science, analytics, and big data, and is the author of the recently published Data Science for Dummies. She has a blog, and a YouTube channel where she explains concepts in data science.

8. Kira Radinsky

Kira Radinsky is the founder and CTO at SalesPredict, where she is pioneering artificial intelligence??based, predictive analytics applications that transform the way companies do business. She has won many awards, and has been recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 as a rising star of enterprise technology. She maintains a blog, where she writes about the application of predictive analytics, and has contributed several articles to the Harvard Business Review. You can find many of her talks on YouTube.

9. Sebastian Thrun

Sebastian Thrun is CEO at Udacity and a research professor at Stanford University. He founded Google[x], where he led the Google driverless car project, and continues as an advisor. He is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, a popular influencer on LinkedIn, and has a large following on Twitter. Thrun has authored and contributed to 11 books and hundreds of papers, and was named one of Popular Science's Brilliant Ten scientists of 2005.

10. John Myles White

John Myles White is a data scientist at Facebook and a Julia developer. His areas of expertise include machine learning, statistics, data science, and the R programming language for statistics. He is a speaker and writer, and is the author of several books on machine learning, including Bandit Algorithms for Website Optimization, Machine Learning for Hackers, and Machine Learning for Email. You can find his presentations on YouTube.

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