Distributed Analytics Techniques

ODISSEI will seek to examine the potential for application in the social sciences through the use of distributed computation through federated learning algorithms. This has been applied in the Personal Health Train which is a concept that was developed in the medical sciences. In the Verantwoordelijke Waardecreatie met Big Data project, funded by the NWA (project number: 400.17.605), Maastricht University together with The Maastricht Study and Statistics Netherlands are implementing the Personal Health Train on health data. Its basic concept is that several stakeholders want to collaborate in data analysis, but do not want or are legally not allowed to share the data with one another – often due to privacy considerations. Rather than appointing a Trusted Third Party, the researchers develop an algorithm (in this analogy: the train) that visits each stakeholder (‘station’), analyses the data on site and goes to the next station with the analysis results, but without the data. The concept of distributed computation has been widely studied in the medical and computer sciences (Sun et al., 2018). Though having great potential in the social sciences, to date, no research has been done about its applications in this field. ODISSEI will examine the possibilities for use of distributed analytics techniques in the social sciences. For example, educational data which is highly federated and stored securely in hundreds of individual schools might be analysed without the need to collate and centralize data. The use of such an approach is not without risks and extensive testing and prototyping will be required. Other ODISSEI data collections with access and technical restrictions within the ODISSEI data facility architecture will also be identified and the potential of distributed computing will be examined along with potential data providers in collaboration with the Data Scout team in the Observatory.

Project team Distributed analysis techniques: Michel Dumontier (Maastricht University – Task leader).

Questions regarding Distributed analysis techniques? Contact Lucas van der Meer (ODISSEI Coordination Team).