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For those used to having a smartwatch on their wrist, a cell phone in their pocket, and a tablet on their lap, it easily computes that computer science is UW–Madison’s most popular major. The UW has one of the nation’s oldest computer science programs, but it didn’t top the leaderboard for the highest number of degrees conferred until the 2019–2020 school year. It has continued its high-performance streak ever since. However, another School of Computer, Data, and Information Sciences (CDIS) major is booting up to take a byte out of its lead: data science. An interdisciplinary field that incorporates computer science, statistics, and math to find cutting-edge ways to solve a wide array of problems, data science has been the UW’s fastest-growing major since it was introduced in 2019. One critical area of this growing field is artificial intelligence (AI), the first focus area of Chancellor Mnookin’s newly announced Wisconsin Research, Innovation and Scholarly Excellence (RISE) Initiative. RISE will strategically increase the number of faculty and research projects across campus (including computer science, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and human ecology) with a focus on keeping AI human-centered and helping students navigate an AI-powered future. Data science and the rest of CDIS will have much more bandwidth to investigate these issues when their new state-of-the-art building opens in 2025.

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