You would think that the interest in data science and it’s largest sub-discipline, machine-learning, must have been rising steadily through the years. Well, if Google Trends is to be trusted, that is not the case. See the bowl shaped curves in the graph above. “Data Science” is in blue and “Machine Learning” is in red.
This elicited some investigation. It turns out that the phrase “data science” has been in use for over thirty years, but real use of the term started in about 2001. The first journal with that phrase in its name – Data Science Journal – started in 2002, roughly at the beginning of the time series in the graph. Perhaps that activity created some buzz that waned, thus explaining the early decline in interest. But that doesn’t explain a similar bowl shaped curve for the phrase “machine learning”. To explain that, we added to the trend graph another phrase – “big data” – in yellow. See the new graph below. Note that the scale is not absolute in any sense. The graph only shows relative interest.
So it seems that renewed and rising interest in the two phrases “data science” and “machine learning” can be tied to the sudden explosion in interest in the much more distinctly new phrase “big data” which makes sense since many big data projects also have a data science component to them.