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Advances in digital sensors, communications, computation, and storage have created huge collections of data, capturing information of value to business, science, government, and society. For example, search engine companies such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have created an entirely new business by capturing the information freely available on the World Wide Web and providing it to people in useful ways. These companies collect trillions of bytes of data every day and continually add new services such as satellite images, driving directions, and image retrieval. The societal benefits of these services are immeasurable, having transformed how people find and make use of information on a daily basis.
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