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The explosive growth in data-storage capabilities and rapid network communication protocols has allowed organizations to collect and store a staggering amount of information on specific topics. These databases may be upwards of petrabyte size (1 x 10 15 bytes, or a billion megabytes) - a truly awe-inspiring amount of data! Such massive information stores are often found in research applications (such as biology, medicine, physics, and astronomy) and government agencies (such as the IRS, Department of Defense, and Department of Labor). They may also occur in business: for example, in insurance calculations for underwriting risk. Government agencies often need to share data, but different data schemas, interfaces, and communication techniques complicate these transfers.
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