Human-Centered Data Science: An Introduction

Human Centered Data Science Flying Free by Cecilia Aragon

MIT Press, 2022

Human-Centered Data Science is available in print and Kindle editions.

Human-Centered Data Science: An Introduction

by Cecilia Aragon, Shion Guha, Marina Kogan, Michael Muller, Gina Neff

Human-centered data science is a new interdisciplinary field that draws from human-computer interaction, social science, statistics, and computational techniques. This book, written by founders of the field, introduces best practices for addressing the bias and inequality that may result from the automated collection, analysis, and distribution of very large datasets. It offers a brief and accessible overview of many common statistical and algorithmic data science techniques, explains human-centered approaches to data science problems, and presents practical guidelines and real-world case studies to help readers apply these methods.

The authors explain how data scientists’ choices are involved at every stage of the data science workflow—and show how a human-centered approach can enhance each one, by making the process more transparent, asking questions, and considering the social context of the data. They describe how tools from social science might be incorporated into data science practices, discuss different types of collaboration, and consider data storytelling through visualization. The book shows that data science practitioners can build rigorous and ethical algorithms and design projects that use cutting-edge computational tools and address social concerns.


“We cannot engage in data science that doesn’t account for power. Histories and systems of race and gender must be taught to data scientists, because we know terrible wrongs can occur in the making and use of data. This book is a must-read to expose the next generation of data scientists to the consequences of their work.”

—Safiya Umoja Noble, Author of Algorithms of Oppression

“By centering both the human-centric perspective and the data scientific perspective equally, the authors craft a comprehensive approach to human-centered data science. This book is a useful handbook to developing forward-thinking data science teams who will be prepared for the next iteration of machine learning.”

—Rumman Chowdhury, Director of ML Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability (META), Twitter

“This book’s unique approach recognizes that data science is a craft spun with subjective design choices. It will be invaluable to students and practitioners alike.”

—Chris Wiggins, Chief Data Scientist, New York Times