Big Data (BD) and Machine Learning (ML) -together with decision-making- are the key pillars of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The analysis of very large and heterogeneous amounts of data has the potential to revolutionize many areas of our lives, from the sciences, production, transport and energy, to political and social processes. However, dealing with BD and ML requires highly specialized knowledge and infrastructure and poses many challenges: it requires computer skills, mathematical skills, and engineering skills. It further demands a societal discussion regarding its ethical implications. BD and ML will disrupt all levels of society and will inspire completely new applications fueling innovation and strengthening the economy. The impact is already evident today: we entered the 'fourth paradigm' in the sciences and the economy is talking about the next industrial revolution.

Research in ML and BD has been an integral part of research activities at ZIB for 10 years now. With recent success stories and the strong growth of international research activities, ML and BD are becoming a cornerstone of our research strategy. In the fall of 2019, a new Berlin-based Competence Center, the “Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data” (BIFOLD), was founded that integrates the former Berlin Center for Machine Learning (BZML) and the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) into a new structure that is funded by the German federal ministry of research and education (BMBF). ZIB, having been part of both, BZML and BBDC, is part of the consortium supporting BIFOLD and will implement new research groups in this context. The main focus lies on data stream analysis, digital precision medicine, and learning dynamical laws from data.