Data Science – Found Your Unicorn Yet?

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You’ll find much banter in the data science ecosystem these days about all the skill-sets required to effectively function as a data scientist. Some have gone so far as to label the perfect melange of experience and knowledge as a “Unicorn.”  This a reference to the recent discussions in the press and blogosphere indicating that Data Scientists are as hard to find as unicorns.  Many companies in search of their own unicorn place unrealistic job ads containing requirements that only a data science superhero can fulfill. Fortunately this mindset is changing where the search for a single Superman is wisely replaced with building a team of people with complimentary skills – a data science team. To be sure, some candidates might indeed posses expertise in computer science, statistics, machine learning, probability theory, engineering and domain knowledge. They are just very hard to find. Many, if not most, data scientist job descriptions don’t reflect this reality and so these positions go unfilled for a very long time. Here is a critique of a recent job ad posted by Facebook that exhibits the unicorn mentality.

The graphic below is a new take on the subject courtesy of Steve Geringer. Steve’s Data Science Venn Diagram v2.0 is a variation of the original from Drew Conway that’s so ubiquitous these days. Let’s hope that the central unicorn is replaced by “Data Science Team” one day soon.



Speak Your Mind



  1. Sorry but I can’t believe that there are still people thinking of THE data scientist (the data hero having all these fancy skills). This is just ridiculous. It is so obvious that you need a team to do get useful results.

  2. Wait what? says

    So you change a few words in the Venn Diagram and call it version 2.0? Also, by adding the set Data Scientce it’s no longer a Venn Diagram but an Euler Diagram. Just sayin’.

    • Hello, I think the main point of the article was to report on how someone revised the original Venn Diagram to highlight the unicorn’s lack of a basis in reality. The original is still the gold standard.