I'm writing a thesis, mostly about computer science (cloud computing, mostly). In the introduction I'd like to give the reader a vague idea about how much data we are talking about (4.5 TB if I remember correctly)

Now my question is, how would I best say this? I would prefer not to start with (semi) technical terms, mostly since it's in the introduction. Currently I have:

Company X has a medium to large amount of data at their disposal.

Though this is debatable. For me 4.5TB is pretty damn huge, but for a multinational company that amount might be peanuts. If I do say the exact amount in the intro, I feel obliged to explain this, since not everybody knows what 4.5TB means or what it could contain.

  • Ah! But if it IS peanuts to them and you claim to have "a medium to large amount", then they could think you're guilty of misleading. Please clarify who the introduction is for.
    – Tushar Raj
    May 9, 2015 at 13:22
  • Well according to the professors, an introduction should give one a good idea as to what the paper will be about, without having to consult other sources. So if I mention any specific data, I'll have to explain it so one's mother/father can understand it. Company X is a multinational itself, with a modest, but experienced IT team.
    – GillesDV
    May 9, 2015 at 13:46
  • 4
    Can you create an analogy: "... collected an amount of data equivalent to about half the size of the library of congress"? Something like that.
    – Dan Bron
    May 9, 2015 at 13:53
  • Mmhm, yes, that does sound like a good solution. Especially if I add a citation, it gives readers an idea what I'm trying to say. My hard drive has enough room for 500 movies Thank you.
    – GillesDV
    May 9, 2015 at 13:58
  • @GillesDV: Bear in mind, though, that non-techies don't have a lot of sense of proportion where data is concerned. They may fail to appreciate the divide between 500 books' worth and 500 movies' worth. If you want to impress them, you might wanna stick with Dan Bron's original suggestion.
    – Tushar Raj
    May 9, 2015 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


4.5 Tb is tiny - it's a total storage space of a powerful laptop with 2 HDD.

If you mention 'large amount', this gives absolutely no idea and is very arbitrary.

Big data

Altough being arbitrary too, big data is a well-known technical term associated with cloud computing and large amounts of data, both structured and unstructured.

According to the article, 'Big Data Cloud Database & Computing' on Qubole.com:

The rise of cloud computing and cloud data stores have been a precursor and facilitator to the emergence of big data. Cloud computing is the commodification of computing time and data storage by means of standardized technologies.

Webopedia describes big data in this way:

Big data is a buzzword, or catch-phrase, used to describe a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques. In most enterprise scenarios the volume of data is too big or it moves too fast or it exceeds current processing capacity.

I would suggest this wording for the introduction:

Company X deals with cloud storage and big data processing.

This wording will precisely describe the company's business without detailing on the amount of data.

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