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Is Data Science still on the rise in Germany? Answers from Google Trends

Big Data, AI and Machine Learning are the buzzwords of these days. Data nerds but also business executives and politicians are talking about related opportunities and potential risks. But since when is this the case and how have interests developed over time? We address this question using Google Trend data. 

Google searches reveal peoples interests

Google search queries have become a powerful tool to capture the moving interests in our society. Nowadays, the verb to google is a commonly used term in many languages for finding information on a question or a topic online. Google Trends offers insights into the 3.5 billion search queries the search engine is processing every day.
In order to analyze the development of interest in data science, we look at the interest in 5 data related keywords (Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Business Intelligence, Data Science, Machine Learning) and their trends since 2009. The first figure shows quarterly data of the development in Germany over the last 8 years. Using quarters instead of months (or even weeks) reduces the noise and trends are easier to spot. Importantly, Google Trends reports all numbers relative to the search volume of the most popular search term where 100 reflects the highest search volume in the observed time period. The data therefore allow to analyze trends and compare volumes for different queries, but they do not offer any insights on the absolute search traffic. 

Machine Learning on the rise

The graph shows a large increase in search queries for the term “Big Data”. It took much longer for other common terms in the field of data science to take off. Interestingly, Machine Learning became the top search query overtaking even Big Data in 2017 after a rapid growth over the last two years. Data Science and Artificial Intelligence seem to be on the rise but remain on a relatively low level.


How was the development in Germany compared to worldwide search queries? The figure below shows results for the same keywords based on global search queries. Overall, the trends are very similar. Big Data took off in 2012 and Machine Learning saw a rapid growth in the past years. An interesting difference is observable for Artificial Intelligence. While the trend in the last two years is comparable to the German case, the global level of AI search queries was high already in 2009.

Overall, the graphs confirm the general impression that data science not only was but still is on the rise. These days, especially Machine Learning sees a strong growth in interest and it is even outpacing the more generic search term Big Data.

Google Trends can be easily accessed through the browser. If you want to import the data directly to R, the gtrendsR package is very helpful. For Python, PyTrends allows for automated downloading.