100+ Interesting Data Sets for Statistics

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

—Jim Barksdale

I’m not too fond of the phrase “information age.” It sounds like someone sat down and was like, “Hey, there’s a ton of information today… what should we call it? How about the information age?”

First of all, that’s just lazy and, second of all, it doesn’t capture how overwhelming it all is, the sort of angst and helplessness you feel when confronted with… everything. Just all of it.

A phrase that captures it a bit better is “drinking from the firehose.” I haven’t ever tried to drink from an actual firehose, but the metaphor certainly seems apt.


Maybe instead of information age, we could call it the saturation age, you know, because our brains are full to bursting. Or maybe just the overload age. Or how about the age of inundation?

One thing is certain, anyways. Some of us are drowning in data, most of us are oblivious, and some lucky few are surfing on it.  We can do things that we couldn’t in the past (e.g. without Project Gutenberg, neither of my two analyses of the relationship between creativity and compression would have been possible.)

And that got me wondering: just what other interesting data sets are out there? As part of my research, I decided to put together this sort of guided tour, a curated list if you will — adding a bit of structure to the firehose’s deluge.

Here’s my attempt at making it all just a bit more manageable.

Interesting Data Sets





calories-in-a-human* The Reference Energy Disaggregation Data Set has about 500 GB of compressed data on home energy use. Obvious use candidates: improving home efficiency or creating a visualization of just where people’s energy bills are going.




Further Reading


  1. With apologies to JFK: “Let us seek not the Democrat link or the Republican link, but the right link.”

  1. Wikipedia says: “KOI-3284.01 is believed to be the most Earth like exoplanet to be found so far by the Kepler space probe. It is predicted to have a radius 1.5 times that of Earth’s. It is predicted to be located at the proper distance from the sun to sustain liquid water.”

  1. “The Texas Transportation Institute’s latest Urban Mobility Report puts the annual cost of congestion to the nation, including both travel delays and expenditures on fuel, at more than $100 billion.”

  1. If that’s not enough, there seems to be a fair amount of research around “murder topology” which is not, as you might naively expect, a super badass branch of mathematics, but rather concerned with the movement patterns of serial killers.

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