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I'm pretty new to data science and want to get my hands dirty. What are some good publicly available data sets to play with?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a shopping-list question with no possibility of a single "correct" answer. – Neil Slater Sep 1 '15 at 7:13
  • Oops, I didn't know shopping list questions were frowned upon here. They are useful but I do understand that they become outdated quickly. I wonder if there is a better way to deal with them then to poo poo on them? – sebastianspiegel Sep 1 '15 at 17:43
  • There are R packages with sample data as UsingR or datasets, but maybe you need to investigate some topics of your interest: Economy, Stock market, wheather, public data, medical data... – Enrique Pérez Herrero Sep 1 '15 at 18:47
  • @sebastianspiegel: It's more that these kind of questions don't fit the site format. Some kinds of question just don't work here, and "please give me a list of resources" is one of the problem types. Personally, if I had a question like this, I'd first check with a few Google searches, then maybe try a more open-ended forum like Kaggle's "Getting Started". People here like to be helpful, so you already have enough links to keep yourself busy for more learning than you probably need. But the question itself will likely be closed and deleted over time. – Neil Slater Sep 1 '15 at 19:39
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    related : opendata.stackexchange.com/q/4420/263 – Joe Sep 3 '15 at 13:51
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I found hundreds of links to public data sets here:

https://www.quora.com/Where-can-I-find-large-datasets-open-to-the-public

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For health care claims, there's the United States CMS 2008-2010 Data Entrepreneurs’ Synthetic Public Use File (DE-SynPUF)

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check kaggle.com, it is a best place to start and experiment on data science

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There is a public chess set at http://www.top-5000.nl/pgn.htm. You can use it predict the relative piece values in chess and more.

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There are multiple datasets available in the UCI machine learning Repository. You can find this here

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It depends on your interest. As others already suggested www.kaggle.com is a good place to start if you want to solve well defined problems. There is also a good community there You can learn from them. But data here is mostly clean which is not the case usually in real life. I would also suggest http://www.drivendata.org/ and https://www.crowdanalytix.com/ if You like competitions.

If You just want to play around with your new skills find any data source about the topic You are interested in (like https://www.quandl.com/ for financial and economic data) and apply what you learn for any data there.

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as another user already said, this is entirely relative; on that note, it is still fun, and also a great way to learn about new datasets, etc. below are some of the more ridiculous datasets that i've come across, including my personal favorite, rat mapping in nyc!:

Rat Information Portal:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/environmental/disclaimer.shtml

Percentage of Adults 65+ Who Have Had All of Their Natural Teeth Extracted (by State):
http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/percent-who-had-all-teeth-extracted/

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