Although Big Data is a trending buzzword in both academia and the industry, its meaning is still shrouded by much conceptual vagueness. The term is used to describe a wide range of concepts: from the technological ability to store, aggregate, and process data, to the cultural shift that is pervasively invading business and society, both drowning in information overload. The lack of a formal definition has led research to evolve into multiple and inconsistent paths. Furthermore, the existing ambiguity among researchers and practitioners undermines an efficient development of the subject. In this paper we have reviewed the existing literature on Big Data and analyzed its previous definitions in order to pursue two results: first, to provide a summary of the key research areas related to the phenomenon, identifying emerging trends and suggesting opportunities for future development; second, to provide a consensual definition for Big Data, by synthesizing common themes of existing works and patterns in previous definitions.

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