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Springer Book on Seamless R and C++ Integration with Rcpp and Workshop on Rcpp #rstats

The talented Dirk Eddelbuettel has just announced that his new book is coming out this year. I would recommend this book for anyone trying to use R for analytics, Big Data or customized use cases especially if they have a need to speed up the computation times. Rcpp can speed up R by a huge magnitude, and thats because C++ comes closer to the metal.

If you are a business analyst who knows a bit of R, but always were intimidated by C++ programming, well this is the right how to do book for you.

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Interview Rob J Hyndman Forecasting Expert #rstats

Here is an interview with Prof Rob J Hyndman who has created many time series forecasting methods and authored books as well as R packages on the same.

Ajay -Describe your journey from being a student of science to a Professor. What were some key turning points along that journey?
 
Rob- I started a science honours degree at the University of Melbourne in 1985. By the end of 1985 I found myself simultaneously working as a statistical consultant (having completed all of one year of statistics courses!). For the next three years I studied mathematics, statistics and computer science at university, and tried to learn whatever I needed to in order to help my growing group of clients. Often we would cover things in classes that I’d already taught myself through my consulting work. That really set the trend for the rest of my career. I’ve always been an academic on the one hand, and a statistical consultant on the other. The consulting work has led me to learn a lot of things that I would not otherwise have come across, and has also encouraged me to focus on research problems that are of direct relevance to the clients I work with.
I never set out to be an academic. In fact, I thought that I would get a job in the business world as soon as I finished my degree. But once I completed the degree, I was offered a position as a statistical consultant within the University of Melbourne, helping researchers in various disciplines and doing some commercial work. After a year, I was getting bored doing only consulting, and I thought it would be interesting to do a PhD. I was lucky enough to be offered a generous scholarship which meant I was paid more to study than to continue working.
Again, I thought that I would probably go and get a job in the business world after I finished my PhD. But I finished it early and my scholarship was going to be cut off once I submitted my thesis. So instead, I offered to teach classes for free at the university and delayed submitting my thesis until the scholarship period ran out. That turned out to be a smart move because the university saw that I was a good teacher, and offered me a lecturing position starting immediately I submitted my thesis. So I sort of fell into an academic career.
I’ve kept up the consulting work part-time because it is interesting, and it gives me a little extra money. But I’ve also stayed an academic because I love the freedom to be able to work on anything that takes my fancy.
Ajay- Describe your upcoming book on Forecasting.
 
Rob- My first textbook on forecasting (with Makridakis and Wheelwright) was written a few years after I finished my PhD. It has been very popular, but it costs a lot of money (about $140 on Amazon). I estimate that I get about $1 for every book sold. The rest goes to the publisher (Wiley) and all they do is print, market and distribute it. I even typeset the whole thing myself and they print directly from the files I provided. It is now about 15 years since the book was written and it badly needs updating. I had a choice of writing a new edition with Wiley or doing something completely new. I decided to do a new one, largely because I didn’t want a publisher to make a lot of money out of students using my hard work.
It seems to me that students try to avoid buying textbooks and will search around looking for suitable online material instead. Often the online material is of very low quality and contains many errors.
As I wasn’t making much money on my textbook, and the facilities now exist to make online publishing very easy, I decided to try a publishing experiment. So my new textbook will be online and completely free. So far it is about 2/3 completed and is available at http://otexts.com/fpp/. I am hoping that my co-author (George Athanasopoulos) and I will finish it off before the end of 2012.
The book is intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to forecasting methods. We don’t attempt to discuss the theory much, but provide enough information for people to use the methods in practice. It is tied to the forecast package in R, and we provide code to show how to use the various forecasting methods.
The idea of online textbooks makes a lot of sense. They are continuously updated so if we find a mistake we fix it immediately. Also, we can add new sections, or update parts of the book, as required rather than waiting for a new edition to come out. We can also add richer content including video, dynamic graphics, etc.
For readers that want a print edition, we will be aiming to produce a print version of the book every year (available via Amazon).
I like the idea so much I’m trying to set up a new publishing platform (otexts.com) to enable other authors to do the same sort of thing. It is taking longer than I would like to make that happen, but probably next year we should have something ready for other authors to use.
Ajay- How can we make textbooks cheaper for students as well as compensate authors fairly
 
Rob- Well free is definitely cheaper, and there are a few businesses trying to make free online textbooks a reality. Apart from my own efforts, http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/ is producing a lot of free textbooks. And textbookrevolution.org is another great resource.
With otexts.com, we will compensate authors in two ways. First, the print versions of a book will be sold (although at a vastly cheaper rate than other commercial publishers). The royalties on print sales will be split 50/50 with the authors. Second, we plan to have some features of each book available for subscription only (e.g., solutions to exercises, some multimedia content, etc.). Again, the subscription fees will be split 50/50 with the authors.
Ajay- Suppose a person who used to use forecasting software from another company decides to switch to R. How easy and lucid do you think the current documentation on R website for business analytics practitioners such as these – in the corporate world.
 
Rob- The documentation on the R website is not very good for newcomers, but there are a lot of other R resources now available. One of the best introductions is Matloff’s “The Art of R Programming”. Provided someone has done some programming before (e.g., VBA, python or java), learning R is a breeze. The people who have trouble are those who have only ever used menu interfaces such as Excel. Then they are not only learning R, but learning to think about computing in a different way from what they are used to, and that can be tricky. However, it is well worth it. Once you know how to code, you can do so much more.  I wish some basic programming was part of every business and statistics degree.
If you are working in a particular area, then it is often best to find a book that uses R in that discipline. For example, if you want to do forecasting, you can use my book (otexts.com/fpp/). Or if you are using R for data visualization, get hold of Hadley Wickham’s ggplot2 book.
Ajay- In a long and storied career- What is the best forecast you ever made ? and the worst?
 
 Rob- Actually, my best work is not so much in making forecasts as in developing new forecasting methodology. I’m very proud of my forecasting models for electricity demand which are now used for all long-term planning of electricity capacity in Australia (see  http://robjhyndman.com/papers/peak-electricity-demand/  for the details). Also, my methods for population forecasting (http://robjhyndman.com/papers/stochastic-population-forecasts/ ) are pretty good (in my opinion!). These methods are now used by some national governments (but not Australia!) for their official population forecasts.
Of course, I’ve made some bad forecasts, but usually when I’ve tried to do more than is reasonable given the available data. One of my earliest consulting jobs involved forecasting the sales for a large car manufacturer. They wanted forecasts for the next fifteen years using less than ten years of historical data. I should have refused as it is unreasonable to forecast that far ahead using so little data. But I was young and naive and wanted the work. So I did the forecasts, and they were clearly outside the company’s (reasonable) expectations, and they then refused to pay me. Lesson learned. It’s better to refuse work than do it poorly.

Probably the biggest impact I’ve had is in helping the Australian government forecast the national health budget. In 2001 and 2002, they had underestimated health expenditure by nearly $1 billion in each year which is a lot of money to have to find, even for a national government. I was invited to assist them in developing a new forecasting method, which I did. The new method has forecast errors of the order of plus or minus $50 million which is much more manageable. The method I developed for them was the basis of the ETS models discussed in my 2008 book on exponential smoothing (www.exponentialsmoothing.net)

. And now anyone can use the method with the ets() function in the forecast package for R.
About-
Rob J Hyndman is Pro­fessor of Stat­ist­ics in the Depart­ment of Eco­no­met­rics and Busi­ness Stat­ist­ics at Mon­ash Uni­ver­sity and Dir­ector of the Mon­ash Uni­ver­sity Busi­ness & Eco­nomic Fore­cast­ing Unit. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Inter­na­tional Journal of Fore­cast­ing and a Dir­ector of the Inter­na­tional Insti­tute of Fore­casters. Rob is the author of over 100 research papers in stat­ist­ical sci­ence. In 2007, he received the Moran medal from the Aus­tralian Academy of Sci­ence for his con­tri­bu­tions to stat­ist­ical research, espe­cially in the area of stat­ist­ical fore­cast­ing. For 25 years, Rob has main­tained an act­ive con­sult­ing prac­tice, assist­ing hun­dreds of com­pan­ies and organ­iz­a­tions. His recent con­sult­ing work has involved fore­cast­ing elec­tri­city demand, tour­ism demand, the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment health budget and case volume at a US call centre.

Interview John Myles White , Machine Learning for Hackers

Here is an interview with one of the younger researchers  and rock stars of the R Project, John Myles White,  co-author of Machine Learning for Hackers.

Ajay- What inspired you guys to write Machine Learning for Hackers. What has been the public response to the book. Are you planning to write a second edition or a next book?

John-We decided to write Machine Learning for Hackers because there were so many people interested in learning more about Machine Learning who found the standard textbooks a little difficult to understand, either because they lacked the mathematical background expected of readers or because it wasn’t clear how to translate the mathematical definitions in those books into usable programs. Most Machine Learning books are written for audiences who will not only be using Machine Learning techniques in their applied work, but also actively inventing new Machine Learning algorithms. The amount of information needed to do both can be daunting, because, as one friend pointed out, it’s similar to insisting that everyone learn how to build a compiler before they can start to program. For most people, it’s better to let them try out programming and get a taste for it before you teach them about the nuts and bolts of compiler design. If they like programming, they can delve into the details later.

We once said that Machine Learning for Hackers  is supposed to be a chemistry set for Machine Learning and I still think that’s the right description: it’s meant to get readers excited about Machine Learning and hopefully expose them to enough ideas and tools that they can start to explore on their own more effectively. It’s like a warmup for standard academic books like Bishop’s.
The public response to the book has been phenomenal. It’s been amazing to see how many people have bought the book and how many people have told us they found it helpful. Even friends with substantial expertise in statistics have said they’ve found a few nuggets of new information in the book, especially regarding text analysis and social network analysis — topics that Drew and I spend a lot of time thinking about, but are not thoroughly covered in standard statistics and Machine Learning  undergraduate curricula.
I hope we write a second edition. It was our first book and we learned a ton about how to write at length from the experience. I’m about to announce later this week that I’m writing a second book, which will be a very short eBook for O’Reilly. Stay tuned for details.

Ajay-  What are the key things that a potential reader can learn from this book?

John- We cover most of the nuts and bolts of introductory statistics in our book: summary statistics, regression and classification using linear and logistic regression, PCA and k-Nearest Neighbors. We also cover topics that are less well known, but are as important: density plots vs. histograms, regularization, cross-validation, MDS, social network analysis and SVM’s. I hope a reader walks away from the book having a feel for what different basic algorithms do and why they work for some problems and not others. I also hope we do just a little to shift a future generation of modeling culture towards regularization and cross-validation.

Ajay- Describe your journey as a science student up till your Phd. What are you current research interests and what initiatives have you done with them?

John-As an undergraduate I studied math and neuroscience. I then took some time off and came back to do a Ph.D. in psychology, focusing on mathematical modeling of both the brain and behavior. There’s a rich tradition of machine learning and statistics in psychology, so I got increasingly interested in ML methods during my years as a grad student. I’m about to finish my Ph.D. this year. My research interests all fall under one heading: decision theory. I want to understand both how people make decisions (which is what psychology teaches us) and how they should make decisions (which is what statistics and ML teach us). My thesis is focused on how people make decisions when there are both short-term and long-term consequences to be considered. For non-psychologists, the classic example is probably the explore-exploit dilemma. I’ve been working to import more of the main ideas from stats and ML into psychology for modeling how real people handle that trade-off. For psychologists, the classic example is the Marshmallow experiment. Most of my research work has focused on the latter: what makes us patient and how can we measure patience?

Ajay- How can academia and private sector solve the shortage of trained data scientists (assuming there is one)?

John- There’s definitely a shortage of trained data scientists: most companies are finding it difficult to hire someone with the real chops needed to do useful work with Big Data. The skill set required to be useful at a company like Facebook or Twitter is much more advanced than many people realize, so I think it will be some time until there are undergraduates coming out with the right stuff. But there’s huge demand, so I’m sure the market will clear sooner or later.

The changes that are required in academia to prepare students for this kind of work are pretty numerous, but the most obvious required change is that quantitative people need to be learning how to program properly, which is rare in academia, even in many CS departments. Writing one-off programs that no one will ever have to reuse and that only work on toy data sets doesn’t prepare you for working with huge amounts of messy data that exhibit shifting patterns. If you need to learn how to program seriously before you can do useful work, you’re not very valuable to companies who need employees that can hit the ground running. The companies that have done best in building up data teams, like LinkedIn, have learned to train people as they come in since the proper training isn’t typically available outside those companies.
Of course, on the flipside, the people who do know how to program well need to start learning more about theory and need to start to have a better grasp of basic mathematical models like linear and logistic regressions. Lots of CS students seem not to enjoy their theory classes, but theory really does prepare you for thinking about what you can learn from data. You may not use automata theory if you work at Foursquare, but you will need to be able to reason carefully and analytically. Doing math is just like lifting weights: if you’re not good at it right now, you just need to dig in and get yourself in shape.
About-
John Myles White is a Phd Student in  Ph.D. student in the Princeton Psychology Department, where he studies human decision-making both theoretically and experimentally. Along with the political scientist Drew Conway, he is  the author of a book published by O’Reilly Media entitled “Machine Learning for Hackers”, which is meant to introduce experienced programmers to the machine learning toolkit. He is also working with Mark Hansenon a book for laypeople about exploratory data analysis.John is the lead maintainer for several R packages, including ProjectTemplate and log4r.

(TIL he has played in several rock bands!)

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You can read more in his own words at his blog at http://www.johnmyleswhite.com/about/
He can be contacted via social media at Google Plus at https://plus.google.com/109658960610931658914 or twitter at twitter.com/johnmyleswhite/

How to learn Hacking Part 2

Now that you have read the basics here at http://www.decisionstats.com/how-to-learn-to-be-a-hacker-easily/ (please do read this before reading the below)

 

Here is a list of tutorials that you should study (in order of ease)

1) LEARN BASICS – enough to get you a job maybe if that’s all you wanted.

http://www.offensive-security.com/metasploit-unleashed/Main_Page

2) READ SOME MORE-

Lena’s Reverse Engineering Tutorial-“Use Google.com  for finding the Tutorial

Lena’s Reverse Engineering tutorial. It includes 36 parts of individual cracking techniques and will teach you the basics of protection bypassing

01. Olly + assembler + patching a basic reverseme
02. Keyfiling the reverseme + assembler
03. Basic nag removal + header problems
04. Basic + aesthetic patching
05. Comparing on changes in cond jumps, animate over/in, breakpoints
06. “The plain stupid patching method”, searching for textstrings
07. Intermediate level patching, Kanal in PEiD
08. Debugging with W32Dasm, RVA, VA and offset, using LordPE as a hexeditor
09. Explaining the Visual Basic concept, introduction to SmartCheck and configuration
10. Continued reversing techniques in VB, use of decompilers and a basic anti-anti-trick
11. Intermediate patching using Olly’s “pane window”
12. Guiding a program by multiple patching.
13. The use of API’s in software, avoiding doublechecking tricks
14. More difficult schemes and an introduction to inline patching
15. How to study behaviour in the code, continued inlining using a pointer
16. Reversing using resources
17. Insights and practice in basic (self)keygenning
18. Diversion code, encryption/decryption, selfmodifying code and polymorphism
19. Debugger detected and anti-anti-techniques
20. Packers and protectors : an introduction
21. Imports rebuilding
22. API Redirection
23. Stolen bytes
24. Patching at runtime using loaders from lena151 original
25. Continued patching at runtime & unpacking armadillo standard protection
26. Machine specific loaders, unpacking & debugging armadillo
27. tElock + advanced patching
28. Bypassing & killing server checks
29. Killing & inlining a more difficult server check
30. SFX, Run Trace & more advanced string searching
31. Delphi in Olly & DeDe
32. Author tricks, HIEW & approaches in inline patching
33. The FPU, integrity checks & loader versus patcher
34. Reversing techniques in packed software & a S&R loader for ASProtect
35. Inlining inside polymorphic code
36. Keygenning

If you want more free training – hang around this website

http://www.owasp.org/index.php/Cheat_Sheets

OWASP Cheat Sheet Series

Draft OWASP Cheat Sheets

3) SPEND SOME MONEY on TRAINING

http://www.corelan-training.com/index.php/training/corelan-live/

Course overview

Module 1 – The x86 environment

  • System Architecture
  • Windows Memory Management
  • Registers
  • Introduction to Assembly
  • The stack

Module 2 – The exploit developer environment

  • Setting up the exploit developer lab
  • Using debuggers and debugger plugins to gather primitives

Module 3 – Saved Return Pointer Overwrite

  • Functions
  • Saved return pointer overwrites
  • Stack cookies

Module 4 – Abusing Structured Exception Handlers

  • Abusing exception handler overwrites
  • Bypassing Safeseh

Module 5 – Pointer smashing

  • Function pointers
  • Data/object pointers
  • vtable/virtual functions

Module 6 – Off-by-one and integer overflows

  • Off-by-one
  • Integer overflows

Module 7 – Limited buffers

  • Limited buffers, shellcode splitting

Module 8 – Reliability++ & reusability++

  • Finding and avoiding bad characters
  • Creative ways to deal with character set limitations

Module 9 – Fun with Unicode

  • Exploiting Unicode based overflows
  • Writing venetian alignment code
  • Creating and Using venetian shellcode

Module 10 – Heap Spraying Fundamentals

  • Heap Management and behaviour
  • Heap Spraying for Internet Explorer 6 and 7

Module 11 – Egg Hunters

  • Using and tweaking Egg hunters
  • Custom egghunters
  • Using Omelet egghunters
  • Egghunters in a WoW64 environment

Module 12 – Shellcoding

  • Building custom shellcode from scratch
  • Understanding existing shellcode
  • Writing portable shellcode
  • Bypassing Antivirus

Module 13 – Metasploit Exploit Modules

  • Writing exploits for the Metasploit Framework
  • Porting exploits to the Metasploit Framework

Module 14 – ASLR

  • Bypassing ASLR

Module 15 – W^X

  • Bypassing NX/DEP
  • Return Oriented Programming / Code Reuse (ROP) )

Module 16 – Advanced Heap Spraying

  • Heap Feng Shui & heaplib
  • Precise heap spraying in modern browsers (IE8 & IE9, Firefox 13)

Module 17 – Use After Free

  • Exploiting Use-After-Free conditions

Module 18 – Windows 8

  • Windows 8 Memory Protections and Bypass
TRAINING SCHEDULES AT

ALSO GET CERTIFIED http://www.offensive-security.com/information-security-training/penetration-testing-with-backtrack/ ($950 cost)

the syllabus is here at

http://www.offensive-security.com/documentation/penetration-testing-with-backtrack.pdf

4) HANG AROUND OTHER HACKERS

At http://attrition.org/attrition/

or The Noir  Hat Conferences-

http://blackhat.com/html/bh-us-12/training/bh-us-12-training_complete.html

or read this website

http://software-security.sans.org/developer-how-to/

5) GET A DEGREE

Yes it is possible

 

See http://web.jhu.edu/jhuisi/

The Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute (JHUISI) is the University’s focal point for research and education in information security, assurance and privacy.

Scholarship Information

 

The Information Security Institute is now accepting applications for the Department of Defense’s Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP).  This scholarship includes full tuition, a living stipend, books and health insurance. In return each student recipient must work for a DoD agency at a competitive salary for six months for every semester funded. The scholarship is open to American citizens only.

http://web.jhu.edu/jhuisi/mssi/index.html

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SECURITY INFORMATICS PROGRAM

The flagship educational experience offered by Johns Hopkins University in the area of information security and assurance is represented by the Master of Science in Security Informatics degree.  Over thirty courses are available in support of this unique and innovative graduate program.

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Disclaimer- I havent done any of these things- This is just a curated list from Quora  so I am open to feedback.

You use this at your own risk of conscience ,local legal jurisdictions and your own legal liability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google introduces Google Play

Some nice new features from the big G men from Mountain view. Google Play- for movies, games, apps, music and books. Nice to see entertainment is back on Google’s priority.

 

See this to read more

https://play.google.com/about/

When will I get Google Play?

About Google Play

Q: What is Google Play?
A: Google Play is a new digital content experience from Google where you can find your favorite music, movies, books, and Android apps and games. It’s your entertainment hub: you can access it from the web or from your Android device or even TV, and all your content is instantly available across all of these devices.

Q: What is your strategy with Google Play?
A: Our goal with Google Play is to bring together all your favorite content in one place that you can access across your devices. Specifically, digital content is fundamental to the mobile experience, so bringing all of this content together in one place for users makes the Android platform even more compelling. We’re also simplifying digital content for Google users – you can go to the Google Play website on your desktop and purchase and experience the latest movies, music and books. With Google Play, we’re giving you a simpler way to get your digital content.

Q: What will the experience be for users? What will happen to my existing account?
A: All content and apps in your existing account will remain in your account, but will transition to Google Play. On your device, the Android Market app icon will become the Google Play store icon. You’ll see “Play Store.” For the movies, books and music apps, you’ll begin to see Play versions of these as well, such as “Play Music,” and “Play Movies.”

Q: When will I get Google Play? What markets is this available in?
A: We’ll be rolling out Google Play globally starting today. On the web, Google Play will be live today. On devices, it will take a few days for the Android Market app to update to the Google Play Store app. The music, books and movies apps will also receive an update today.
Around the globe, Google Play will include Android apps and games. In countries where we have already launched music, books or movies, you will see those categories available in Google Play, too.

Q: I live outside the US. When will I get the books, music or movies verticals? I only see Android apps and games?
A: We want to bring different content categories to as many countries as possible. We’ve already launched movies and books in several countries outside the U.S. and will continue to do so overtime, but we don’t have a specific timeline to share.

Q: What types of content are available in my country?

  • Paid Apps: Available in these countries
  • Movies: Available in US, UK, Canada, and Japan
  • eBooks: Available in US, UK, Canada, and Australia
  • Music: Available in US

 

Q: Does this mean Google Music and the Google eBookstore will cease to exist? What about my account?
A: Both Google Music and the Google eBookstore are now part of Google Play. Your music and your books, including anything you bought, are still there, available to you in Google Play and accessible through your Google account.

Q: Where did my Google eBooks books go? Will I still have access to them?
A: Your books are now part of Google Play. Your books are still there, available to you in your Google Play library and accessible through your Google account.

Q: I don’t use an Android phone, can I still use Google Play?
A: Yes. Google Play is available on any computer with a modern browser at play.google.com. On the web, you can browse and buy books, movies and music. You can read books on the Google Play web reader, listen to music on your computer or watch movies online. Your digital content is all stored in the cloud, so you can access from anywhere using your Google Account.
We’ve also created ways to experience your music and books on other platforms such as the Google Books iOS app.

Q: Why do I not see Google Play yet on my device?
A: Please see our help center article on this here.

Q: How can I contact Google Play consumer support?
A: You can call or email our team here.

Book Review- Machine Learning for Hackers

This is review of the fashionably named book Machine Learning for Hackers by Drew Conway and John Myles White (O’Reilly ). The book is about hacking code in R.

 

The preface introduces the reader to the authors conception of what machine learning and hacking is all about. If the name of the book was machine learning for business analytsts or data miners, I am sure the content would have been unchanged though the popularity (and ambiguity) of the word hacker can often substitute for its usefulness. Indeed the many wise and learned Professors of statistics departments through out the civilized world would be mildly surprised and bemused by their day to day activities as hacking or teaching hackers. The book follows a case study and example based approach and uses the GGPLOT2 package within R programming almost to the point of ignoring any other native graphics system based in R. It can be quite useful for the aspiring reader who wishes to understand and join the booming market for skilled talent in statistical computing.

Chapter 1 has a very useful set of functions for data cleansing and formatting. It walks you through the basics of formatting based on dates and conditions, missing value and outlier treatment and using ggplot package in R for graphical analysis. The case study used is an Infochimps dataset with 60,000 recordings of UFO sightings. The case study is lucid, and done at a extremely helpful pace illustrating the powerful and flexible nature of R functions that can be used for data cleansing.The chapter mentions text editors and IDEs but fails to list them in a tabular format, while listing several other tables like Packages used in the book. It also jumps straight from installation instructions to functions in R without getting into the various kinds of data types within R or specifying where these can be referenced from. It thus assumes a higher level of basic programming understanding for the reader than the average R book.

Chapter 2 discusses data exploration, and has a very clear set of diagrams that explain the various data summary operations that are performed routinely. This is an innovative approach and will help students or newcomers to the field of data analysis. It introduces the reader to type determination functions, as well different kinds of encoding. The introduction to creating functions is quite elegant and simple , and numerical summary methods are explained adequately. While the chapter explains data exploration with the help of various histogram options in ggplot2 , it fails to create a more generic framework for data exploration or rules to assist the reader in visual data exploration in non standard data situations. While the examples are very helpful for a reader , there needs to be slightly more depth to step out of the example and into a framework for visual data exploration (or references for the same). A couple of case studies however elaborately explained cannot do justice to the vast field of data exploration and especially visual data exploration.

Chapter 3 discussed binary classification for the specific purpose for spam filtering using a dataset from SpamAssassin. It introduces the reader to the naïve Bayes classifier and the principles of text mining suing the tm package in R. Some of the example codes could have been better commented for easier readability in the book. Overall it is quite a easy tutorial for creating a naïve Bayes classifier even for beginners.

Chapter 4 discusses the issues in importance ranking and creating recommendation systems specifically in the case of ordering email messages into important and not important. It introduces the useful grepl, gsub, strsplit, strptime ,difftime and strtrim functions for parsing data. The chapter further introduces the reader to the concept of log (and affine) transformations in a lucid and clear way that can help even beginners learn this powerful transformation concept. Again the coding within this chapter is sparsely commented which can cause difficulties to people not used to learn reams of code. ( it may have been part of the code attached with the book, but I am reading an electronic book and I did not find an easy way to go back and forth between the code and the book). The readability of the chapters would be further enhanced by the use of flow charts explaining the path and process followed than overtly verbose textual descriptions running into multiple pages. The chapters are quite clearly written, but a helpful visual summary can help in both revising the concepts and elucidate the approach taken further.A suggestion for the authors could be to compile the list of useful functions they introduce in this book as a sort of reference card (or Ref Card) for R Hackers or atleast have a chapter wise summary of functions, datasets and packages used.

Chapter 5 discusses linear regression , and it is a surprising and not very good explanation of regression theory in the introduction to regression. However the chapter makes up in practical example what it oversimplifies in theory. The chapter on regression is not the finest chapter written in this otherwise excellent book. Part of this is because of relative lack of organization- correlation is explained after linear regression is explained. Once again the lack of a function summary and a process flow diagram hinders readability and a separate section on regression metrics that help make a regression result good or not so good could be a welcome addition. Functions introduced include lm.

Chapter 6 showcases Generalized Additive Model (GAM) and Polynomial Regression, including an introduction to singularity and of over-fitting. Functions included in this chapter are transform, and poly while the package glmnet is also used here. The chapter also introduces the reader formally to the concept of cross validation (though examples of cross validation had been introduced in earlier chapters) and regularization. Logistic regression is also introduced at the end in this chapter.

Chapter 7 is about optimization. It describes error metric in a very easy to understand way. It creates a grid by using nested loops for various values of intercept and slope of a regression equation and computing the sum of square of errors. It then describes the optim function in detail including how it works and it’s various parameters. It introduces the curve function. The chapter then describes ridge regression including definition and hyperparameter lamda. The use of optim function to optimize the error in regression is useful learning for the aspiring hacker. Lastly it describes a case study of breaking codes using the simplistic Caesar cipher, a lexical database and the Metropolis method. Functions introduced in this chapter include .Machine$double.eps .

Chapter 8 deals with Principal Component Analysis and unsupervised learning. It uses the ymd function from lubridate package to convert string to date objects, and the cast function from reshape package to further manipulate the structure of data. Using the princomp functions enables PCA in R.The case study creates a stock market index and compares the results with the Dow Jones index.

Chapter 9 deals with Multidimensional Scaling as well as clustering US senators on the basis of similarity in voting records on legislation .It showcases matrix multiplication using %*% and also the dist function to compute distance matrix.

Chapter 10 has the subject of K Nearest Neighbors for recommendation systems. Packages used include class ,reshape and and functions used include cor, function and log. It also demonstrates creating a custom kNN function for calculating Euclidean distance between center of centroids and data. The case study used is the R package recommendation contest on Kaggle. Overall a simplistic introduction to creating a recommendation system using K nearest neighbors, without getting into any of the prepackaged packages within R that deal with association analysis , clustering or recommendation systems.

Chapter 11 introduces the reader to social network analysis (and elements of graph theory) using the example of Erdos Number as an interesting example of social networks of mathematicians. The example of Social Graph API by Google for hacking are quite new and intriguing (though a bit obsolete by changes, and should be rectified in either the errata or next edition) . However there exists packages within R that should be atleast referenced or used within this chapter (like TwitteR package that use the Twitter API and ROauth package for other social networks). Packages used within this chapter include Rcurl, RJSONIO, and igraph packages of R and functions used include rbind and ifelse. It also introduces the reader to the advanced software Gephi. The last example is to build a recommendation engine for whom to follow in Twitter using R.

Chapter 12 is about model comparison and introduces the concept of Support Vector Machines. It uses the package e1071 and shows the svm function. It also introduces the concept of tuning hyper parameters within default algorithms . A small problem in understanding the concepts is the misalignment of diagram pages with the relevant code. It lastly concludes with using mean square error as a method for comparing models built with different algorithms.

 

Overall the book is a welcome addition in the library of books based on R programming language, and the refreshing nature of the flow of material and the practicality of it’s case studies make this a recommended addition to both academic and corporate business analysts trying to derive insights by hacking lots of heterogeneous data.

Have a look for yourself at-
http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920018483.do

Tantra Anjuna

While vacationing in Goa, I came across a marvelous place on Anjuna Beach called Tantra. It is basically a beach side restaurant cum hotel, but what makes it unique is the use of natural building materials like wooden poles tied together with ropes to create a magnificent and comfortable ambiance . The decor is artistic without being too loud, a big golden statue of the Buddha greets people as they come in , the music is Sanskrit and Hindi hymns , there are books left casually around for the reader. There are statues of Ganesha and a Shiva -Linga, evening lighting is shielded lighting, and dinner is over candle-lights and the manager Karan Singh has basically created a sort of mini-naturalistic paradise. It is basically India as it was meant to be, before we turned weirdly capitalistic.

 

An amazing thing at the Tantra is the pricing, they are very much a fit for the traveler who does not want to stick to expensive hotels, and does not want to compromise on hygiene. Tantra is clean, very healthy living, and you go to sleep with the sound and sight of the Ocean, and are woken gently by the Sun.

 

If you are in the mood to travel to India, you should travel to Goa, and in Goa, Tantra , Anjuna beach is one of the finest places you can have an authentic travel experience.

 

Location- Tantra is located almost at the heart of Anjuna Beach, it is just ahead of the famous Anjuna Famous Market. To get to Anjuna, you can take a taxi or Bus from Mapusa, or Margoa. To reach Margoa, you can take an air-conditioned Volvo or non-AC bus from Mumbai (that would be the best way to travel)

 

About Tantra- A great place in Anjuna, Goa  with a difference.

Set next to the flea market, surrounded by unique antique furniture and art. Experience the serene and chilled out space. Great place to watch the sunrise and sunset. Swing by.
Contact Info

TANTRA BEACH SHACK AND HUTS

Email:

singh87@yahoo.com

Website:
https://tantraanjuna.wordpress.com/
Office: +919970444637
Location:
Flea Market, Anjuna Beach, Goa, India

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