2014 A Year’s Odyssey

Some updates for regular readers of my blog here-

1) I completed 116 posts in Decisionstats.com in 2014 (TILL DEC 20) as compared to 174 posts in 2013

2) 2013 gave us 151,563 views with 106,851 visitors. 2014 gave us 139,069 views with 96,679 visitors (till Dec 20). Thus  even though quantity of posts was down by 33% approx, readership was down only by 5% approx. This is however the first time that it is down in 7 years of operation.

3) I finished one more book after the first one. This explains why there was a slight lack of attention.

4) Rest of detailed stats will be shared soon.

5) After 767 posts and 4 years and 210,000 views I wound up my poetry blog .

6) I will be focusing more on prose writing not including my technology writing. This includes using this software to build audio books and collaborating with more people and more selflessly to write more and better.

7) I discovered I am occasionally an arrogant jerk. Fortunately I get smoother at hiding that as I grow older. Faking maturity is also something that comes easier as you age and gray.

8) Twitter will be on and off as in previous years. I wound up my Facebook account. LinkedIn account has 11,000 connections. Google Plus has 1356 followers and 757000 views. I think I will focus on github and IRC for a change in 2014. Rest of social media is a waste of time and energy (and ergo a waste of money).

9) I am currently in more writing projects but will be updating you soon when I have more concrete things.

10) Consulting is going to be way up in 2015 compared to 2014-2013 as  I take a pause between books ( or not). So will be teaching , interns and conferences. I will be writing better and as much as possible to continue to make your time on this site productive.

Merry Christmas and Have a Happy Holiday.



Cloud Computing for Christmas

My second book – R for Cloud Computing : An Approach for Data Scientists is now ready for sale ( ebook). Softcover should be available within a month. Some of you have already booked an online review copy. It has taken me 2 years to write this book, and as always I accept all feedback on how to be a better writer.

I would like to especially thank Hannah Bracken of Springer Publishing for this.

and I dedicate this book to my 7 year son Kush.


Screenshot from 2014-12-10 10:23:45

Everything that is good in me, come from your love, Kush

Top 7 Business Strategy Models

UPDATED POST- Some Models I use for Business Strategy- to analyze the huge reams of qualitative and uncertain data that business generates. I have added a bonus the Business canvas Model (number 2)

  1. Porters 5 forces Model-To analyze industries
  2. Business Canvas
  3. BCG Matrix- To analyze Product Portfolios
  4. Porters Diamond Model- To analyze locations
  5. McKinsey 7 S Model-To analyze teams
  6. Gernier Theory- To analyze growth of organization
  7. Herzberg Hygiene Theory- To analyze soft aspects of individuals
  8. Marketing Mix Model- To analyze marketing mix.

Continue reading “Top 7 Business Strategy Models”

Scribd Analytics

I really liked Scribd Analytics feature (and that we have racked up 3200 reads in 11 months for Poets and Hackers). I think Google Docs /Drive should really incorporate more Scribd like document sharing features including social (now that Slideshare is off the market for a relatively cheap $119m) and turn on analytics by default

I really liked the heatmap on the document feature in the second screenshot.

Anyways nice to see someone out there cares for Poets &….



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.
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!)

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/

Decisionstats.com is back from a dDOS

  1. Servers were okay, it was the DNS server that got swamped.
  2. I am sorry for the downtime- hopefully you didnt even notice
  3. I have faced challenges like domain name hijacking, sql injection , malicious WP plugins and thats why shifted to a professional hosting. I stand by my vendors and their professional judgement, moving away would mean the hackers won.
  4. This was very clever to swamp the DNS provider- my compliments to the tech talent behind this.
  5. You would think that every webmaster would have a back up plan in case his site went dDOS, but surprisingly even corporate websites dont have a back up (under attack) plan


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