R for Business Analytics- Book by Ajay Ohri

So the cover art is ready, and if you are a reviewer, you can reserve online copies of the book I have been writing for past 2 years. Special thanks to my mentors, detractors, readers and students- I owe you a beer!

You can also go here-



R for Business Analytics

R for Business Analytics

Ohri, Ajay

2012, 2012, XVI, 300 p. 208 illus., 162 in color.


ISBN 978-1-4614-4342-1

Due: September 30, 2012


approx. 44,95 €
  • Covers full spectrum of R packages related to business analytics
  • Step-by-step instruction on the use of R packages, in addition to exercises, references, interviews and useful links
  • Background information and exercises are all applied to practical business analysis topics, such as code examples on web and social media analytics, data mining, clustering and regression models

R for Business Analytics looks at some of the most common tasks performed by business analysts and helps the user navigate the wealth of information in R and its 4000 packages.  With this information the reader can select the packages that can help process the analytical tasks with minimum effort and maximum usefulness. The use of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) is emphasized in this book to further cut down and bend the famous learning curve in learning R. This book is aimed to help you kick-start with analytics including chapters on data visualization, code examples on web analytics and social media analytics, clustering, regression models, text mining, data mining models and forecasting. The book tries to expose the reader to a breadth of business analytics topics without burying the user in needless depth. The included references and links allow the reader to pursue business analytics topics.


This book is aimed at business analysts with basic programming skills for using R for Business Analytics. Note the scope of the book is neither statistical theory nor graduate level research for statistics, but rather it is for business analytics practitioners. Business analytics (BA) refers to the field of exploration and investigation of data generated by businesses. Business Intelligence (BI) is the seamless dissemination of information through the organization, which primarily involves business metrics both past and current for the use of decision support in businesses. Data Mining (DM) is the process of discovering new patterns from large data using algorithms and statistical methods. To differentiate between the three, BI is mostly current reports, BA is models to predict and strategize and DM matches patterns in big data. The R statistical software is the fastest growing analytics platform in the world, and is established in both academia and corporations for robustness, reliability and accuracy.

Content Level » Professional/practitioner

Keywords » Business Analytics – Data Mining – Data Visualization – Forecasting – GUI – Graphical User Interface – R software – Text Mining

Related subjects » Business, Economics & Finance – Computational Statistics – Statistics


Why R.- R Infrastructure.- R Interfaces.- Manipulating Data.- Exploring Data.- Building Regression Models.- Data Mining using R.- Clustering and Data Segmentation.- Forecasting and Time-Series Models.- Data Export and Output.- Optimizing your R Coding.- Additional Training Literature.- Appendix

Interview BigML.com

Here is an interview with Charlie Parker, head of large scale online algorithms at http://bigml.com

Ajay-  Describe your own personal background in scientific computing, and how you came to be involved with machine learning, cloud computing and BigML.com

Charlie- I am a machine learning Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Francisco Martin (our founder and CEO), Adam Ashenfelter (the lead developer on the tree algorithm), and myself were all studying machine learning at OSU around the same time. We all went our separate ways after that.

Francisco started Strands and turned it into a 100+ million dollar company building recommender systems. Adam worked for CleverSet, a probabilistic modeling company that was eventually sold to Cisco, I believe. I worked for several years in the research labs at Eastman Kodak on data mining, text analysis, and computer vision.

When Francisco left Strands to start BigML, he brought in Justin Donaldson who is a brilliant visualization guy from Indiana, and an ex-Googler named Jose Ortega who is responsible for most of our data infrastructure. They pulled in Adam and I a few months later. We also have Poul Petersen, a former Strands employee, who manages our herd of servers. He is a wizard and makes everyone else’s life much easier.

Ajay- You use clojure for the back end of BigML.com .Are there any other languages and packages you are considering? What makes clojure such a good fit for cloud computing ?

Charlie- Clojure is a great language because it offers you all of the benefits of Java (extensive libraries, cross-platform compatibility, easy integration with things like Hadoop, etc.) but has the syntactical elegance of a functional language. This makes our code base small and easy to read as well as powerful.

We’ve had occasional issues with speed, but that just means writing the occasional function or library in Java. As we build towards processing data at the Terabyte level, we’re hoping to create a framework that is language-agnostic to some extent. So if we have some great machine learning code in C, for example, we’ll use Clojure to tie everything together, but the code that does the heavy lifting will still be in C. For the API and Web layers, we use Python and Django, and Justin is a huge fan of HaXe for our visualizations.

 Ajay- Current support is for Decision Trees. When can we see SVM, K Means Clustering and Logit Regression?

Charlie- Right now we’re focused on perfecting our infrastructure and giving you new ways to put data in the system, but expect to see more algorithms appearing in the next few months. We want to make sure they are as beautiful and easy to use as the trees are. Without giving too much away, the first new thing we will probably introduce is an ensemble method of some sort (such as Boosting or Bagging). Clustering is a little further away but we’ll get there soon!

Ajay- How can we use the BigML.com API using R and Python.

Charlie- We have a public github repo for the language bindings. https://github.com/bigmlcom/io Right now, there there are only bash scripts but that should change very soon. The python bindings should be there in a matter of days, and the R bindings in probably a week or two. Clojure and Java bindings should follow shortly after that. We’ll have a blog post about it each time we release a new language binding. http://blog.bigml.com/

Ajay-  How can we predict large numbers of observations using a Model  that has been built and pruned (model scoring)?

Charlie- We are in the process of refactoring our backend right now for better support for batch prediction and model evaluation. This is something that is probably only a few weeks away. Keep your eye on our blog for updates!

Ajay-  How can we export models built in BigML.com for scoring data locally.

Charlie- This is as simple as a call to our API. https://bigml.com/developers/models The call gives you a JSON object representing the tree that is roughly equivalent to a PMML-style representation.


You can read about Charlie Parker at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/charles-parker/11/85b/4b5 and the rest of the BigML team at



Oracle R Updated!

Interesting message from https://blogs.oracle.com/R/ the latest R blog



Oracle just released the latest update to Oracle R Enterprise, version 1.1. This release includes the Oracle R Distribution (based on open source R, version 2.13.2), an improved server installation, and much more.  The key new features include:

  • Extended Server Support: New support for Windows 32 and 64-bit server components, as well as continuing support for Linux 64-bit server components
  • Improved Installation: Linux 64-bit server installation now provides robust status updates and prerequisite checks
  • Performance Improvements: Improved performance for embedded R script execution calculations

In addition, the updated ROracle package, which is used with Oracle R Enterprise, now reads date data by conversion to character strings.

We encourage you download Oracle software for evaluation from the Oracle Technology Network. See these links for R-related software: Oracle R DistributionOracle R EnterpriseROracleOracle R Connector for Hadoop.  As always, we welcome comments and questions on the Oracle R Forum.



Oracle R Distribution 2-13.2 Update Available

Oracle has released an update to the Oracle R Distribution, an Oracle-supported distribution of open source R. Oracle R Distribution 2-13.2 now contains the ability to dynamically link the following libraries on both Windows and Linux:

  • The Intel Math Kernel Library (MKL) on Intel chips
  • The AMD Core Math Library (ACML) on AMD chips


To take advantage of the performance enhancements provided by Intel MKL or AMD ACML in Oracle R Distribution, simply add the MKL or ACML shared library directory to the LD_LIBRARY_PATH system environment variable. This automatically enables MKL or ACML to make use of all available processors, vastly speeding up linear algebra computations and eliminating the need to recompile R.  Even on a single core, the optimized algorithms in the Intel MKL libraries are faster than using R’s standard BLAS library.

Open-source R is linked to NetLib’s BLAS libraries, but they are not multi-threaded and only use one core. While R’s internal BLAS are efficient for most computations, it’s possible to recompile R to link to a different, multi-threaded BLAS library to improve performance on eligible calculations. Compiling and linking to R yourself can be involved, but for many, the significantly improved calculation speed justifies the effort. Oracle R Distribution notably simplifies the process of using external math libraries by enabling R to auto-load MKL orACML. For R commands that don’t link to BLAS code, taking advantage of database parallelism usingembedded R execution in Oracle R Enterprise is the route to improved performance.

For more information about rebuilding R with different BLAS libraries, see the linear algebra section in the R Installation and Administration manual. As always, the Oracle R Distribution is available as a free download to anyone. Questions and comments are welcome on the Oracle R Forum.

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-

Oracle launches its version of R #rstats



Integrates R Statistical Programming Language into Oracle Database 11g

News Facts

Oracle today announced the availability of Oracle Advanced Analytics, a new option for Oracle Database 11g that bundles Oracle R Enterprise together with Oracle Data Mining.
Oracle R Enterprise delivers enterprise class performance for users of the R statistical programming language, increasing the scale of data that can be analyzed by orders of magnitude using Oracle Database 11g.
R has attracted over two million users since its introduction in 1995, and Oracle R Enterprise dramatically advances capability for R users. Their existing R development skills, tools, and scripts can now also run transparently, and scale against data stored in Oracle Database 11g.
Customer testing of Oracle R Enterprise for Big Data analytics on Oracle Exadata has shown up to 100x increase in performance in comparison to their current environment.
Oracle Data Mining, now part of Oracle Advanced Analytics, helps enable customers to easily build and deploy predictive analytic applications that help deliver new insights into business performance.
Oracle Advanced Analytics, in conjunction with Oracle Big Data ApplianceOracle Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, delivers the industry’s most integrated and comprehensive platform for Big Data analytics.

Comprehensive In-Database Platform for Advanced Analytics

Oracle Advanced Analytics brings analytic algorithms to data stored in Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Exadata as opposed to the traditional approach of extracting data to laptops or specialized servers.
With Oracle Advanced Analytics, customers have a comprehensive platform for real-time analytic applications that deliver insight into key business subjects such as churn prediction, product recommendations, and fraud alerting.
By providing direct and controlled access to data stored in Oracle Database 11g, customers can accelerate data analyst productivity while maintaining data security throughout the enterprise.
Powered by decades of Oracle Database innovation, Oracle R Enterprise helps enable analysts to run a variety of sophisticated numerical techniques on billion row data sets in a matter of seconds making iterative, speed of thought, and high-quality numerical analysis on Big Data practical.
Oracle R Enterprise drastically reduces the time to deploy models by eliminating the need to translate the models to other languages before they can be deployed in production.
Oracle R Enterprise integrates the extensive set of Oracle Database data mining algorithms, analytics, and access to Oracle OLAP cubes into the R language for transparent use by R users.
Oracle Data Mining provides an extensive set of in-database data mining algorithms that solve a wide range of business problems. These predictive models can be deployed in Oracle Database 11g and use Oracle Exadata Smart Scan to rapidly score huge volumes of data.
The tight integration between R, Oracle Database 11g, and Hadoop enables R users to write one R script that can run in three different environments: a laptop running open source R, Hadoop running with Oracle Big Data Connectors, and Oracle Database 11g.
Oracle provides single vendor support for the entire Big Data platform spanning the hardware stack, operating system, open source R, Oracle R Enterprise and Oracle Database 11g.
To enable easy enterprise-wide Big Data analysis, results from Oracle Advanced Analytics can be viewed from Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite and Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine.

Supporting Quotes

“Oracle is committed to meeting the challenges of Big Data analytics. By building upon the analytical depth of Oracle SQL, Oracle Data Mining and the R environment, Oracle is delivering a scalable and secure Big Data platform to help our customers solve the toughest analytics problems,” said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president, Oracle Server Technologies.
“We work with leading edge customers who rely on us to deliver better BI from their Oracle Databases. The new Oracle R Enterprise functionality allows us to perform deep analytics on Big Data stored in Oracle Databases. By leveraging R and its library of open source contributed CRAN packages combined with the power and scalability of Oracle Database 11g, we can now do that,” said Mark Rittman, co-founder, Rittman Mead.
Oracle Advanced Analytics — an option to Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition – extends the database into a comprehensive advanced analytics platform through two major components: Oracle R Enterprise and Oracle Data Mining. With Oracle Advanced Analytics, customers have a comprehensive platform for real-time analytic applications that deliver insight into key business subjects such as churn prediction, product recommendations, and fraud alerting.

Oracle R Enterprise tightly integrates the open source R programming language with the database to further extend the database with Rs library of statistical functionality, and pushes down computations to the database. Oracle R Enterprise dramatically advances the capability for R users, and allows them to use their existing R development skills and tools, and scripts can now also run transparently and scale against data stored in Oracle Database 11g.

Oracle Data Mining provides powerful data mining algorithms that run as native SQL functions for in-database model building and model deployment. It can be accessed through the SQL Developer extension Oracle Data Miner to build, evaluate, share and deploy predictive analytics methodologies. At the same time the high-performance Oracle-specific data mining algorithms are accessible from R.


  • Scalability—Allows customers to easily scale analytics as data volume increases by bringing the algorithms to where the data resides – in the database
  • Performance—With analytical operations performed in the database, R users can take advantage of the extreme performance of Oracle Exadata
  • Security—Provides data analysts with direct but controlled access to data in Oracle Database 11g, accelerating data analyst productivity while maintaining data security
  • Save Time and Money—Lowers overall TCO for data analysis by eliminating data movement and shortening the time it takes to transform “raw data” into “actionable information”
Oracle R Hadoop Connector Gives R users high performance native access to Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and MapReduce programming framework.
This is a  R package
From the datasheet at

Analytics for Cyber Conflict -Part Deux

Part 1 in this series is avaiable at http://www.decisionstats.com/analytics-for-cyber-conflict/

The next articles in this series will cover-

  1. the kind of algorithms that are currently or being proposed for cyber conflict, as well as or detection

Cyber Conflict requires some basic elements of the following broad disciplines within Computer and Information Science (besides the obvious disciplines of heterogeneous database types for different kinds of data) –

1) Cryptography – particularly a cryptographic  hash function that maximizes cost and time of the enemy trying to break it.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptographic_hash_function

The ideal cryptographic hash function has four main or significant properties:

  • it is easy (but not necessarily quick) to compute the hash value for any given message
  • it is infeasible to generate a message that has a given hash
  • it is infeasible to modify a message without changing the hash
  • it is infeasible to find two different messages with the same hash

A commercial spin off is to use this to anonymized all customer data stored in any database, such that no database (or data table) that is breached contains personally identifiable information. For example anonymizing the IP Addresses and DNS records with a mashup  (embedded by default within all browsers) of Tor and MafiaaFire extensions can help create better information privacy on the internet.

This can also help in creating better encryption between Instant Messengers in Communication

2) Data Disaster Planning for Data Storage (but also simulations for breaches)- including using cloud computing, time sharing, or RAID for backing up data. Planning and creating an annual (?) exercise for a simulated cyber breach of confidential just like a cyber audit- similar to an annual accounting audit

3) Basic Data Reduction Algorithms for visualizing large amounts of information. This can include

  1. K Means Clustering, http://www.jstor.org/pss/2346830 , http://www.cs.ust.hk/~qyang/Teaching/537/Papers/huang98extensions.pdf , and http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6372397/k-means-with-really-large-matrix
  2. Topic Models (LDA) http://www.decisionstats.com/topic-models/,
  3. Social Network Analysis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network_analysis,
  4. Graph Analysis http://micans.org/mcl/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19407357
  5. MapReduce and Parallelization algorithms for computational boosting http://www.slideshare.net/marin_dimitrov/large-scale-data-analysis-with-mapreduce-part-i

In the next article we will examine

  1. the role of non state agents as well as state agents competing and cooperating,
  2. and what precautions can knowledge discovery in databases practitioners employ to avoid breaches of security, ethics, and regulation.

Analytics for Cyber Conflict


The emerging use of Analytics and Knowledge Discovery in Databases for Cyber Conflict and Trade Negotiations


The blog post is the first in series or articles on cyber conflict and the use of analytics for targeting in both offense and defense in conflict situations.


It covers knowledge discovery in four kinds of databases (so chosen because of perceived importance , sensitivity, criticality and functioning of the geopolitical economic system)-

  1. Databases on Unique Identity Identifiers- including next generation biometric databases connected to Government Initiatives and Banking, and current generation databases of identifiers like government issued documents made online
  2. Databases on financial details -This includes not only traditional financial service providers but also online databases with payment details collected by retail product selling corporates like Sony’s Playstation Network, Microsoft ‘s XBox and
  3. Databases on contact details – including those by offline businesses collecting marketing databases and contact details
  4. Databases on social behavior- primarily collected by online businesses like Facebook , and other social media platforms.

It examines the role of

  1. voluntary privacy safeguards and government regulations ,

  2. weak cryptographic security of databases,

  3. weakness in balancing marketing ( maximized data ) with privacy (minimized data)

  4. and lastly the role of ownership patterns in database owning corporates

A small distinction between cyber crime and cyber conflict is that while cyber crime focusses on stealing data, intellectual property and information  to primarily maximize economic gains

cyber conflict focuses on stealing information and also disrupt effective working of database backed systems in order to gain notional competitive advantages in economics as well as geo-politics. Cyber terrorism is basically cyber conflict by non-state agents or by designated terrorist states as defined by the regulations of the “target” entity. A cyber attack is an offensive action related to cyber-infrastructure (like the Stuxnet worm that disabled uranium enrichment centrifuges of Iran). Cyber attacks and cyber terrorism are out of scope of this paper, we will concentrate on cyber conflicts involving databases.

Some examples are given here-

Types of Knowledge Discovery in –

1) Databases on Unique Identifiers- including biometric databases.

Unique Identifiers or primary keys for identifying people are critical for any intensive knowledge discovery program. The unique identifier generated must be extremely secure , and not liable to reverse engineering of the cryptographic hash function.

For biometric databases, an interesting possibility could be determining the ethnic identity from biometric information, and also mapping relatives. Current biometric information that is collected is- fingerprint data, eyes iris data, facial data. A further feature could be adding in voice data as a part of biometric databases.

This is subject to obvious privacy safeguards.

For example, Google recently unveiled facial recognition to unlock Android 4.0 mobiles, only to find out that the security feature could easily be bypassed by using a photo of the owner.



Example of Biometric Databases

In Afghanistan more than 2 million Afghans have contributed iris, fingerprint, facial data to a biometric database. In India, 121 million people have already been enrolled in the largest biometric database in the world. More than half a million customers of the Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank are are already using biometric verification at ATMs.

Examples of Breached Online Databases

In 2011, Playstation Network by Sony (PSN) lost data of 77 million customers including personal information and credit card information. Additionally data of 24 million customers were lost by Sony’s Sony Online Entertainment. The websites of open source platforms like SourceForge, WineHQ and Kernel.org were also broken into 2011. Even retailers like McDonald and Walgreen reported database breaches.


The role of cyber conflict arises in the following cases-

  1. Databases are online for accessing and authentication by proper users. Databases can be breached remotely by non-owners ( or “perpetrators”) non with much lesser chance of intruder identification, detection and penalization by regulators, or law enforcers (or “protectors”) than offline modes of intellectual property theft.

  2. Databases are valuable to external agents (or “sponsors”) subsidizing ( with finance, technology, information, motivation) the perpetrators for intellectual property theft. Databases contain information that can be used to disrupt the functioning of a particular economy, corporation (or “ primary targets”) or for further chain or domino effects in accessing other data (or “secondary targets”)

  3. Loss of data is more expensive than enhanced cost of security to database owners

  4. Loss of data is more disruptive to people whose data is contained within the database (or “customers”)

So the role play for different people for these kind of databases consists of-

1) Customers- who are in the database

2) Owners -who own the database. They together form the primary and secondary targets.

3) Protectors- who help customers and owners secure the databases.


1) Sponsors- who benefit from the theft or disruption of the database

2) Perpetrators- who execute the actual theft and disruption in the database

The use of topic models and LDA is known for making data reduction on text, and the use of data visualization including tied to GPS based location data is well known for investigative purposes, but the increasing complexity of both data generation and the sophistication of machine learning driven data processing makes this an interesting area to watch.



The next article in this series will cover-

the kind of algorithms that are currently or being proposed for cyber conflict, the role of non state agents , and what precautions can knowledge discovery in databases practitioners employ to avoid breaches of security, ethics, and regulation.


  1. Michael A. Vatis , CYBER ATTACKS DURING THE WAR ON TERRORISM: A PREDICTIVE ANALYSIS Dartmouth College (Institute for Security Technology Studies).
  2. From Data Mining to Knowledge Discovery in Databases Usama Fayyad, Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, and Padhraic Smyt