Analytics 2012 Conference

from http://www.sas.com/events/analytics/us/index.html

Analytics 2012 Conference

SAS and more than 1,000 analytics experts gather at

Caesars Palace
Caesars Palace

Analytics 2012 Conference Details

Pre-Conference Workshops – Oct 7
Conference – Oct 8-9
Post-Conference Training – Oct 10-12
Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Keynote Speakers

The following are confirmed keynote speakers for Analytics 2012. Jim Goodnight Since he co-founded SAS in 1976, Jim Goodnight has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

William Hakes Dr. William Hakes is the CEO and co-founder of Link Analytics, an analytical technology company focused on mobile, energy and government verticals.

Tim Rey Tim Rey  has written over 100 internal papers, published 21 external papers, and delivered numerous keynote presentations and technical talks at various quantitative methods forums. Recently he has co-chaired both forecasting and data mining conferences. He is currently in the process of co-writing a book, Applied Data Mining for Forecasting.

http://www.sas.com/events/analytics/us/train.html

Pre-Conference

Plan to come to Analytics 2012 a day early and participate in one of the pre-conference workshops or take a SAS Certification exam. Prices for all of the preconference workshops, except for SAS Sentiment Analysis Studio: Introduction to Building Models and the Business Analytics Consulting Workshops, are included in the conference package pricing. You will be prompted to select your pre-conference training options when you register.

Sunday Morning Workshop

SAS Sentiment Analysis Studio: Introduction to Building Models

This course provides an introduction to SAS Sentiment Analysis Studio. It is designed for system designers, developers, analytical consultants and managers who want to understand techniques and approaches for identifying sentiment in textual documents.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7, 8:30a.m.-12p.m. – $250

Sunday Afternoon Workshops

Business Analytics Consulting Workshops

This workshop is designed for the analyst, statistician, or executive who wants to discuss best-practice approaches to solving specific business problems, in the context of analytics. The two-hour workshop will be customized to discuss your specific analytical needs and will be designed as a one-on-one session for you, including up to five individuals within your company sharing your analytical goal. This workshop is specifically geared for an expert tasked with solving a critical business problem who needs consultation for developing the analytical approach required. The workshop can be customized to meet your needs, from a deep-dive into modeling methods to a strategic plan for analytic initiatives. In addition to the two hours at the conference location, this workshop includes some advanced consulting time over the phone, making it a valuable investment at a bargain price.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7; 1-3 p.m. or 3:30-5:30 p.m. – $200

Demand-Driven Forecasting: Sensing Demand Signals, Shaping and Predicting Demand

This half-day lecture teaches students how to integrate demand-driven forecasting into the consensus forecasting process and how to make the current demand forecasting process more demand-driven.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7; 1-5 p.m.

Forecast Value Added Analysis

Forecast Value Added (FVA) is the change in a forecasting performance metric (such as MAPE or bias) that can be attributed to a particular step or participant in the forecasting process. FVA analysis is used to identify those process activities that are failing to make the forecast any better (or might even be making it worse). This course provides step-by-step guidelines for conducting FVA analysis – to identify and eliminate the waste, inefficiency, and worst practices from your forecasting process. The result can be better forecasts, with fewer resources and less management time spent on forecasting.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7; 1-5 p.m.

SAS Enterprise Content Categorization: An Introduction

This course gives an introduction to methods of unstructured data analysis, document classification and document content identification. The course also uses examples as the basis for constructing parse expressions and resulting entities.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7; 1-5 p.m.

Introduction to Data Mining and SAS Enterprise Miner

This course serves as an introduction to data mining and SAS Enterprise Miner for Desktop software. It is designed for data analysts and qualitative experts as well as those with less of a technical background who want a general understanding of data mining.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7, 1-5 p.m.

Modeling Trend, Cycles, and Seasonality in Time Series Data Using PROC UCM

This half-day lecture teaches students how to model, interpret, and predict time series data using UCMs. The UCM procedure analyzes and forecasts equally spaced univariate time series data using the unobserved components models (UCM). This course is designed for business analysts who want to analyze time series data to uncover patterns such as trend, seasonal effects, and cycles using the latest techniques.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7, 1-5 p.m.

SAS Rapid Predictive Modeler

This seminar will provide a brief introduction to the use of SAS Enterprise Guide for graphical and data analysis. However, the focus will be on using SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Enterprise Miner along with the Rapid Predictive Modeling component to build predictive models. Predictive modeling will be introduced using the SEMMA process developed with the introduction of SAS Enterprise Miner. Several examples will be used to illustrate the use of the Rapid Predictive Modeling component, and interpretations of the model results will be provided.
View outline
Sunday, Oct. 7, 1-5 p.m

Using Rapid Miner and R for Sports Analytics #rstats

Rapid Miner has been one of the oldest open source analytics software, long long before open source or even analytics was considered a fashion buzzword. The Rapid Miner software has been a pioneer in many areas (like establishing a marketplace for Rapid Miner Extensions) and the Rapid Miner -R extension was one of the most promising enablers of using R in an enterprise setting.
The following interview was taken with a manager of analytics for a sports organization. The sports organization considers analytics as a strategic differentiator , hence the name is confidential. No part of the interview has been edited or manipulated.

Ajay- Why did you choose Rapid Miner and R? What were the other software alternatives you considered and discarded?

Analyst- We considered most of the other major players in statistics/data mining or enterprise BI.  However, we found that the value proposition for an open source solution was too compelling to justify the premium pricing that the commercial solutions would have required.  The widespread adoption of R and the variety of packages and algorithms available for it, made it an easy choice.  We liked RapidMiner as a way to design structured, repeatable processes, and the ability to optimize learner parameters in a systematic way.  It also handled large data sets better than R on 32-bit Windows did.  The GUI, particularly when 5.0 was released, made it more usable than R for analysts who weren’t experienced programmers.

Ajay- What analytics do you do think Rapid Miner and R are best suited for?

 Analyst- We use RM+R mainly for sports analysis so far, rather than for more traditional business applications.  It has been quite suitable for that, and I can easily see how it would be used for other types of applications.

 Ajay- Any experiences as an enterprise customer? How was the installation process? How good is the enterprise level support?

Analyst- Rapid-I has been one of the most responsive tech companies I’ve dealt with, either in my current role or with previous employers.  They are small enough to be able to respond quickly to requests, and in more than one case, have fixed a problem, or added a small feature we needed within a matter of days.  In other cases, we have contracted with them to add larger pieces of specific functionality we needed at reasonable consulting rates.  Those features are added to the mainline product, and become fully supported through regular channels.  The longer consulting projects have typically had a turnaround of just a few weeks.

 Ajay- What challenges if any did you face in executing a pure open source analytics bundle ?

Analyst- As Rapid-I is a smaller company based in Europe, the availability of training and consulting in the USA isn’t as extensive as for the major enterprise software players, and the time zone differences sometimes slow down the communications cycle.  There were times where we were the first customer to attempt a specific integration point in our technical environment, and with no prior experiences to fall back on, we had to work with Rapid-I to figure out how to do it.  Compared to the what traditional software vendors provide, both R and RM tend to have sparse, terse, occasionally incomplete documentation.  The situation is getting better, but still lags behind what the traditional enterprise software vendors provide.

 Ajay- What are the things you can do in R ,and what are the things you prefer to do in Rapid Miner (comparison for technical synergies)

Analyst- Our experience has been that RM is superior to R at writing and maintaining structured processes, better at handling larger amounts of data, and more flexible at fine-tuning model parameters automatically.  The biggest limitation we’ve had with RM compared to R is that R has a larger library of user-contributed packages for additional data mining algorithms.  Sometimes we opted to use R because RM hadn’t yet implemented a specific algorithm.  The introduction the R extension has allowed us to combine the strengths of both tools in a very logical and productive way.

In particular, extending RapidMiner with R helped address RM’s weakness in the breadth of algorithms, because it brings the entire R ecosystem into RM (similar to how Rapid-I implemented much of the Weka library early on in RM’s development).  Further, because the R user community releases packages that implement new techniques faster than the enterprise vendors can, this helps turn a potential weakness into a potential strength.  However, R packages tend to be of varying quality, and are more prone to go stale due to lack of support/bug fixes.  This depends heavily on the package’s maintainer and its prevalence of use in the R community.  So when RapidMiner has a learner with a native implementation, it’s usually better to use it than the R equivalent.

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.

Little Book of R For Time Series #rstats

I loved this book. Only 75 pages and very lucidly written and available on Github for free. Nice job by Avril Coghlan a.coghlan@ucc.ie

.Of course My usual suspects for Time Series Readings are –

1) The seminal pdf (2008!!) by  a certain Prof Hyndman

http://www.maths.anu.edu.au/~johnm/courses/r/ASC2008/pdf/Rtimeseries-ohp.pdf

 

2) JSS Paper -Automatic Time Series Forecasting: The forecast
Package for R http://www.jstatsoft.org/v27/i03/paper

3) The CRAN View http://cran.r-project.org/web/views/TimeSeries.html

This is cluttered and getting more and more cluttered. Some help on helping recent converts to R, especially in the field of corporate forecasting or time series for business analytics would really help.

Avril does an awesome job with this curiously named ( 😉 ) booklet  at http://a-little-book-of-r-for-time-series.readthedocs.org/en/latest/src/timeseries.html

RevoDeployR and commercial BI using R and R based cloud computing using Open CPU

Revolution Analytics has of course had RevoDeployR, and in a  webinar strive to bring it back to center spotlight.

BI is a good lucrative market, and visualization is a strength in R, so it is matter of time before we have more R based BI solutions. I really liked the two slides below for explaining RevoDeployR better to newbies like me (and many others!)

Integrating R into 3rd party and Web applications using RevoDeployR

Please click here to download the PDF.

Here are some additional links that may be of interest to you:

 

( I still think someone should make a commercial version of Jeroen Oom’s web interfaces and Jeff Horner’s web infrastructure (see below) for making customized Business Intelligence (BI) /Data Visualization solutions , UCLA and Vanderbilt are not exactly Stanford when it comes to deploying great academic solutions in the startup-tech world). I kind of think Google or someone at Revolution  should atleast dekko OpenCPU as a credible cloud solution in R.

I still cant figure out whether Revolution Analytics has a cloud computing strategy and Google seems to be working mysteriously as usual in broadening access to the Google Compute Cloud to the rest of R Community.

Open CPU  provides a free and open platform for statistical computing in the cloud. It is meant as an open, social analysis environment where people can share and run R functions and objects. For more details, visit the websit: www.opencpu.org

and esp see

https://public.opencpu.org/userapps/opencpu/opencpu.demo/runcode/

Jeff Horner’s

http://rapache.net/

Jerooen Oom’s

Big Noise on Big Data

Increasingly Big Data is used in writing where Business Analytics was used, and data mining is thrown in as a word just to keep liberal art majors happy that they are reading a scientific article.

Some Big Words I have noticed in my Short life-

Big Data? High Performance Analytics? High Performance Computing ? Cloud Computing? Time Sharing? Data Mining? SEMMA? CRISP-DM? KDD? Business Intelligence? Business Analytics and Optimization? (pick a card and any card)

(or Just Moore’s Law catching up with the analytics)

Some examples-

Replace Big Data with Analytics in these articles and let me know if you can make out much of a difference

  • Big Data on Campus

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/education/edlife/colleges-awakening-to-the-opportunities-of-data-mining.html

  • From the man who famously said BI is dead, is now burying Business Analytics within the new buzzword , SAS CMO Jim Davis

How to transform big data from an obstacle into an asset

http://blogs.sas.com/content/corneroffice/2012/07/22/how-to-transform-big-data-from-an-obstacle-into-an-asset/

(Related- Is big data over hyped? by Jim Davis

http://www.sas.com/knowledge-exchange/business-analytics/featured/is-big-data-over-hyped/index.html )

I am sure by 2015, Jim Davis, NYT and the merry men of analytics will find some other buzzwords to rally the troops. In the meantime, let me throw out the flag and call it Big  .

Google Visualization Tools Can Help You Build a Personal Dashboard

The Google Visualization API is a great way for people to make dashboards with slick graphics based  on data without getting into the fine print of the scripting language  itself.  It utilizes the same tools as Google itself does, and makes visualizing data using API calls to the Visualization API. Thus a real-time customizable dashboard that is publishable to the internet can be created within minutes, and more importantly insights can be much more easily drawn from graphs than from looking at rows of tables and numbers.

  1. There are 41 gadgets (including made by both Google and third-party developers ) available in the Gadget  Gallery ( https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gadgetgallery)
  2. There are 12 kinds of charts available in the Chart Gallery (https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery) .
  3. However there 26 additional charts in the charts page at https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/more_charts )

Building and embedding charts is simplified to a few steps

  • Load the AJAX API
  • Load the Visualization API and the appropriate package (like piechart or barchart from the kinds of chart)
  • Set a callback to run when the Google Visualization API is loaded
    • Within the Callback – It creates and populates a data table, instantiates the particular chart type chosen, passes in the data and draws it.
    • Create the data table with appropriately named columns and data rows.
    • Set chart options with Title, Width and Height
  • Instantiate and draw the chart, passing in some options including the name and id
  • Finally write the HTML/ Div that will hold the chart

You can simply copy and paste the code directly from https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/quick_start without getting into any details, and tweak them according to your data, chart preference and voila your web dashboard is ready!
That is the beauty of working with API- you can create and display genius ideas without messing with the scripting languages and code (too much). If you like to dive deeper into the API, you can look at the various objects at https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/reference

First launched in Mar 2008, Google Visualization API has indeed come a long way in making dashboards easier to build for people wanting to utilize advanced data visualization . It came about directly as a result of Google’s 2007 acquisition of GapMinder (of Hans Rosling fame).
As invariably and inevitably computing shifts to the cloud, visualization APIs will be very useful. Tableau Software has been a pioneer in selling data visualizing to the lucrative business intelligence and business dashboards community (you can see the Tableau Software API at http://onlinehelp.tableausoftware.com/v7.0/server/en-us/embed_api.htm ), and Google Visualization can do the same and capture business dashboard and visualization market , if there is more focus on integrating it from Google in it’s multiple and often confusing API offerings.
However as of now, this is quite simply the easiest way to create a web dashboard for your personal needs. Google guarantees 3 years of backward compatibility with this API and it is completely free.