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.

Interview Rapid-I -Ingo Mierswa and Simon Fischer

Here is an interview with Dr Ingo Mierswa , CEO of Rapid -I and Dr Simon Fischer, Head R&D. Rapid-I makes the very popular software Rapid Miner – perhaps one of the earliest leading open source software in business analytics and business intelligence. It is quite easy to use, deploy and with it’s extensions and innovations (including compatibility with R )has continued to grow tremendously through the years.

In an extensive interview Ingo and Simon talk about algorithms marketplace, extensions , big data analytics, hadoop, mobile computing and use of the graphical user interface in analytics.

Special Thanks to Nadja from Rapid I communication team for helping coordinate this interview.( Statuary Blogging Disclosure- Rapid I is a marketing partner with Decisionstats as per the terms in https://decisionstats.com/privacy-3/)

Ajay- Describe your background in science. What are the key lessons that you have learnt while as scientific researcher and what advice would you give to new students today.

Ingo: My time as researcher really was a great experience which has influenced me a lot. I have worked at the AI lab of Prof. Dr. Katharina Morik, one of the persons who brought machine learning and data mining to Europe. Katharina always believed in what we are doing, encouraged us and gave us the space for trying out new things. Funnily enough, I never managed to use my own scientific results in any real-life project so far but I consider this as a quite common gap between science and the “real world”. At Rapid-I, however, we are still heavily connected to the scientific world and try to combine the best of both worlds: solving existing problems with leading-edge technologies.

Simon: In fact, during my academic career I have not worked in the field of data mining at all. I worked on a field some of my colleagues would probably even consider boring, and that is theoretical computer science. To be precise, my research was in the intersection of game theory and network theory. During that time, I have learnt a lot of exciting things, none of which had any business use. Still, I consider that a very valuable experience. When we at Rapid-I hire people coming to us right after graduating, I don’t care whether they know the latest technology with a fancy three-letter acronym – that will be forgotten more quickly than it came. What matters is the way you approach new problems and challenges. And that is also my recommendation to new students: work on whatever you like, as long as you are passionate about it and it brings you forward.

Ajay-  How is the Rapid Miner Extensions marketplace moving along. Do you think there is a scope for people to say create algorithms in a platform like R , and then offer that algorithm as an app for sale just like iTunes or Android apps.

 Simon: Well, of course it is not going to be exactly like iTunes or Android apps are, because of the more business-orientated character. But in fact there is a scope for that, yes. We have talked to several developers, e.g., at our user conference RCOMM, and several people would be interested in such an opportunity. Companies using data mining software need supported software packages, not just something they downloaded from some anonymous server, and that is only possible through a platform like the new Marketplace. Besides that, the marketplace will not only host commercial extensions. It is also meant to be a platform for all the developers that want to publish their extensions to a broader community and make them accessible in a comfortable way. Of course they could just place them on their personal Web pages, but who would find them there? From the Marketplace, they are installable with a single click.

Ingo: What I like most about the new Rapid-I Marketplace is the fact that people can now get something back for their efforts. Developing a new algorithm is a lot of work, in some cases even more that developing a nice app for your mobile phone. It is completely accepted that people buy apps from a store for a couple of Dollars and I foresee the same for sharing and selling algorithms instead of apps. Right now, people can already share algorithms and extensions for free, one of the next versions will also support selling of those contributions. Let’s see what’s happening next, maybe we will add the option to sell complete RapidMiner workflows or even some data pools…

Ajay- What are the recent features in Rapid Miner that support cloud computing, mobile computing and tablets. How do you think the landscape for Big Data (over 1 Tb ) is changing and how is Rapid Miner adapting to it.

Simon: These are areas we are very active in. For instance, we have an In-Database-Mining Extension that allows the user to run their modelling algorithms directly inside the database, without ever loading the data into memory. Using analytic databases like Vectorwise or Infobright, this technology can really boost performance. Our data mining server, RapidAnalytics, already offers functionality to send analysis processes into the cloud. In addition to that, we are currently preparing a research project dealing with data mining in the cloud. A second project is targeted towards the other aspect you mention: the use of mobile devices. This is certainly a growing market, of course not for designing and running analyses, but for inspecting reports and results. But even that is tricky: When you have a large screen you can display fancy and comprehensive interactive dashboards with drill downs and the like. On a mobile device, that does not work, so you must bring your reports and visualizations very much to the point. And this is precisely what data mining can do – and what is hard to do for classical BI.

Ingo: Then there is Radoop, which you may have heard of. It uses the Apache Hadoop framework for large-scale distributed computing to execute RapidMiner processes in the cloud. Radoop has been presented at this year’s RCOMM and people are really excited about the combination of RapidMiner with Hadoop and the scalability this brings.

 Ajay- Describe the Rapid Miner analytics certification program and what steps are you taking to partner with academic universities.

Ingo: The Rapid-I Certification Program was created to recognize professional users of RapidMiner or RapidAnalytics. The idea is that certified users have demonstrated a deep understanding of the data analysis software solutions provided by Rapid-I and how they are used in data analysis projects. Taking part in the Rapid-I Certification Program offers a lot of benefits for IT professionals as well as for employers: professionals can demonstrate their skills and employers can make sure that they hire qualified professionals. We started our certification program only about 6 months ago and until now about 100 professionals have been certified so far.

Simon: During our annual user conference, the RCOMM, we have plenty of opportunities to talk to people from academia. We’re also present at other conferences, e.g. at ECML/PKDD, and we are sponsoring data mining challenges and grants. We maintain strong ties with several universities all over Europe and the world, which is something that I would not want to miss. We are also cooperating with institutes like the ITB in Dublin during their training programmes, e.g. by giving lectures, etc. Also, we are leading or participating in several national or EU-funded research projects, so we are still close to academia. And we offer an academic discount on all our products 🙂

Ajay- Describe the global efforts in making Rapid Miner a truly international software including spread of developers, clients and employees.

Simon: Our clients already are very international. We have a partner network in America, Asia, and Australia, and, while I am responding to these questions, we have a training course in the US. Developers working on the core of RapidMiner and RapidAnalytics, however, are likely to stay in Germany for the foreseeable future. We need specialists for that, and it would be pointless to spread the development team over the globe. That is also owed to the agile philosophy that we are following.

Ingo: Simon is right, Rapid-I already is acting on an international level. Rapid-I now has more than 300 customers from 39 countries in the world which is a great result for a young company like ours. We are of course very strong in Germany and also the rest of Europe, but also concentrate on more countries by means of our very successful partner network. Rapid-I continues to build this partner network and to recruit dynamic and knowledgeable partners and in the future. However, extending and acting globally is definitely part of our strategic roadmap.

Biography

Dr. Ingo Mierswa is working as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rapid-I. He has several years of experience in project management, human resources management, consulting, and leadership including eight years of coordinating and leading the multi-national RapidMiner developer team with about 30 developers and contributors world-wide. He wrote his Phd titled “Non-Convex and Multi-Objective Optimization for Numerical Feature Engineering and Data Mining” at the University of Dortmund under the supervision of Prof. Morik.

Dr. Simon Fischer is heading the research & development at Rapid-I. His interests include game theory and networks, the theory of evolutionary algorithms (e.g. on the Ising model), and theoretical and practical aspects of data mining. He wrote his PhD in Aachen where he worked in the project “Design and Analysis of Self-Regulating Protocols for Spectrum Assignment” within the excellence cluster UMIC. Before, he was working on the vtraffic project within the DFG Programme 1126 “Algorithms for large and complex networks”.

http://rapid-i.com/content/view/181/190/ tells you more on the various types of Rapid Miner licensing for enterprise, individual and developer versions.

(Note from Ajay- to receive an early edition invite to Radoop, click here http://radoop.eu/z1sxe)

 

#Rstats for Business Intelligence

This is a short list of several known as well as lesser known R ( #rstats) language codes, packages and tricks to build a business intelligence application. It will be slightly Messy (and not Messi) but I hope to refine it someday when the cows come home.

It assumes that BI is basically-

a Database, a Document Database, a Report creation/Dashboard pulling software as well unique R packages for business intelligence.

What is business intelligence?

Seamless dissemination of data in the organization. In short let it flow- from raw transactional data to aggregate dashboards, to control and test experiments, to new and legacy data mining models- a business intelligence enabled organization allows information to flow easily AND capture insights and feedback for further action.

BI software has lately meant to be just reporting software- and Business Analytics has meant to be primarily predictive analytics. the terms are interchangeable in my opinion -as BI reports can also be called descriptive aggregated statistics or descriptive analytics, and predictive analytics is useless and incomplete unless you measure the effect in dashboards and summary reports.

Data Mining- is a bit more than predictive analytics- it includes pattern recognizability as well as black box machine learning algorithms. To further aggravate these divides, students mostly learn data mining in computer science, predictive analytics (if at all) in business departments and statistics, and no one teaches metrics , dashboards, reporting  in mainstream academia even though a large number of graduates will end up fiddling with spreadsheets or dashboards in real careers.

Using R with

1) Databases-

I created a short list of database connectivity with R here at https://rforanalytics.wordpress.com/odbc-databases-for-r/ but R has released 3 new versions since then.

The RODBC package remains the package of choice for connecting to SQL Databases.

http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/RODBC/RODBC.pdf

Details on creating DSN and connecting to Databases are given at  https://rforanalytics.wordpress.com/odbc-databases-for-r/

For document databases like MongoDB and CouchDB

( what is the difference between traditional RDBMS and NoSQL if you ever need to explain it in a cocktail conversation http://dba.stackexchange.com/questions/5/what-are-the-differences-between-nosql-and-a-traditional-rdbms

Basically dispensing with the relational setup, with primary and foreign keys, and with the additional overhead involved in keeping transactional safety, often gives you extreme increases in performance

NoSQL is a kind of database that doesn’t have a fixed schema like a traditional RDBMS does. With the NoSQL databases the schema is defined by the developer at run time. They don’t write normal SQL statements against the database, but instead use an API to get the data that they need.

instead relating data in one table to another you store things as key value pairs and there is no database schema, it is handled instead in code.)

I believe any corporation with data driven decision making would need to both have atleast one RDBMS and one NoSQL for unstructured data-Ajay. This is a sweeping generic statement 😉 , and is an opinion on future technologies.

  • Use RMongo

From- http://tommy.chheng.com/2010/11/03/rmongo-accessing-mongodb-in-r/

http://plindenbaum.blogspot.com/2010/09/connecting-to-mongodb-database-from-r.html

Connecting to a MongoDB database from R using Java

http://nsaunders.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/connecting-to-a-mongodb-database-from-r-using-java/

Also see a nice basic analysis using R Mongo from

http://pseudofish.com/blog/2011/05/25/analysis-of-data-with-mongodb-and-r/

For CouchDB

please see https://github.com/wactbprot/R4CouchDB and

http://digitheadslabnotebook.blogspot.com/2010/10/couchdb-and-r.html

  • First install RCurl and RJSONIO. You’ll have to download the tar.gz’s if you’re on a Mac. For the second part, we’ll need to installR4CouchDB,

2) External Report Creating Software-

Jaspersoft- It has good integration with R and is a certified Revolution Analytics partner (who seem to be the only ones with a coherent #Rstats go to market strategy- which begs the question – why is the freest and finest stats software having only ONE vendor- if it was so great lots of companies would make exclusive products for it – (and some do -see https://rforanalytics.wordpress.com/r-business-solutions/ and https://rforanalytics.wordpress.com/using-r-from-other-software/)

From

http://www.jaspersoft.com/sites/default/files/downloads/events/Analytics%20-Jaspersoft-SEP2010.pdf

we see

http://jasperforge.org/projects/rrevodeployrbyrevolutionanalytics

RevoConnectR for JasperReports Server

RevoConnectR for JasperReports Server RevoConnectR for JasperReports Server is a Java library interface between JasperReports Server and Revolution R Enterprise’s RevoDeployR, a standardized collection of web services that integrates security, APIs, scripts and libraries for R into a single server. JasperReports Server dashboards can retrieve R charts and result sets from RevoDeployR.

http://jasperforge.org/plugins/esp_frs/optional_download.php?group_id=409

 

Using R and Pentaho
Extending Pentaho with R analytics”R” is a popular open source statistical and analytical language that academics and commercial organizations alike have used for years to get maximum insight out of information using advanced analytic techniques. In this twelve-minute video, David Reinke from Pentaho Certified Partner OpenBI provides an overview of R, as well as a demonstration of integration between R and Pentaho.
and from
R and BI – Integrating R with Open Source Business
Intelligence Platforms Pentaho and Jaspersoft
David Reinke, Steve Miller
Keywords: business intelligence
Increasingly, R is becoming the tool of choice for statistical analysis, optimization, machine learning and
visualization in the business world. This trend will only escalate as more R analysts transition to business
from academia. But whereas in academia R is often the central tool for analytics, in business R must coexist
with and enhance mainstream business intelligence (BI) technologies. A modern BI portfolio already includes
relational databeses, data integration (extract, transform, load – ETL), query and reporting, online analytical
processing (OLAP), dashboards, and advanced visualization. The opportunity to extend traditional BI with
R analytics revolves on the introduction of advanced statistical modeling and visualizations native to R. The
challenge is to seamlessly integrate R capabilities within the existing BI space. This presentation will explain
and demo an initial approach to integrating R with two comprehensive open source BI (OSBI) platforms –
Pentaho and Jaspersoft. Our efforts will be successful if we stimulate additional progress, transparency and
innovation by combining the R and BI worlds.
The demonstration will show how we integrated the OSBI platforms with R through use of RServe and
its Java API. The BI platforms provide an end user web application which include application security,
data provisioning and BI functionality. Our integration will demonstrate a process by which BI components
can be created that prompt the user for parameters, acquire data from a relational database and pass into
RServer, invoke R commands for processing, and display the resulting R generated statistics and/or graphs
within the BI platform. Discussion will include concepts related to creating a reusable java class library of
commonly used processes to speed additional development.

If you know Java- try http://ramanareddyg.blog.com/2010/07/03/integrating-r-and-pentaho-data-integration/

 

and I like this list by two venerable powerhouses of the BI Open Source Movement

http://www.openbi.com/demosarticles.html

Open Source BI as disruptive technology

http://www.openbi.biz/articles/osbi_disruption_openbi.pdf

Open Source Punditry

TITLE AUTHOR COMMENTS
Commercial Open Source BI Redux Dave Reinke & Steve Miller An review and update on the predictions made in our 2007 article focused on the current state of the commercial open source BI market. Also included is a brief analysis of potential options for commercial open source business models and our take on their applicability.
Open Source BI as Disruptive Technology Dave Reinke & Steve Miller Reprint of May 2007 DM Review article explaining how and why Commercial Open Source BI (COSBI) will disrupt the traditional proprietary market.

Spotlight on R

TITLE AUTHOR COMMENTS
R You Ready for Open Source Statistics? Steve Miller R has become the “lingua franca” for academic statistical analysis and modeling, and is now rapidly gaining exposure in the commercial world. Steve examines the R technology and community and its relevancy to mainstream BI.
R and BI (Part 1): Data Analysis with R Steve Miller An introduction to R and its myriad statistical graphing techniques.
R and BI (Part 2): A Statistical Look at Detail Data Steve Miller The usage of R’s graphical building blocks – dotplots, stripplots and xyplots – to create dashboards which require little ink yet tell a big story.
R and BI (Part 3): The Grooming of Box and Whiskers Steve Miller Boxplots and variants (e.g. Violin Plot) are explored as an essential graphical technique to summarize data distributions by categories and dimensions of other attributes.
R and BI (Part 4): Embellishing Graphs Steve Miller Lattices and logarithmic data transformations are used to illuminate data density and distribution and find patterns otherwise missed using classic charting techniques.
R and BI (Part 5): Predictive Modelling Steve Miller An introduction to basic predictive modelling terminology and techniques with graphical examples created using R.
R and BI (Part 6) :
Re-expressing Data
Steve Miller How do you deal with highly skewed data distributions? Standard charting techniques on this “deviant” data often fail to illuminate relationships. This article explains techniques to re-express skewed data so that it is more understandable.
The Stock Market, 2007 Steve Miller R-based dashboards are presented to demonstrate the return performance of various asset classes during 2007.
Bootstrapping for Portfolio Returns: The Practice of Statistical Analysis Steve Miller Steve uses the R open source stats package and Monte Carlo simulations to examine alternative investment portfolio returns…a good example of applied statistics using R.
Statistical Graphs for Portfolio Returns Steve Miller Steve uses the R open source stats package to analyze market returns by asset class with some very provocative embedded trellis charts.
Frank Harrell, Iowa State and useR!2007 Steve Miller In August, Steve attended the 2007 Internation R User conference (useR!2007). This article details his experiences, including his meeting with long-time R community expert, Frank Harrell.
An Open Source Statistical “Dashboard” for Investment Performance Steve Miller The newly launched Dashboard Insight web site is focused on the most useful of BI tools: dashboards. With this article discussing the use of R and trellis graphics, OpenBI brings the realm of open source to this forum.
Unsexy Graphics for Business Intelligence Steve Miller Utilizing Tufte’s philosophy of maximizing the data to ink ratio of graphics, Steve demonstrates the value in dot plot diagramming. The R open source statistical/analytics software is showcased.
I think that the report generation package Brew would also qualify as a BI package, but large scale implementation remains to be seen in
a commercial business environment
  • brew: Creating Repetitive Reports
 brew: Templating Framework for Report Generation

brew implements a templating framework for mixing text and R code for report generation. brew template syntax is similar to PHP, Ruby's erb module, Java Server Pages, and Python's psp module. http://bit.ly/jINmaI
  • Yarr- creating reports in R
to be continued ( when I have more time and the temperature goes down from 110F in Delhi, India)

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Zementis partners with R Analytics Vendor- Revo

Logo for R
Image via Wikipedia

Just got a  PR email from Michael Zeller,CEO , Zementis annoucing Zementis (ADAPA) and Revolution  Analytics just partnered up.

Is this something substantial or just time-sharing http://bi.cbronline.com/news/sas-ceo-says-cep-open-source-and-cloud-bi-have-limited-appeal or a Barney Partnership (http://www.dbms2.com/2008/05/08/database-blades-are-not-what-they-used-to-be/)

Summary- Thats cloud computing scoring of models on EC2 (Zementis) partnering with the actual modeling software in R (Revolution Analytics RevoDeployR)

See previous interviews with both Dr Zeller at https://decisionstats.com/2009/02/03/interview-michael-zeller-ceozementis/ ,https://decisionstats.com/2009/05/07/interview-ron-ramos-zementis/ and https://decisionstats.com/2009/10/05/interview-michael-zellerceo-zementis-on-pmml/)

and Revolution guys at https://decisionstats.com/2010/08/03/q-a-with-david-smith-revolution-analytics/

and https://decisionstats.com/2009/05/29/interview-david-smith-revolution-computing/

strategic partnership with Revolution Analytics, the leading commercial provider of software and support for the popular open source R statistics language. With this partnership, predictive models developed on Revolution R Enterprise are now accessible for real-time scoring through the ADAPA Decisioning Engine by Zementis. 

ADAPA is an extremely fast and scalable predictive platform. Models deployed in ADAPA are automatically available for execution in real-time and batch-mode as Web Services. ADAPA allows Revolution R Enterprise to leverage the Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) for better decision management. With PMML, models built in R can be used in a wide variety of real-world scenarios without requiring laborious or expensive proprietary processes to convert them into applications capable of running on an execution system.

partnership

“By partnering with Zementis, Revolution Analytics is building an end-to-end solution for moving enterprise-level predictive R models into the execution environment,” said Jeff Erhardt, Revolution Analytics Chief Operation Officer. “With Zementis, we are eliminating the need to take R applications apart and recode, retest and redeploy them in order to obtain desirable results.”

 

Got demo? 

Yes, we do! Revolution Analytics and Zementis have put together a demo which combines the building of models in R with automatic deployment and execution in ADAPA. It uses Revolution Analytics’ RevoDeployR, a new Web Services framework that allows for data analysts working in R to publish R scripts to a server-based installation of Revolution R Enterprise.

Action Items:

  1. Try our INTERACTIVE DEMO
  2. DOWNLOAD the white paper
  3. Try the ADAPA FREE TRIAL

RevoDeployR & ADAPA allow for real-time analysis and predictions from R to be effectively used by existing Excel spreadsheets, BI dashboards and Web-based applications, all in real-time.

RevoADAPAPredictive analytics with RevoDeployR from Revolution Analytics and ADAPA from Zementis put model building and real-time scoring into a league of their own. Seriously!

Choosing R for business – What to consider?

A composite of the GNU logo and the OSI logo, ...
Image via Wikipedia

Additional features in R over other analytical packages-

1) Source Code is given to ensure complete custom solution and embedding for a particular application. Open source code has an advantage that is extensively peer- reviewed in Journals and Scientific Literature.  This means bugs will found, shared and corrected transparently.

2) Wide literature of training material in the form of books is available for the R analytical platform.

3) Extensively the best data visualization tools in analytical software (apart from Tableau Software ‘s latest version). The extensive data visualization available in R is of the form a variety of customizable graphs, as well as animation. The principal reason third-party software initially started creating interfaces to R is because the graphical library of packages in R is more advanced as well as rapidly getting more features by the day.

4) Free in upfront license cost for academics and thus budget friendly for small and large analytical teams.

5) Flexible programming for your data environment. This includes having packages that ensure compatibility with Java, Python and C++.

 

6) Easy migration from other analytical platforms to R Platform. It is relatively easy for a non R platform user to migrate to R platform and there is no danger of vendor lock-in due to the GPL nature of source code and open community.

Statistics are numbers that tell (descriptive), advise ( prescriptive) or forecast (predictive). Analytics is a decision-making help tool. Analytics on which no decision is to be made or is being considered can be classified as purely statistical and non analytical. Thus ease of making a correct decision separates a good analytical platform from a not so good analytical platform. The distinction is likely to be disputed by people of either background- and business analysis requires more emphasis on how practical or actionable the results are and less emphasis on the statistical metrics in a particular data analysis task. I believe one clear reason between business analytics is different from statistical analysis is the cost of perfect information (data costs in real world) and the opportunity cost of delayed and distorted decision-making.

Specific to the following domains R has the following costs and benefits

  • Business Analytics
    • R is free per license and for download
    • It is one of the few analytical platforms that work on Mac OS
    • It’s results are credibly established in both journals like Journal of Statistical Software and in the work at LinkedIn, Google and Facebook’s analytical teams.
    • It has open source code for customization as per GPL
    • It also has a flexible option for commercial vendors like Revolution Analytics (who support 64 bit windows) as well as bigger datasets
    • It has interfaces from almost all other analytical software including SAS,SPSS, JMP, Oracle Data Mining, Rapid Miner. Existing license holders can thus invoke and use R from within these software
    • Huge library of packages for regression, time series, finance and modeling
    • High quality data visualization packages
    • Data Mining
      • R as a computing platform is better suited to the needs of data mining as it has a vast array of packages covering standard regression, decision trees, association rules, cluster analysis, machine learning, neural networks as well as exotic specialized algorithms like those based on chaos models.
      • Flexibility in tweaking a standard algorithm by seeing the source code
      • The RATTLE GUI remains the standard GUI for Data Miners using R. It was created and developed in Australia.
      • Business Dashboards and Reporting
      • Business Dashboards and Reporting are an essential piece of Business Intelligence and Decision making systems in organizations. R offers data visualization through GGPLOT, and GUI like Deducer and Red-R can help even non R users create a metrics dashboard
        • For online Dashboards- R has packages like RWeb, RServe and R Apache- which in combination with data visualization packages offer powerful dashboard capabilities.
        • R can be combined with MS Excel using the R Excel package – to enable R capabilities to be imported within Excel. Thus a MS Excel user with no knowledge of R can use the GUI within the R Excel plug-in to use powerful graphical and statistical capabilities.

Additional factors to consider in your R installation-

There are some more choices awaiting you now-
1) Licensing Choices-Academic Version or Free Version or Enterprise Version of R

2) Operating System Choices-Which Operating System to choose from? Unix, Windows or Mac OS.

3) Operating system sub choice- 32- bit or 64 bit.

4) Hardware choices-Cost -benefit trade-offs for additional hardware for R. Choices between local ,cluster and cloud computing.

5) Interface choices-Command Line versus GUI? Which GUI to choose as the default start-up option?

6) Software component choice- Which packages to install? There are almost 3000 packages, some of them are complimentary, some are dependent on each other, and almost all are free.

7) Additional Software choices- Which additional software do you need to achieve maximum accuracy, robustness and speed of computing- and how to use existing legacy software and hardware for best complementary results with R.

1) Licensing Choices-
You can choose between two kinds of R installations – one is free and open source from http://r-project.org The other R installation is commercial and is offered by many vendors including Revolution Analytics. However there are other commercial vendors too.

Commercial Vendors of R Language Products-
1) Revolution Analytics http://www.revolutionanalytics.com/
2) XL Solutions- http://www.experience-rplus.com/
3) Information Builder – Webfocus RStat -Rattle GUI http://www.informationbuilders.com/products/webfocus/PredictiveModeling.html
4) Blue Reference- Inference for R http://inferenceforr.com/default.aspx

  1. Choosing Operating System
      1. Windows

 

Windows remains the most widely used operating system on this planet. If you are experienced in Windows based computing and are active on analytical projects- it would not make sense for you to move to other operating systems. This is also based on the fact that compatibility problems are minimum for Microsoft Windows and the help is extensively documented. However there may be some R packages that would not function well under Windows- if that happens a multiple operating system is your next option.

        1. Enterprise R from Revolution Analytics- Enterprise R from Revolution Analytics has a complete R Development environment for Windows including the use of code snippets to make programming faster. Revolution is also expected to make a GUI available by 2011. Revolution Analytics claims several enhancements for it’s version of R including the use of optimized libraries for faster performance.
      1. MacOS

 

Reasons for choosing MacOS remains its considerable appeal in aesthetically designed software- but MacOS is not a standard Operating system for enterprise systems as well as statistical computing. However open source R claims to be quite optimized and it can be used for existing Mac users. However there seem to be no commercially available versions of R available as of now for this operating system.

      1. Linux

 

        1. Ubuntu
        2. Red Hat Enterprise Linux
        3. Other versions of Linux

 

Linux is considered a preferred operating system by R users due to it having the same open source credentials-much better fit for all R packages and it’s customizability for big data analytics.

Ubuntu Linux is recommended for people making the transition to Linux for the first time. Ubuntu Linux had an marketing agreement with revolution Analytics for an earlier version of Ubuntu- and many R packages can  installed in a straightforward way as Ubuntu/Debian packages are available. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is officially supported by Revolution Analytics for it’s enterprise module. Other versions of Linux popular are Open SUSE.

      1. Multiple operating systems-
        1. Virtualization vs Dual Boot-

 

You can also choose between having a VMware VM Player for a virtual partition on your computers that is dedicated to R based computing or having operating system choice at the startup or booting of your computer. A software program called wubi helps with the dual installation of Linux and Windows.

  1. 64 bit vs 32 bit – Given a choice between 32 bit versus 64 bit versions of the same operating system like Linux Ubuntu, the 64 bit version would speed up processing by an approximate factor of 2. However you need to check whether your current hardware can support 64 bit operating systems and if so- you may want to ask your Information Technology manager to upgrade atleast some operating systems in your analytics work environment to 64 bit operating systems.

 

  1. Hardware choices- At the time of writing this book, the dominant computing paradigm is workstation computing followed by server-client computing. However with the introduction of cloud computing, netbooks, tablet PCs, hardware choices are much more flexible in 2011 than just a couple of years back.

Hardware costs are a significant cost to an analytics environment and are also  remarkably depreciated over a short period of time. You may thus examine your legacy hardware, and your future analytical computing needs- and accordingly decide between the various hardware options available for R.
Unlike other analytical software which can charge by number of processors, or server pricing being higher than workstation pricing and grid computing pricing extremely high if available- R is well suited for all kinds of hardware environment with flexible costs. Given the fact that R is memory intensive (it limits the size of data analyzed to the RAM size of the machine unless special formats and /or chunking is used)- it depends on size of datasets used and number of concurrent users analyzing the dataset. Thus the defining issue is not R but size of the data being analyzed.

    1. Local Computing- This is meant to denote when the software is installed locally. For big data the data to be analyzed would be stored in the form of databases.
      1. Server version- Revolution Analytics has differential pricing for server -client versions but for the open source version it is free and the same for Server or Workstation versions.
      2. Workstation
    2. Cloud Computing- Cloud computing is defined as the delivery of data, processing, systems via remote computers. It is similar to server-client computing but the remote server (also called cloud) has flexible computing in terms of number of processors, memory, and data storage. Cloud computing in the form of public cloud enables people to do analytical tasks on massive datasets without investing in permanent hardware or software as most public clouds are priced on pay per usage. The biggest cloud computing provider is Amazon and many other vendors provide services on top of it. Google is also coming for data storage in the form of clouds (Google Storage), as well as using machine learning in the form of API (Google Prediction API)
      1. Amazon
      2. Google
      3. Cluster-Grid Computing/Parallel processing- In order to build a cluster, you would need the RMpi and the SNOW packages, among other packages that help with parallel processing.
    3. How much resources
      1. RAM-Hard Disk-Processors- for workstation computing
      2. Instances or API calls for cloud computing
  1. Interface Choices
    1. Command Line
    2. GUI
    3. Web Interfaces
  2. Software Component Choices
    1. R dependencies
    2. Packages to install
    3. Recommended Packages
  3. Additional software choices
    1. Additional legacy software
    2. Optimizing your R based computing
    3. Code Editors
      1. Code Analyzers
      2. Libraries to speed up R

citation-  R Development Core Team (2010). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing,Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL http://www.R-project.org.

(Note- this is a draft in progress)

Brief Interview Timo Elliott

Here is a brief interview with Timo Elliott.Timo Elliott is a 19-year veteran of SAP Business Objects.

Ajay- What are the top 5 events in Business Integration and Data Visualization services you saw in 2010 and what are the top three trends you see in these in 2011.


Timo-

Top five events in 2010:

(1) Back to strong market growth. IT spending plummeted last year (BI continued to grow, but more slowly than previous years). This year, organizations reopened their wallets and funded new analytics initiatives — all the signs indicate that BI market growth will be double that of 2009.

(2) The launch of the iPad. Mobile BI has been around for years, but the iPad opened the floodgates of organizations taking a serious look at mobile analytics — and the easy-to-use, executive-friendly iPad dashboards have considerably raised the profile of analytics projects inside organizations.

(3) Data warehousing got exciting again. Decades of incremental improvements (column databases, massively parallel processing, appliances, in-memory processing…) all came together with robust commercial offers that challenged existing data storage and calculation methods. And new “NoSQL” approaches, designed for the new problems of massive amounts of less-structured web data, started moving into the mainstream.

(4) The end of Google Wave, the start of social BI.Google Wave was launched as a rethink of how we could bring together email, instant messaging, and social networks. While Google decided to close down the technology this year, it has left its mark, notably by influencing the future of “social BI”, with several major vendors bringing out commercial products this year.

(5) The start of the big BI merge. While several small independent BI vendors reported strong growth, the major trend of the year was consolidation and integration: the BI megavendors (SAP, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft) increased their market share (sometimes by acquiring smaller vendors, e.g. IBM/SPSS and SAP/Sybase) and integrated analytics with their existing products, blurring the line between BI and other technology areas.

Top three trends next year:

(1) Analytics, reinvented. New DW techniques make it possible to do sub-second, interactive analytics directly against row-level operational data. Now BI processes and interfaces need to be rethought and redesigned to make best use of this — notably by blurring the distinctions between the “design” and “consumption” phases of BI.

(2) Corporate and personal BI come together. The ability to mix corporate and personal data for quick, pragmatic analysis is a common business need. The typical solution to the problem — extracting and combining the data into a local data store (either Excel or a departmental data mart) — pleases users, but introduces duplication and extra costs and makes a mockery of information governance. 2011 will see the rise of systems that let individuals and departments load their data into personal spaces in the corporate environment, allowing pragmatic analytic flexibility without compromising security and governance.

(3) The next generation of business applications. Where are the business applications designed to support what people really do all day, such as implementing this year’s strategy, launching new products, or acquiring another company? 2011 will see the first prototypes of people-focused, flexible, information-centric, and collaborative applications, bringing together the best of business intelligence, “enterprise 2.0”, and existing operational applications.

And one that should happen, but probably won’t:

(4) Intelligence = Information + PEOPLE. Successful analytics isn’t about technology — it’s about people, process, and culture. The biggest trend in 2011 should be organizations spending the majority of their efforts on user adoption rather than technical implementation.                 About- http://timoelliott.com/blog/about

Timo Elliott is a 19-year veteran of SAP BusinessObjects, and has spent the last twenty years working with customers around the world on information strategy.

He works closely with SAP research and innovation centers around the world to evangelize new technology prototypes.

His popular Business Analytics and SAPWeb20 blogs track innovation in analytics and social media, including topics such as augmented corporate reality, collaborative decision-making, and social network analysis.

His PowerPoint Twitter Tools lets presenters see and react to tweets in real time, embedded directly within their slides.

A popular and engaging speaker, Elliott presents regularly to IT and business audiences at international conferences, on subjects such as why BI projects fail and what to do about it, and the intersection of BI and enterprise 2.0.

Prior to Business Objects, Elliott was a computer consultant in Hong Kong and led analytics projects for Shell in New Zealand. He holds a first-class honors degree in Economics with Statistics from Bristol University, England. He blogs on http://timoelliott.com/blog/ (one of the best designed blogs in BI) . You can see more about him personal web site here and photo/sketch blog here. You should follow Timo at http://twitter.com/timoelliott

Art Credit- Timo Elliott

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