Business Metrics (a partial extract from my upcoming book “R for Business Analytics”
Business Metrics are important variables that are collected on a periodic basis to assess the health and sustainability of a business. They should have the following properties-
1) What is a Business Metric-The absence of collection of regular update of the business metric could cause business disruption by incorrect and incomplete decision making.
2) Cost of Business Metrics- The costs of collection, storage and updating of the business metric is less than the opportunity costs of wrong decision making cause by lack of information of that business metric.
3) Continuity in your Business Metrics- The business metrics are continuous in comparing across time periods and business units- if necessary the assumptions for smoothing the comparisons should be listed in the business metric presentation itself.
4) Simplify your Business Metrics– Business metrics can be derived as well from other business metrics. If necessary and to avoid clutter only the most important business metrics should be presented, or the metrics with the biggest deviation from past trends should be mentioned.
5) Normalize your Business Metrics- Scale of the business metric units should be comparable to other business metrics as well as significant to emphasize the difference in numbers.
6) Standardize your Business Metrics– Dimension of business metrics should be increased to enhance comparison and contrasts without enhancing complexity. This means adding an extra dimension for analysis rather than a 2 by 2 comparison, to add time /geography/ employee/business owner as a dimension .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
Analyzing data can have many challenges associated with it. In the case of business analytics data, these challenges or constraints can have a marked effect on the quality and timeliness of the analysis as well as the expected versus actual payoff from the analytical results.
Challenges of Analytical Data Processing-
1) Data Formats- Reading in complete data, without losing any part (or meta data), or adding in superfluous details (that increase the scope). Technical constraints of data formats are relatively easy to navigate thanks to ODBC and well documented and easily search-able syntax and language.
The costs of additional data augmentation (should we pay for additional credit bureau data to be appended) , time of storing and processing the data (every column needed for analysis can add in as many rows as whole dataset, which can be a time enhancing problem if you are considering an extra 100 variables with a few million rows), but above all that of business relevance and quality guidelines will ensure basic data input and massaging are considerable parts of whole analytical project timeline.
2) Data Quality-Perfect data exists in a perfect world. The price of perfect information is one business will mostly never budget or wait for. To deliver inferences and results based on summaries of data which has missing, invalid, outlier data embedded within it makes the role of an analyst just as important as which ever tool is chosen to remove outliers, replace missing values, or treat invalid data.
3) Project Scope-
How much data? How much Analytical detail versus High Level Summary? Timelines for delivery as well as refresh of data analysis? Checks (statistical as well as business)?
How easy is it to load and implement the new analysis in existing Information Technology Infrastructure? These are some of the outer parameters that can limit both your analytical project scope, your analytical tool choice, and your processing methodology.
4) Output Results vis a vis stakeholder expectation management-
Stakeholders like to see results, not constraints, hypothesis ,assumptions , p-value, or chi -square value. Output results need to be streamlined to a decision management process to justify the investment of human time and effort in an analytical project, choice,training and navigating analytical tool complexities and constraints are subset of it. Optimum use of graphical display is a part of aligning results to a more palatable form to stakeholders, provided graphics are done nicely.
Eg Marketing wants to get more sales so they need a clear campaign, to target certain customers via specific channels with specified collateral. In order to base their business judgement, business analytics needs to validate , cross validate and sometimes invalidate this business decision making with clear transparent methods and processes.
Given a dataset- the basic analytical steps that an analyst will do with R are as follows. This is meant as a note for analysts at a beginner level with R.
Package -specific syntax
update.packages() #This updates all packages
install.packages(package1) #This installs a package locally, a one time event
library(package1) #This loads a specified package in the current R session, which needs to be done every R session
CRAN________LOCAL HARD DISK_________R SESSION is the top to bottom hierarchy of package storage and invocation.
ls() #This lists all objects or datasets currently active in the R session
> names(assetsCorr) #This gives the names of variables within a dataframe
 “AssetClass” “LargeStocksUS” “SmallStocksUS”
 “CorporateBondsUS” “TreasuryBondsUS” “RealEstateUS”
 “StocksCanada” “StocksUK” “StocksGermany”
 “StocksSwitzerland” “StocksEmergingMarkets”
> dim(assetsCorr) #gives dimensions observations and variable number
 12 11
str(Dataset) – This gives the structure of the dataset (note structure gives both the names of variables within dataset as well as dimensions of the dataset)
head(dataset,n1) gives the first n1 rows of dataset while
tail(dataset,n2) gives the last n2 rows of a dataset where n1,n2 are numbers and dataset is the name of the object (here a data frame that is being considered)
summary(dataset) gives you a brief summary of all variables while
describe(dataset) gives a detailed description on the variables
simple graphics can be given by
As you can see in above cases, there are multiple ways to get even basic analysis about data in R- however most of the syntax commands are intutively understood (like hist for histogram, t.test for t test, plot for plot).
For detailed analysis throughout the scope of analysis, for a business analytics user it is recommended to using multiple GUI, and multiple packages. Even for highly specific and specialized analytical tasks it is recommended to check for a GUI that incorporates the required package.
Predictive Analytics World is pleased to announce on-demand access to the videos of PAW Washington DC, October 2010, including over 30 sessions and keynotes that you may view at your convenience. Access this leading predictive analytics content online now:
Select individual conference sessions, or recognize savings by registering for access to one or two full days of sessions. These on-demand videos deliver PAW DC right to your desk, covering hot topics and advanced methods such as:
PAW DC videos feature over 25 speakers with case studies from leading enterprises such as: CIBC, CEB, Forrester, Macy’s, MetLife, Microsoft, Miles Kimball, Monster.com, Oracle, Paychex, SunTrust, Target, UPMC, Xerox, Yahoo!, YMCA, and more.
Keynote: Five Ways Predictive Analytics Cuts Enterprise Risk
Eric Siegel,Ph.D., Program Chair, Predictive Analytics World
All business is an exercise in risk management. All organizations would benefit from measuring, tracking and computing risk as a core process, much like insurance companies do.
Predictive analytics does the trick, one customer at a time. This technology is a data-driven means to compute the risk each customer will defect, not respond to an expensive mailer, consume a retention discount even if she were not going to leave in the first place, not be targeted for a telephone solicitation that would have landed a sale, commit fraud, or become a “loss customer” such as a bad debtor or an insurance policy-holder with high claims.
In this keynote session, Dr. Eric Siegel reveals:
– Five ways predictive analytics evolves your enterprise to reduce risk
– Hidden sources of risk across operational functions
– What every business should learn from insurance companies
– How advancements have reversed the very meaning of fraud
– Why “man + machine” teams are greater than the sum of their parts for enterprise decision support
Platinum Sponsor Presentation: Analytics – The Beauty of Diversity
Anne H. Milley,Senior Director of Analytic Strategy, Worldwide Product Marketing, SAS
Analytics contributes to, and draws from, multiple disciplines. The unifying theme of “making the world a better place” is bred from diversity. For instance, the same methods used in econometrics might be used in market research, psychometrics and other disciplines. In a similar way, diverse paradigms are needed to best solve problems, reveal opportunities and make better decisions. This is why we evolve capabilities to formulate and solve a wide range of problems through multiple integrated languages and interfaces. Extending that, we have provided integration with other languages so that users can draw on the disciplines and paradigms needed to best practice their craft.
Gold Sponsor Presentation: Predictive Analytics Accelerate Insight for Financial Services
Finbarr Deely,Director of Business Development,ParAccel
Financial services organizations face immense hurdles in maintaining profitability and building competitive advantage. Financial services organizations must perform “what-if” scenario analysis, identify risks, and detect fraud patterns. The advanced analytic complexity required often makes such analysis slow and painful, if not impossible. This presentation outlines the analytic challenges facing these organizations and provides a clear path to providing the accelerated insight needed to perform in today’s complex business environment to reduce risk, stop fraud and increase profits. * The value of predictive analytics in Accelerating Insight * Financial Services Analytic Case Studies * Brief Overview of ParAccel Analytic Database
TOPIC: SURVEY ANALYSIS Case Study: YMCA Turning Member Satisfaction Surveys into an Actionable Narrative
Dean Abbott,President, Abbott Analytics
Employees are a key constituency at the Y and previous analysis has shown that their attitudes have a direct bearing on Member Satisfaction. This session will describe a successful approach for the analysis of YMCA employee surveys. Decision trees are built and examined in depth to identify key questions in describing key employee satisfaction metrics, including several interesting groupings of employee attitudes. Our approach will be contrasted with other factor analysis and regression-based approaches to survey analysis that we used initially. The predictive models described are currently in use and resulted in both greater understanding of employee attitudes, and a revised “short-form” survey with fewer key questions identified by the decision trees as the most important predictors.
TOPIC: INDUSTRY TRENDS 2010 Data Minter Survey Results: Highlights
Karl Rexer,Ph.D., Rexer Analytics
Do you want to know the views, actions, and opinions of the data mining community? Each year, Rexer Analytics conducts a global survey of data miners to find out. This year at PAW we unveil the results of our 4th Annual Data Miner Survey. This session will present the research highlights, such as:
Multiple Case Studies: U.S. DoD, U.S. DHS, SSA Text Mining: Lessons Learned
John F. Elder,Chief Scientist, Elder Research, Inc.
Text Mining is the “Wild West” of data mining and predictive analytics – the potential for gain is huge, the capability claims are often tall tales, and the “land rush” for leadership is very much a race.
In solving unstructured (text) analysis challenges, we found that principles from inductive modeling – learning relationships from labeled cases – has great power to enhance text mining. Dr. Elder highlights key technical breakthroughs discovered while working on projects for leading government agencies, including: Text Mining is the “Wild West” of data mining and predictive analytics – the potential for gain is huge, the capability claims are often tall tales, and the “land rush” for leadership is very much a race.
– Prioritizing searches for the Dept. of Homeland Security
– Quick decisions for Social Security Admin. disability
– Document discovery for the Dept. of Defense
– Disease discovery for the Dept. of Homeland Security
Keynote: How Target Gets the Most out of Its Guest Data to Improve Marketing ROI
Andrew Pole,Senior Manager, Media and Database Marketing, Target
In this session, you’ll learn how Target leverages its own internal guest data to optimize its direct marketing – with the ultimate goal of enhancing our guests’ shopping experience and driving in-store and online performance. You will hear about what guest data is available at Target, how and where we collect it, and how it is used to improve the performance and relevance of direct marketing vehicles. Furthermore, we will discuss Target’s development and usage of guest segmentation, response modeling, and optimization as means to suppress poor performers from mailings, determine relevant product categories and services for online targeted content, and optimally assign receipt marketing offers to our guests when offer quantities are limited.
Platinum Sponsor Presentation: Driving Analytics Into Decision Making
Jason Verlen,Director, SPSS Product Strategy & Management, IBM Software Group
Organizations looking to dramatically improve their business outcomes are turning to decision management, a convergence of technology and business processes that is used to streamline and predict the outcome of daily decision-making. IBM SPSS Decision Management technology provides the critical link between analytical insight and recommended actions. In this session you’ll learn how Decision Management software integrates analytics with business rules and business applications for front-line systems such as call center applications, insurance claim processing, and websites. See how you can improve every customer interaction, minimize operational risk, reduce fraud and optimize results.
TOPIC: DATA INFRASTRUCTURE AND INTEGRATION Case Study: Macy’s The world is not flat (even though modeling software has to think it is)
Paul Coleman,Director of Marketing Statistics, Macy’s Inc.
Software for statistical modeling generally use flat files, where each record represents a unique case with all its variables. In contrast most large databases are relational, where data are distributed among various normalized tables for efficient storage. Variable creation and model scoring engines are necessary to bridge data mining and storage needs. Development datasets taken from a sampled history require snapshot management. Scoring datasets are taken from the present timeframe and the entire available universe. Organizations, with significant data, must decide when to store or calculate necessary data and understand the consequences for their modeling program.
TOPIC: CUSTOMER VALUE Case Study: SunTrust When One Model Will Not Solve the Problem – Using Multiple Models to Create One Solution
Dudley Gwaltney,Group Vice President, Analytical Modeling, SunTrust Bank
In 2007, SunTrust Bank developed a series of models to identify clients likely to have large changes in deposit balances. The models include three basic binary and two linear regression models.
Based on the models, 15% of SunTrust clients were targeted as those most likely to have large balance changes. These clients accounted for 65% of the absolute balance change and 60% of the large balance change clients. The targeted clients are grouped into a portfolio and assigned to individual SunTrust Retail Branch. Since 2008, the portfolio generated a 2.6% increase in balances over control.
Using the SunTrust example, this presentation will focus on:
TOPIC: RESPONSE & CROSS-SELL Case Study: Paychex Staying One Step Ahead of the Competition – Development of a Predictive 401(k) Marketing and Sales Campaign
Jason Fox,Information Systems and Portfolio Manager,Paychex
In-depth case study of Paychex, Inc. utilizing predictive modeling to turn the tides on competitive pressures within their own client base. Paychex, a leading provider of payroll and human resource solutions, will guide you through the development of a Predictive 401(k) Marketing and Sales model. Through the use of sophisticated data mining techniques and regression analysis the model derives the probability a client will add retirement services products with Paychex or with a competitor. Session will include roadblocks that could have ended development and ROI analysis. Speaker: Frank Fiorille, Director of Enterprise Risk Management, Paychex Speaker: Jason Fox, Risk Management Analyst, Paychex
TOPIC: SEGMENTATION Practitioner: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Segmentation Do’s and Don’ts
Daymond Ling,Senior Director, Modelling & Analytics,Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
The concept of Segmentation is well accepted in business and has withstood the test of time. Even with the advent of new artificial intelligence and machine learning methods, this old war horse still has its place and is alive and well. Like all analytical methods, when used correctly it can lead to enhanced market positioning and competitive advantage, while improper application can have severe negative consequences.
This session will explore what are the elements of success, and what are the worse practices that lead to failure. The relationship between segmentation and predictive modeling will also be discussed to clarify when it is appropriate to use one versus the other, and how to use them together synergistically.
TOPIC: SOCIAL DATA
Thought Leadership Social Network Analysis: Killer Application for Cloud Analytics
James Kobielus,Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are a potential goldmine of insights on what is truly going through customers´minds. Every company wants to know whether, how, how often, and by whom they´re being mentioned across the billowing new cloud of social media. Just as important, every company wants to influence those discussions in their favor, target new business, and harvest maximum revenue potential. In this session, Forrester analyst James Kobielus identifies fruitful applications of social network analysis in customer service, sales, marketing, and brand management. He presents a roadmap for enterprises to leverage their inline analytics initiatives and leverage high-performance data warehousing (DW) clouds and appliances in order to analyze shifting patterns of customer sentiment, influence, and propensity. Leveraging Forrester’s ongoing research in advanced analytics and customer relationship management, Kobielus will discuss industry trends, commercial modeling tools, and emerging best practices in social network analysis, which represents a game-changing new discipline in predictive analytics.
Director of Database Marketing, Life Line Screening
While Life Line is successfully executing a US CRM roadmap, they are also beginning this same evolution abroad. They are beginning in the UK where Merkle procured data and built a response model that is pulling responses over 30% higher than competitors. This presentation will give an overview of the US CRM roadmap, and then focus on the beginning of their strategy abroad, focusing on the data procurement they could not get anywhere else but through Merkle and the successful modeling and analytics for the UK. Speaker: Ozgur Dogan, VP, Quantitative Solutions Group, Merkle Inc Speaker: Trish Mathe, Director of Database Marketing, Life Line Screening
Marketers use surveys to create enterprise wide applicable strategic insights to: (1) develop segmentation schemes, (2) summarize consumer behaviors and attitudes for the whole US population, and (3) use multiple surveys to draw unified views about their target audience. However, these insights are not directly addressable and scalable to the whole consumer universe which is very important when applying the power of survey intelligence to the one to one consumer marketing problems marketers routinely face. Acxiom partnered with Forrester Research, creating addressable and scalable applications of Forrester’s Technographics Survey and applied it successfully to a number of industries and applications.
TOPIC: HEALTHCARE Case Study: UPMC Health Plan A Predictive Model for Hospital Readmissions
Scott Zasadil,Senior Scientist, UPMC Health Plan
Hospital readmissions are a significant component of our nation’s healthcare costs. Predicting who is likely to be readmitted is a challenging problem. Using a set of 123,951 hospital discharges spanning nearly three years, we developed a model that predicts an individual’s 30-day readmission should they incur a hospital admission. The model uses an ensemble of boosted decision trees and prior medical claims and captures 64% of all 30-day readmits with a true positive rate of over 27%. Moreover, many of the ‘false’ positives are simply delayed true positives. 53% of the predicted 30-day readmissions are readmitted within 180 days.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
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.
Multiple operating systems-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
How much resources
RAM-Hard Disk-Processors- for workstation computing
Instances or API calls for cloud computing
Software Component Choices
Packages to install
Additional software choices
Additional legacy software
Optimizing your R based computing
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.