Open Source Analytics

My guest blog at Allanalytics.com is now up

http://www.allanalytics.com/ is the exciting community which looks at the business aspects to the analytics market with a great lineup of pedigree writers.

It is basically a point/counterpoint for and against open source analytics. I feel there is a scope of lot of improvement before open source dominates the world of analytics software like Android, Linux Web Server do in their markets. Part of this reason is – there needs to be more , much more investment in analytics research, development, easier to use interfaces, Big Data integration and rewarding ALL the writers of code regardless of whether the code is proprietary or open source.

A last word- I think open source analytics AND proprietary analytics software will have to learn to live with one another, with game theory dictating their response and counter-response. More competition is good, and open source is an AND option not an OR option to existing status quo.

You can read the full blog discussion at http://www.allanalytics.com/author.asp?section_id=1408&doc_id=233454&piddl_msgorder=thrd#msgs

Hopefully discussion would be more analytical than passionate 🙂 and greater investments in made in analytics by all sides.

 

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)

 

The Great Game- How social media changes the Intelligence Industry

Since time immemorial, countries and corporations have used spies to displace existing equilibriums in balance of power or market share dynamics. An integral part of that was technology. From the pox infested rugs given to natives, to the plague rats, to the smuggling of the secret of silk and gunpowder from China to the West to the latest research in cloud seeding by China and Glaciars melting by India- technology espionage has been an integral part in keeping up with each other.

For the first time in history, technology has evolved to the point where tools for communicating securely , storing data has become cheap to the point of just having a small iPhone 3GS with applications for secure transmission. From an analytical purpose the need for analyzing signal from noise and the criticality in mapping chatter with events (like Major Hasan’s online activities)  has also created an opportunity for social media as well as an headache for the people involved. With Citizen Journalism, foreign relations office, and ambassadors with their bully pulpits have been brought down to defending news leaked by Twitter ( Iran) You Tube ( Thailand/Burma/Tibet) and Blogs ( Russia/Georgia). The rise of bot nets, dark clouds to create disruptions as well as hack into accounts for enhancing favourable noise and reducing unfavourable signals has only increased. Blogs have potential to influence customer behavior as they are seen more credible than public relations which is mostly public and rarely on relations.

Techniques like sentiment analysis , social network analysis, text mining and co relation of keywords to triggers remain active research points.

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The United States remains a leader as you can only think creatively out of a box if you are permitted to behave accordingly out of the box. The remaining countries are torn between a  mix of admiration , envy and plain old copy cat techniques. The rising importance of communities that act more tribal than hitherto loyal technology user lists is the reason almost all major corporates actively seek to cultivate social media communities. The market for blogs and twitter in China or Iran or Russia will have impacts on those government’s efforts to manage their growth as per their national strategic interests. Just like the title of an old and quaint novel- “The Brave New World” of social media and it’s convergence with increasing amounts of text data generated on customers, or citizens is evolving into creating new boundaries and space for itself.A fascinating Great Game in itself.