Using Rapid Miner and R for Sports Analytics #rstats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Plotters in Rapid Miner 5.2

I almost missed this because of my vacation and traveling

Rapid Miner has a tonne of new stuff (Statuary Ethics Declaration- Rapid Miner has been an advertising partner for Decisionstats – see the right margin)

see

http://rapid-i.com/component/option,com_myblog/Itemid,172/lang,en/

Great New Graphical Plotters

and some flashy work

and a great series of educational lectures

A Simple Explanation of Decision Tree Modeling based on Entropies

Link: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/94454/A-simple-explanation-of-how-entropy-fuels-a-decision-tree-model

Description of some of the basics of decision trees. Simple and hardly any math, I like the plots explaining the basic idea of the entropy as splitting criterion (although we actually calculate gain ratio differently than explained…)

Logistic Regression for Business Analytics using RapidMiner

Link: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/57924/Logistic-regression-for-business-analytics-using-RapidMiner-Part-2

Same as above, but this time for modeling with logistic regression.
Easy to read and covering all basic ideas together with some examples. If you are not familiar with the topic yet, part 1 (see below) might help.

Part 1 (Basics): http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/57801/Logistic-regression-for-business-analytics-using-RapidMiner-Part-1

Deploy Model: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/82024/How-to-deploy-a-logistic-regression-model-using-RapidMiner

Advanced Information: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/99443/Understand-3-critical-steps-in-developing-logistic-regression-models

and lastly a new research project for collaborative data mining

http://www.e-lico.eu/

e-LICO Architecture and Components

The goal of the e-LICO project is to build a virtual laboratory for interdisciplinary collaborative research in data mining and data-intensive sciences. The proposed e-lab will comprise three layers: the e-science and data mining layers will form a generic research environment that can be adapted to different scientific domains by customizing the application layer.

  1. Drag a data set into one of the slots. It will be automatically detected as training data, test data or apply data, depending on whether it has a label or not.
  2. Select a goal. The most frequent one is probably “Predictive Modelling”. All goals have comments, so you see what they can be used for.
  3. Select “Fetch plans” and wait a bit to get a list of processes that solve your problem. Once the planning completes, select one of the processes (you can see a preview at the right) and run it. Alternatively, select multiple (selecting none means selecting all) and evaluate them on your data in a batch.

The assistant strives to generate processes that are compatible with your data. To do so, it performs a lot of clever operations, e.g., it automatically replaces missing values if missing values exist and this is required by the learning algorithm or performs a normalization when using a distance-based learner.

You can install the extension directly by using the Rapid-I Marketplace instead of the old update server. Just go to the preferences and enter http://rapidupdate.de:8180/UpdateServer as the update URL

Of course Rapid Miner has been of the most professional open source analytics company and they have been doing it for a long time now. I am particularly impressed by the product map (see below) and the graphical user interface.

http://rapid-i.com/content/view/186/191/lang,en/

Product Map

Just click on the products in the overview below in order to get more information about Rapid-I products.

 

Rapid-I Product Overview 

 

Knowledge Discovery in Databases -KDD using PostgreSQL and #Rstats

Here is a small brief primer for beginners on configuring an open source database and using an open source analytics package.

All you need to know – is to read!

 

1. download PostgreSQL from
http://www.postgresql.org/download/windowsInstall PostgreSQL

Remember to store /memorize the password for the user postgres!

Create a connection using pgAdmin feature in Start Menu

2. download ODBC driver from
http://www.postgresql.org/ftp/odbc/versions/msi/
and the Win 64 edition from
http://wwwmaster.postgresql.org/download/mirrors-ftp/odbc/versions/msi/psqlodbc_09_00_0310-x64.zip

install ODBC driver

3. Go to

Start Menu\Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Administrative Tools\Data Sources (ODBC)

4. Configure the following details in System DSN and  User DSN using the ADD tabs .Test connection to check if connection is working

5. Start R and install and load library RODBC

6. Use following initial code for R- if you know SQL you can  do the rest
> library(RODBC)

> odbcDataSources(type = c(“all”, “user”, “system”))
SQLServer              PostgreSQL30             PostgreSQL35W
“SQL Server”    “PostgreSQL ANSI(x64)” “PostgreSQL Unicode(x64)”

> ajay=odbcConnect(“PostgreSQL30”, uid = “postgres”, pwd = “XX”)

> sqlTables(ajay)
TABLE_QUALIFIER TABLE_OWNER TABLE_NAME TABLE_TYPE REMARKS
1        postgres      public      names      TABLE

> crimedat <- sqlFetch(ajay, “names”)

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.

 

Predictive Analytics World Conference –New York City and London, UK

Please use the following code  to get a 15% discount on the 2 Day Conference Pass:  AJAYNY11.

Predictive Analytics World Conference –New York City and London, UK

October 17-21, 2011 – New York City, NY (pawcon.com/nyc)
Nov 30 – Dec 1, 2011 – London, UK (pawcon.com/london)

Predictive Analytics World (pawcon.com) is the business-focused event for predictive analytics
professionals, managers and commercial practitioners, covering today’s commercial deployment of
predictive analytics, across industries and across software vendors. The conference delivers case
studies, expertise, and resources to achieve two objectives:

1) Bigger wins: Strengthen the business impact delivered by predictive analytics

2) Broader capabilities: Establish new opportunities with predictive analytics

Case Studies: How the Leading Enterprises Do It

Predictive Analytics World focuses on concrete examples of deployed predictive analytics. The leading
enterprises have signed up to tell their stories, so you can hear from the horse’s mouth precisely how
Fortune 500 analytics competitors and other top practitioners deploy predictive modeling, and what
kind of business impact it delivers.

PAW NEW YORK CITY 2011

PAW’s NYC program is the richest and most diverse yet, featuring over 40 sessions across three tracks
– including both X and Y tracks, and an “Expert/Practitioner” track — so you can witness how predictive
analytics is applied at major companies.

PAW NYC’s agenda covers hot topics and advanced methods such as ensemble models, social data,
search marketing, crowdsourcing, blackbox trading, fraud detection, risk management, survey analysis,
and other innovative applications that benefit organizations in new and creative ways.

WORKSHOPS: PAW NYC also features five full-day pre- and post-conference workshops that
complement the core conference program. Workshop agendas include advanced predictive modeling
methods, hands-on training, an intro to R (the open source analytics system), and enterprise decision
management.

For more see http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011/

PAW LONDON 2011

PAW London’s agenda covers hot topics and advanced methods such as risk management, uplift
(incremental lift) modeling, open source analytics, and crowdsourcing data mining. Case study
presentations cover campaign targeting, churn modeling, next-best-offer, selecting marketing channels,
global analytics deployment, email marketing, HR candidate search, and other innovative applications
that benefit organizations in new and creative ways.

Join PAW and access the best keynotes, sessions, workshops, exposition, expert panel, live demos,
networking coffee breaks, reception, birds-of-a-feather lunches, brand-name enterprise leaders, and

industry heavyweights in the business.

For more see http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/london

CROSS-INDUSTRY APPLICATIONS

Predictive Analytics World is the only conference of its kind, delivering vendor-neutral sessions across
verticals such as banking, financial services, e-commerce, education, government, healthcare, high
technology, insurance, non-profits, publishing, social gaming, retail and telecommunications

And PAW covers the gamut of commercial applications of predictive analytics, including response
modeling, customer retention with churn modeling, product recommendations, fraud detection, online
marketing optimization, human resource decision-making, law enforcement, sales forecasting, and
credit scoring.

Why bring together such a wide range of endeavors? No matter how you use predictive analytics, the
story is the same: Predicatively scoring customers optimizes business performance. Predictive analytics
initiatives across industries leverage the same core predictive modeling technology, share similar project
overhead and data requirements, and face common process challenges and analytical hurdles.

RAVE REVIEWS:

“Hands down, best applied, analytics conference I have ever attended. Great exposure to cutting-edge
predictive techniques and I was able to turn around and apply some of those learnings to my work
immediately. I’ve never been able to say that after any conference I’ve attended before!”

Jon Francis
Senior Statistician
T-Mobile

Read more: Articles and blog entries about PAW can be found at http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/
pressroom.php

VENDORS. Meet the vendors and learn about their solutions, software and service. Discover the best
predictive analytics vendors available to serve your needs – learn what they do and see how they
compare

COLLEAGUES. Mingle, network and hang out with your best and brightest colleagues. Exchange
experiences over lunch, coffee breaks and the conference reception connecting with those professionals
who face the same challenges as you.

GET STARTED. If you’re new to predictive analytics, kicking off a new initiative, or exploring new ways
to position it at your organization, there’s no better place to get your bearings than Predictive Analytics
World. See what other companies are doing, witness vendor demos, participate in discussions with the
experts, network with your colleagues and weigh your options!

For more information:
http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com

View videos of PAW Washington DC, Oct 2010 — now available on-demand:
http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/online-video.php

What is predictive analytics? See the Predictive Analytics Guide:
http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/predictive_analytics.php

If you’d like our informative event updates, sign up at:
http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/signup-us.php

To sign up for the PAW group on LinkedIn, see:
http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/1005097

For inquiries e-mail regsupport@risingmedia.com or call (717) 798-3495.

Here comes PySpread- 85,899,345 rows and 14,316,555 columns

A Bold GNU Head
Image via Wikipedia

Whats new/ One more open source analytics package. Built like a spreadsheet with an ability to import a million cells-

From http://pyspread.sourceforge.net/index.html

about Pyspread is a cross-platform Python spreadsheet application. It is based on and written in the programming language Python.

Instead of spreadsheet formulas, Python expressions are entered into the spreadsheet cells. Each expression returns a Python object that can be accessed from other cells. These objects can represent anything including lists or matrices.

Pyspread screenshot
features In pyspread, cells expect Python expressions and return Python objects. Therefore, complex data types such as lists, trees or matrices can be handled within a single cell. Macros can be used for functions that are too complex for a single expression.

Since Python modules can be easily used without external scripts, arbitrary size rational numbers (via gmpy), fixed point decimal numbers for business calculations, (via the decimal module from the standard library) and advanced statistics including plotting functions (via RPy) can be used in the spreadsheet. Everything is directly available from each cell. Just use the grid

Data can be imported and exported using csv files or the clipboard. Other forms of data exchange is possible using external Python modules.

In  order to simplify sparse matrix editing, pyspread features a three dimensional grid that can be sized up to 85,899,345 rows and 14,316,555 columns (64 bit-systems, depends on row height and column width). Note that importing a million cells requires about 500 MB of memory.

The concept of pyspread allows doing everything from each cell that a Python script can do. This may very well include deleting your hard drive or sending your data via the Internet. Of course this is a non-issue if you sandbox properly or if you only use self developed spreadsheets. Since this is not the case for everyone (see the discussion at lwn.net), a GPG signature based trust model for spreadsheet files has been introduced. It ensures that only your own trusted files are executed on loading. Untrusted files are displayed in safe mode. You can trust a file manually. Inspect carefully.

Pyspread screenshot

requirements Pyspread runs on Linux, Windows and *nix platforms with GTK+ support. There are reports that it works with MacOS X as well. If you would like to contribute by testing on OS X please contact me.

Dependencies

Highly recommended for full functionality

  • PyMe >=0.8.1, Note for Windows™ users: If you want to use signatures without compiling PyMe try out Gpg4win.
  • gmpy >=1.1.0 and
  • rpy >=1.0.3.
maturity Pyspread is in early Beta release. This means that the core functionality is fully implemented but the program needs testing and polish.

and from the wiki

http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/pyspread/index.php?title=Main_Page

a spreadsheet with more powerful functions and data structures that are accessible inside each cell. Something like Python that empowers you to do things quickly. And yes, it should be free and it should run on Linux as well as on Windows. I looked around and found nothing that suited me. Therefore, I started pyspread.

Concept

  • Each cell accepts any input that works in a Python command line.
  • The inputs are parsed and evaluated by Python’s eval command.
  • The result objects are accessible via a 3D numpy object array.
  • String representations of the result objects are displayed in the cells.

Benefits

  • Each cell returns a Python object. This object can be anything including arrays and third party library objects.
  • Generator expressions can be used efficiently for data manipulation.
  • Efficient numpy slicing is used.
  • numpy methods are accessible for the data.

Installation

  1. Download the pyspread tarball or zip and unzip at a convenient place
  2. In case you do not have it already get and install Python, wxpython and numpy
If you want the examples to work, install gmpy, R and rpy
Really do check the version requirements that are mentioned on http://pyspread.sf.net
  1. Get install privileges (e.g. become root)
  2. Change into the directory and type
python setup.py install
Windows: Replace “python” with your Python interpreter (absolute path)
  1. Become normal user again
  2. Start pyspread by typing
pyspread
  1. Enjoy

Links

Next on Spreadsheet wishlist-

a MSI bundle /Windows Self Installer which has all dependencies bundled in it-linking to PostGresSQL 😉 etc

way to go Mr Martin Manns

mmanns < at > gmx < dot > net