FaceBook IPO- Who hacked whom?

Some thoughts on the FB IPO-

1) Is Zuck reading emails on his honeymoon? Where is he?

2) In 3 days FB lost 34 billion USD in market valuation. Thats enough to buy AOL,Yahoo, LinkedIn and Twitter (combined)

3) People are now shorting FB based on 3-4 days of trading performance. Maybe they know more ARIMA !

4) Who made money on the over-pricing in terms on employees who sold on 1 st day, financial bankers who did the same?

5) Who lost money on the first three days due to Nasdaq’s problems?

6) What is the exact technical problem that Nasdaq had?

7) The much deplored FaceBook Price/Earnings ratio (99) is still comparable to AOL’s (85) and much less than LI (620!). see http://www.google.com/finance?cid=296878244325128

8) Maybe FB can stop copying Google’s ad model (which Google invented) and go back to the drawing table. Like a FB kind of Paypal

9) There are more experts on the blogosphere than experts in Wall Street.

10) No blogger is willing to admit that they erred in the optimism on the great white IPO hope.

I did. Mea culpa. I thought FB is a good stock. I would buy it still- but the rupee tanked by 10% since past 1 week against the dollar.


I am now waiting for Chinese social network market to open with IPO’s. Thats walled gardens within walled gardens of Jade and Bamboo.

Related- Art Work of Another 100 billion dollar company (2006)

New RCommander with ggplot #rstats


My favorite GUI (or one of them) R Commander has a relatively new plugin called KMGGplot2. Until now Deducer was the only GUI with ggplot features , but the much lighter and more popular R Commander has been a long champion in people wanting to pick up R quickly.



RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2: Rcmdr Plug-In for Kaplan-Meier Plot and Other Plots by Using the ggplot2 Package


As you can see by the screenshot- it makes ggplot even easier for people (like R  newbies and experienced folks alike)


This package is an R Commander plug-in for Kaplan-Meier plot and other plots by using the ggplot2 package.

Version: 0.1-0
Depends: R (≥ 2.15.0), stats, methods, grid, Rcmdr (≥ 1.8-4), ggplot2 (≥ 0.9.1)
Imports: tcltk2 (≥ 1.2-3), RColorBrewer (≥ 1.0-5), scales (≥ 0.2.1), survival (≥ 2.36-14)
Published: 2012-05-18
Author: Triad sou. and Kengo NAGASHIMA
Maintainer: Triad sou. <triadsou at gmail.com>
License: GPL-2
CRAN checks: RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2 results


NEWS file for the RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2 package


Changes in version 0.1-0 (2012-05-18)

 o Restructuring implementation approach for efficient
 o Added options() for storing package specific options (e.g.,
   font size, font family, ...).
 o Added a theme: theme_simple().
 o Added a theme element: theme_rect2().
 o Added a list box for facet_xx() functions in some menus
   (Thanks to Professor Murtaza Haider).
 o Kaplan-Meier plot: added confidence intervals.
 o Box plot: added violin plots.
 o Bar chart for discrete variables: deleted dynamite plots.
 o Bar chart for discrete variables: added stacked bar charts.
 o Scatter plot matrix: added univariate plots at diagonal
   positions (ggplot2::plotmatrix).
 o Deleted the dummy data for histograms, which is large in


Changes in version 0.0-4 (2011-07-28)

 o Fixed "scale_y_continuous(formatter = "percent")" to
   "scale_y_continuous(labels = percent)" for ggplot2
   (>= 0.9.0).
 o Fixed "legend = FALSE" to "show_guide = FALSE" for
   ggplot2 (>= 0.9.0).
 o Fixed the DESCRIPTION file for ggplot2 (>= 0.9.0) dependency.


Changes in version 0.0-3 (2011-07-28; FIRST RELEASE VERSION)

 o Kaplan-Meier plot: Show no. at risk table on outside.
 o Histogram: Color coding.
 o Histogram: Density estimation.
 o Q-Q plot: Create plots based on a maximum likelihood estimate
   for the parameters of the selected theoretical distribution.
 o Q-Q plot: Create plots based on a user-specified theoretical
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: Box plot.
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: Mean plus/minus S.D.
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: Mean plus/minus S.D. (Bar plot).
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: 95 percent Confidence interval
   (t distribution).
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: 95 percent Confidence interval
 o Scatter plot: Fitting a linear regression.
 o Scatter plot: Smoothing with LOESS for small datasets or GAM
   with a cubic regression basis for large data.
 o Scatter plot matrix: Fitting a linear regression.
 o Scatter plot matrix: Smoothing with LOESS for small datasets
   or GAM with a cubic regression basis for large data.
 o Line chart: Normal line chart.
 o Line chart: Line char with a step function.
 o Line chart: Area plot.
 o Pie chart: Pie chart.
 o Bar chart for discrete variables: Bar chart for discrete
 o Contour plot: Color coding.
 o Contour plot: Heat map.
 o Distribution plot: Normal distribution.
 o Distribution plot: t distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Chi-square distribution.
 o Distribution plot: F distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Exponential distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Uniform distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Beta distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Cauchy distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Logistic distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Log-normal distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Gamma distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Weibull distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Binomial distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Poisson distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Geometric distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Hypergeometric distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Negative binomial distribution.

Happy $100 Billion to Mark Zuckerberg Productions !

Heres to an expected $100 billion market valuation to the latest Silicon Valley Legend, Facebook- A Mark Zuckerberg Production.

Some milestones that made FB what it is-

1) Beating up MySpace, Ibibo, Google Orkut combined

2) Smart timely acquisitions from Friend feed , to Instagram

3) Superb infrastructure for 900 million accounts, fast interface rollouts, and a policy of never deleting data. Some of this involved creating new technology like Cassandra. There have been no anti-trust complaints against FB’s behavior particularly as it simply stuck to being the cleanest interface offering a social network

4) Much envied and copied features like Newsfeed, App development on the FB platform, Social Gaming as revenue streams

5) Replacing Google as the hot techie employer, just like Google did to Microsoft.

6) An uncanny focus, including walking away from a billion dollars from Yahoo,resisting Google, Apple’s Ping, imposing design changes unilaterally, implementing data sharing only with flexible partners  and strategic investors (like Bing)

FB has made more money for more people than any other company in the past ten years. Here’s wishing it an even more interesting next ten years! With 900 million users if they could integrate a PayPal like system, or create an alternative to Adsense for content creators, they could create an all new internet economy – one which is more open than the Google dominated internet ; 0


Software Review- BigML.com – Machine Learning meets the Cloud

I had a chance to dekko the new startup BigML https://bigml.com/ and was suitably impressed by the briefing and my own puttering around the site. Here is my review-

1) The website is very intutively designed- You can create a dataset from an uploaded file in one click and you can create a Decision Tree model in one click as well. I wish other cloud computing websites like  Google Prediction API make design so intutive and easy to understand. Also unlike Google Prediction API, the models are not black box models, but have a description which can be understood.

2) It includes some well known data sources for people trying it out. They were kind enough to offer 5 invite codes for readers of Decisionstats ( if you want to check it yourself, use the codes below the post, note they are one time only , so the first five get the invites.

BigML is still invite only but plan to get into open release soon.

3) Data Sources can only be by uploading files (csv) but they plan to change this hopefully to get data from buckets (s3? or Google?) and from URLs.

4) The one click operation to convert data source into a dataset shows a histogram (distribution) of individual variables.The back end is clojure , because the team explained it made the easiest sense and fit with Java. The good news (?) is you would never see the clojure code at the back end. You can read about it from http://clojure.org/

As cloud computing takes off (someday) I expect clojure popularity to take off as well.

Clojure is a dynamic programming language that targets the Java Virtual Machine (and the CLR, and JavaScript). It is designed to be a general-purpose language, combining the approachability and interactive development of a scripting language with an efficient and robust infrastructure for multithreaded programming. Clojure is a compiled language – it compiles directly to JVM bytecode, yet remains completely dynamic. Every feature supported by Clojure is supported at runtime. Clojure provides easy access to the Java frameworks, with optional type hints and type inference, to ensure that calls to Java can avoid reflection.

Clojure is a dialect of Lisp


5) As of now decision trees is the only distributed algol, but they expect to roll out other machine learning stuff soon. Hopefully this includes regression (as logit and linear) and k means clustering. The trees are created and pruned in real time which gives a slightly animated (and impressive effect). and yes model building is an one click operation.

The real time -live pruning is really impressive and I wonder why /how it can ever be replicated in other software based on desktop, because of the sheer interactive nature.


Making the model is just half the work. Creating predictions and scoring the model is what is really the money-earner. It is one click and customization is quite intuitive. It is not quite PMML compliant yet so I hope some Zemanta like functionality can be added so huge amounts of models can be applied to predictions or score data in real time.


If you are a developer/data hacker, you should check out this section too- it is quite impressive that the designers of BigML have planned for API access so early.


BigML.io gives you:

  • Secure programmatic access to all your BigML resources.
  • Fully white-box access to your datasets and models.
  • Asynchronous creation of datasets and models.
  • Near real-time predictions.


Note: For your convenience, some of the snippets below include your real username and API key.

Please keep them secret.


BigML.io conforms to the design principles of Representational State Transfer (REST)BigML.io is enterely HTTP-based.

BigML.io gives you access to four basic resources: SourceDatasetModel and Prediction. You cancreatereadupdate, and delete resources using the respective standard HTTP methods: POSTGET,PUT and DELETE.

All communication with BigML.io is JSON formatted except for source creation. Source creation is handled with a HTTP PUT using the “multipart/form-data” content-type


All access to BigML.io must be performed over HTTPS

and https://bigml.com/developers/quick_start ( In think an R package which uses JSON ,RCurl  would further help in enhancing ease of usage).



Overall a welcome addition to make software in the real of cloud computing and statistical computation/business analytics both easy to use and easy to deploy with fail safe mechanisms built in.

Check out https://bigml.com/ for yourself to see.

The invite codes are here -one time use only- first five get the invites- so click and try your luck, machine learning on the cloud.

If you dont get an invite (or it is already used, just leave your email there and wait a couple of days to get approval)

  1. https://bigml.com/accounts/register/?code=E1FE7
  2. https://bigml.com/accounts/register/?code=09991
  3. https://bigml.com/accounts/register/?code=5367D
  4. https://bigml.com/accounts/register/?code=76EEF
  5. https://bigml.com/accounts/register/?code=742FD

Facebook Search- The fall of the machines

Increasingly I am beginning to search more and more on Facebook. This is for the following reasons-

1) Facebook is walled off to Google (mostly). While within Facebook , I get both people results and content results (from Bing).

Bing is an okay alternative , though not as fast as Google Instant.

2) Cleaner Web Results When Facebook increases the number of results from 3 top links to say 10 top links, there should be more outbound traffic from FB search to websites.For some reason Google continues to show 14 pages of results… Why? Why not limit to just one page.

3) Better People Search than  Pipl and Google. But not much (or any) image search. This is curious and I am hoping the Instagram results would be added to search results.

4) I am hoping for any company Facebook or Microsoft to challenge Adsense . Adwords already has rivals. Adsense is a de facto monopoly and my experiences in advertising show that content creators can make much more money from a better Adsense (especially ) if Adsense and Adwords do not have a conflict of interest from same advertisers.

Adwords should have been a special case of Adsense for Google.com but it is not.

5) Machine learning can only get you from tau to delta tau. When ad click behavior is inherently dependent on humans who behave mostly on chaotic , or genetic models than linear CPC models. I find FB has an inherent advantage in the quantity and quality of data collected on people behavior rather than click behavior. They are also more aggressive and less apologetic about behavorially targeted  ads.

Additional point- Analytics for Google Analytics is not as rich as analytics from Facebook pages in terms of demographic variables. This can be tested by anyone.


Book Review- Machine Learning for Hackers

This is review of the fashionably named book Machine Learning for Hackers by Drew Conway and John Myles White (O’Reilly ). The book is about hacking code in R.


The preface introduces the reader to the authors conception of what machine learning and hacking is all about. If the name of the book was machine learning for business analytsts or data miners, I am sure the content would have been unchanged though the popularity (and ambiguity) of the word hacker can often substitute for its usefulness. Indeed the many wise and learned Professors of statistics departments through out the civilized world would be mildly surprised and bemused by their day to day activities as hacking or teaching hackers. The book follows a case study and example based approach and uses the GGPLOT2 package within R programming almost to the point of ignoring any other native graphics system based in R. It can be quite useful for the aspiring reader who wishes to understand and join the booming market for skilled talent in statistical computing.

Chapter 1 has a very useful set of functions for data cleansing and formatting. It walks you through the basics of formatting based on dates and conditions, missing value and outlier treatment and using ggplot package in R for graphical analysis. The case study used is an Infochimps dataset with 60,000 recordings of UFO sightings. The case study is lucid, and done at a extremely helpful pace illustrating the powerful and flexible nature of R functions that can be used for data cleansing.The chapter mentions text editors and IDEs but fails to list them in a tabular format, while listing several other tables like Packages used in the book. It also jumps straight from installation instructions to functions in R without getting into the various kinds of data types within R or specifying where these can be referenced from. It thus assumes a higher level of basic programming understanding for the reader than the average R book.

Chapter 2 discusses data exploration, and has a very clear set of diagrams that explain the various data summary operations that are performed routinely. This is an innovative approach and will help students or newcomers to the field of data analysis. It introduces the reader to type determination functions, as well different kinds of encoding. The introduction to creating functions is quite elegant and simple , and numerical summary methods are explained adequately. While the chapter explains data exploration with the help of various histogram options in ggplot2 , it fails to create a more generic framework for data exploration or rules to assist the reader in visual data exploration in non standard data situations. While the examples are very helpful for a reader , there needs to be slightly more depth to step out of the example and into a framework for visual data exploration (or references for the same). A couple of case studies however elaborately explained cannot do justice to the vast field of data exploration and especially visual data exploration.

Chapter 3 discussed binary classification for the specific purpose for spam filtering using a dataset from SpamAssassin. It introduces the reader to the naïve Bayes classifier and the principles of text mining suing the tm package in R. Some of the example codes could have been better commented for easier readability in the book. Overall it is quite a easy tutorial for creating a naïve Bayes classifier even for beginners.

Chapter 4 discusses the issues in importance ranking and creating recommendation systems specifically in the case of ordering email messages into important and not important. It introduces the useful grepl, gsub, strsplit, strptime ,difftime and strtrim functions for parsing data. The chapter further introduces the reader to the concept of log (and affine) transformations in a lucid and clear way that can help even beginners learn this powerful transformation concept. Again the coding within this chapter is sparsely commented which can cause difficulties to people not used to learn reams of code. ( it may have been part of the code attached with the book, but I am reading an electronic book and I did not find an easy way to go back and forth between the code and the book). The readability of the chapters would be further enhanced by the use of flow charts explaining the path and process followed than overtly verbose textual descriptions running into multiple pages. The chapters are quite clearly written, but a helpful visual summary can help in both revising the concepts and elucidate the approach taken further.A suggestion for the authors could be to compile the list of useful functions they introduce in this book as a sort of reference card (or Ref Card) for R Hackers or atleast have a chapter wise summary of functions, datasets and packages used.

Chapter 5 discusses linear regression , and it is a surprising and not very good explanation of regression theory in the introduction to regression. However the chapter makes up in practical example what it oversimplifies in theory. The chapter on regression is not the finest chapter written in this otherwise excellent book. Part of this is because of relative lack of organization- correlation is explained after linear regression is explained. Once again the lack of a function summary and a process flow diagram hinders readability and a separate section on regression metrics that help make a regression result good or not so good could be a welcome addition. Functions introduced include lm.

Chapter 6 showcases Generalized Additive Model (GAM) and Polynomial Regression, including an introduction to singularity and of over-fitting. Functions included in this chapter are transform, and poly while the package glmnet is also used here. The chapter also introduces the reader formally to the concept of cross validation (though examples of cross validation had been introduced in earlier chapters) and regularization. Logistic regression is also introduced at the end in this chapter.

Chapter 7 is about optimization. It describes error metric in a very easy to understand way. It creates a grid by using nested loops for various values of intercept and slope of a regression equation and computing the sum of square of errors. It then describes the optim function in detail including how it works and it’s various parameters. It introduces the curve function. The chapter then describes ridge regression including definition and hyperparameter lamda. The use of optim function to optimize the error in regression is useful learning for the aspiring hacker. Lastly it describes a case study of breaking codes using the simplistic Caesar cipher, a lexical database and the Metropolis method. Functions introduced in this chapter include .Machine$double.eps .

Chapter 8 deals with Principal Component Analysis and unsupervised learning. It uses the ymd function from lubridate package to convert string to date objects, and the cast function from reshape package to further manipulate the structure of data. Using the princomp functions enables PCA in R.The case study creates a stock market index and compares the results with the Dow Jones index.

Chapter 9 deals with Multidimensional Scaling as well as clustering US senators on the basis of similarity in voting records on legislation .It showcases matrix multiplication using %*% and also the dist function to compute distance matrix.

Chapter 10 has the subject of K Nearest Neighbors for recommendation systems. Packages used include class ,reshape and and functions used include cor, function and log. It also demonstrates creating a custom kNN function for calculating Euclidean distance between center of centroids and data. The case study used is the R package recommendation contest on Kaggle. Overall a simplistic introduction to creating a recommendation system using K nearest neighbors, without getting into any of the prepackaged packages within R that deal with association analysis , clustering or recommendation systems.

Chapter 11 introduces the reader to social network analysis (and elements of graph theory) using the example of Erdos Number as an interesting example of social networks of mathematicians. The example of Social Graph API by Google for hacking are quite new and intriguing (though a bit obsolete by changes, and should be rectified in either the errata or next edition) . However there exists packages within R that should be atleast referenced or used within this chapter (like TwitteR package that use the Twitter API and ROauth package for other social networks). Packages used within this chapter include Rcurl, RJSONIO, and igraph packages of R and functions used include rbind and ifelse. It also introduces the reader to the advanced software Gephi. The last example is to build a recommendation engine for whom to follow in Twitter using R.

Chapter 12 is about model comparison and introduces the concept of Support Vector Machines. It uses the package e1071 and shows the svm function. It also introduces the concept of tuning hyper parameters within default algorithms . A small problem in understanding the concepts is the misalignment of diagram pages with the relevant code. It lastly concludes with using mean square error as a method for comparing models built with different algorithms.


Overall the book is a welcome addition in the library of books based on R programming language, and the refreshing nature of the flow of material and the practicality of it’s case studies make this a recommended addition to both academic and corporate business analysts trying to derive insights by hacking lots of heterogeneous data.

Have a look for yourself at-

Using R for Cloud Computing – made very easy and free by BioConductor

I really liked the no hassles way Biocnoductor has put a cloud AMI loaded with RStudio to help people learn R, and even try using R from within a browser in the cloud.

Not only is the tutorial very easy to use- they also give away 2 hours for free computing!!!

Check it out-

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

and wow! I am using Google Chrome to run R ..and its awesome!

Interesting- check out two hours for free — all you need is a browser and internet connection


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