Interview Ajay Ohri with DMR


Here is the winner of the Data Mining Research People Award 2010: Ajay Ohri! Thanks to Ajay for giving some time to answer Data Mining Research questions. And all the best to his blog, Decision Stat!

Data Mining Research (DMR): Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of Data Mining Research?

Ajay Ohri (AO): I am a business consultant and writer based out of Delhi- India. I have been working in and around the field of business analytics since 2004, and have worked with some very good and big companies primarily in financial analytics and outsourced analytics. Since 2007, I have been writing my blog at which now has almost 10,000 views monthly.

All in all, I wrote about data, and my hobby is also writing (poetry). Both my hobby and my profession stem from my education ( a masters in business, and a bachelors in mechanical engineering).

My research interests in data mining are interfaces (simpler interfaces to enable better data mining), education (making data mining less complex and accessible to more people and students), and time series and regression (specifically ARIMAX)
In business my research interests software marketing strategies (open source, Software as a service, advertising supported versus traditional licensing) and creation of technology and entrepreneurial hubs (like Palo Alto and Research Triangle, or Bangalore India).

DMR: I know you have worked with both SAS and R. Could you give your opinion about these two data mining tools?

AO: As per my understanding, SAS stands for SAS language, SAS Institute and SAS software platform. The terms are interchangeably used by people in industry and academia- but there have been some branding issues on this.
I have not worked much with SAS Enterprise Miner , probably because I could not afford it as business consultant, and organizations I worked with did not have a budget for Enterprise Miner.
I have worked alone and in teams with Base SAS, SAS Stat, SAS Access, and SAS ETS- and JMP. Also I worked with SAS BI but as a user to extract information.
You could say my use of SAS platform was mostly in predictive analytics and reporting, but I have a couple of projects under my belt for knowledge discovery and data mining, and pattern analysis. Again some of my SAS experience is a bit dated for almost 1 year ago.

I really like specific parts of SAS platform – as in the interface design of JMP (which is better than Enterprise Guide or Base SAS ) -and Proc Sort in Base SAS- I guess sequential processing of data makes SAS way faster- though with computing evolving from Desktops/Servers to even cheaper time shared cloud computers- I am not sure how long Base SAS and SAS Stat can hold this unique selling proposition.

I dislike the clutter in SAS Stat output, it confuses me with too much information, and I dislike shoddy graphics in the rendering output of graphical engine of SAS. Its shoddy coding work in SAS/Graph and if JMP can give better graphics why is legacy source code preventing SAS platform from doing a better job of it.

I sometimes think the best part of SAS is actually code written by Goodnight and Sall in 1970’s , the latest procs don’t impress me much.

SAS as a company is something I admire especially for its way of treating employees globally- but it is strange to see the rest of tech industry not following it. Also I don’t like over aggression and the SAS versus Rest of the Analytics /Data Mining World mentality that I sometimes pick up when I deal with industry thought leaders.

I think making SAS Enterprise Miner, JMP, and Base SAS in a completely new web interface priced at per hour rates is my wishlist but I guess I am a bit sentimental here- most data miners I know from early 2000’s did start with SAS as their first bread earning software. Also I think SAS needs to be better priced in Business Intelligence- it seems quite cheap in BI compared to Cognos/IBM but expensive in analytical licensing.

If you are a new stats or business student, chances are – you may know much more R than SAS today. The shift in education at least has been very rapid, and I guess R is also more of a platform than a analytics or data mining software.

I like a lot of things in R- from graphics, to better data mining packages, modular design of software, but above all I like the can do kick ass spirit of R community. Lots of young people collaborating with lots of young to old professors, and the energy is infectious. Everybody is a CEO in R ’s world. Latest data mining algols will probably start in R, published in journals.

Which is better for data mining SAS or R? It depends on your data and your deadline. The golden rule of management and business is -it depends.

Also I have worked with a lot of KXEN, SQL, SPSS.

DMR: Can you tell us more about Decision Stats? You have a traffic of 120′000 for 2010. How did you reach such a success?

AO: I don’t think 120,000 is a success. Its not a failure. It just happened- the more I wrote, the more people read.In 2007-2008 I used to obsess over traffic. I tried SEO, comments, back linking, and I did some black hat experimental stuff. Some of it worked- some didn’t.

In the end, I started asking questions and interviewing people. To my surprise, senior management is almost always more candid , frank and honest about their views while middle managers, public relations, marketing folks can be defensive.

Social Media helped a bit- Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook really helped my network of friends who I suppose acted as informal ambassadors to spread the word.
Again I was constrained by necessity than choices- my middle class finances ( I also had a baby son in 2007-my current laptop still has some broken keys :) – by my inability to afford traveling to conferences, and my location Delhi isn’t really a tech hub.

The more questions I asked around the internet, the more people responded, and I wrote it all down.

I guess I just was lucky to meet a lot of nice people on the internet who took time to mentor and educate me.

I tried building other websites but didn’t succeed so i guess I really don’t know. I am not a smart coder, not very clever at writing but I do try to be honest.

Basic economics says pricing is proportional to demand and inversely proportional to supply. Honest and candid opinions have infinite demand and an uncertain supply.

DMR: There is a rumor about a R book you plan to publish in 2011 :-) Can you confirm the rumor and tell us more?

AO: I just signed a contract with Springer for ” R for Business Analytics”. R is a great software, and lots of books for statistically trained people, but I felt like writing a book for the MBAs and existing analytics users- on how to easily transition to R for Analytics.

Like any language there are tricks and tweaks in R, and with a focus on code editors, IDE, GUI, web interfaces, R’s famous learning curve can be bent a bit.

Making analytics beautiful, and simpler to use is always a passion for me. With 3000 packages, R can be used for a lot more things and a lot more simply than is commonly understood.
The target audience however is business analysts- or people working in corporate environments.

Brief Bio-
Ajay Ohri has been working in the field of analytics since 2004 , when it was a still nascent emerging Industries in India. He has worked with the top two Indian outsourcers listed on NYSE,and with Citigroup on cross sell analytics where he helped sell an extra 50000 credit cards by cross sell analytics .He was one of the very first independent data mining consultants in India working on analytics products and domestic Indian market analytics .He regularly writes on analytics topics on his web site and is currently working on open source analytical tools like R besides analytical software like SPSS and SAS.

Checks in the mail more effective checks to your pay

Paycheck (film)
Image via Wikipedia

NBER (whose excellent monthly newsletter I subscribe to- among others) in a recent paper claims that cheque in mails (one time) sare better spent than monthly pay increases.

I wonder what this conclusion can be used for in designing annual bonuses versus higher pay in private sector compensation- but people do seem happier receiving a bigger one time boost than 12 small mini boosts.

Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?

use a mirror
Use a mirror
download in pdf format
(176 K)

email paper

Claudia R. Sahm, Matthew D. Shapiro, Joel Slemrod

NBER Working Paper No. 16246
Issued in July 2010
NBER Program(s):   EFG ME PE

An NBER digest for this paper is available.

Recent fiscal policies have aimed to stimulate household spending. In 2008, most households received one-time economic stimulus payments. In 2009, most working households received the Making Work Pay tax credit in the form of reduced withholding; other households, mainly retirees, received one-time payments. This paper quantifies the spending response to these different policies and examines whether the spending response differed according to whether the stimulus was delivered as a one-time payment or as a flow of payments in the form of reduced withholding. Based on responses from a representative sample of households in the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the paper finds that the reduction in withholding led to a substantially lower rate of spending than the one-time payments. Specifically, 25 percent of households reported that the one-time economic stimulus payment in 2008 led them to mostly increase their spending while only 13 percent reported that the extra pay from the lower withholding in 2009 led them to mostly increase their spending. The paper uses several approaches to isolate the effect of the delivery mechanism from the changing aggregate and individual conditions. Responses to a hypothetical stimulus in 2009, examination of “free responses” concerning differing responses to the policies, and regression analysis controlling for individual economic conditions and demographics all support the primary importance of the income delivery mechanism in determining the spending response to the policies.

This paper is available as PDF (176 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record – MARC, RIS, BibTeX

PAW Videos

A message from Predictive Analytics World on  newly available videos. It has many free videos as well so you can check them out.

Predictive Analytics World March 2011 in San Francisco

Access PAW DC Session Videos Now

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:

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Register by January 18th and receive $150 off the full 2-day conference program videos (enter code PAW150 at checkout)

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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:

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Survey analysis

Consumer privacy

Sales force optimization

Response & cross-sell

Recommender systems

Featuring experts such as:
Usama Fayyad, Ph.D.
CEO, Open Insights Former Chief Data Officer, Yahoo!

Andrew Pole
Sr Mgr, Media/DB Mktng
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John F. Elder, Ph.D.
CEO and Founder
Elder Research

Bruno Aziza
Director, Worldwide Strategy Lead, BI

Eric Siegel, Ph.D.
Conference Chair
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PAW DC videos feature over 25 speakers with case studies from leading enterprises such as: CIBC, CEB, Forrester, Macy’s, MetLife, Microsoft, Miles Kimball,, Oracle, Paychex, SunTrust, Target, UPMC, Xerox, Yahoo!, YMCA, and more.

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Session Gallery: Day 1 of 2

Viewing (17) Sessions of (31)


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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

Length – 00:45:57 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



Play video of session: Platinum Sponsor Presentation, Analytics: The Beauty of Diversity
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.

Length – 20:11 | Email to a Colleague

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Play video of session: Gold Sponsor Presentation Predictive Analytics Accelerate Insight for Financial Services
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

Length – 09:06 | Email to a Colleague

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Case Study:
Creating Global Competitive Power with Predictive Analytics 

Jean Paul Isson, Vice President, Globab BI & Predictive Analytics, Monster Worldwide

Using Predictive analytics to gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviours, increase marketing ROI and drive growth

– Creating global competitive power with business intelligence: Making the right decisions – at the right time

– Avoiding common change management challenges in sales, marketing, customer service, and products

– Developing a BI vision – and implementing it: successful business intelligence implementation models

– Using predictive analytics as a business driver to stay on top of the competition

– Following the Monster Worldwide global BI evolution: How Monster used BI to go from good to great

Length – 51:17 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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.

Length – 50:19 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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:

– Analytic goals & key challenges

– Impact of the economy

– Regional differences

– Text mining trends

Length – 15:20 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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

– Risk profiling for the Dept. of Defense

Length – 48:58 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



Play video of session: Keynote: How Target Gets the Most out of Its Guest Data to Improve Marketing ROI
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.

Length – 47:49 | Email to a Colleague

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Play video of session: Platinum Sponsor Presentation: Driving Analytics Into Decision Making
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.

Length – 17:29 | Email to a Colleague

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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.

Length – 34:54 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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:

– Identifying situations requiring multiple models

– Determining what types of models are needed

– Combining the individual component models into one output

Length – 48:22 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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

Length – 26:29 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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.

Length – 45:57 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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.

Length – 48:16 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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Case Study: Life Line Screening
Taking CRM Global Through Predictive Analytics 

Ozgur Dogan,
VP, Quantitative Solutions Group, Merkle Inc

Trish Mathe,
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

Length – 40:12 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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Case Study: Forrester
Making Survey Insights Addressable and Scalable – The Case Study of Forrester’s Technographics Benchmark Survey 

Nethra Sambamoorthi, Team Leader, Consumer Dynamics & Analytics, Global Consulting, Acxiom Corporation

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.

Length – 39:23 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195



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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.

Length – 54:18 | Email to a Colleague

Price: $195

So which software is the best analytical software? Sigh- It depends


Graph of typical Operating System placement on...
Image via Wikipedia


Here is the software matrix that I am trying to develop for analytical software- It should help as a tentative guide for software purchases- it’s independent so unbiased (hopefully)- and it will try and bring as much range or sensitivity as possible. The list (rather than matrix) is of the format-

Type 0f analysis-

  • Data Visualization (Reporting with Pivot Ability to aggregate, disaggregate)
  • Reporting without Pivot Ability
  • Regression -Logistic Regression for Propensity or Risk Models
  • Regression- Linear for Pricing Models
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • A/B Scenario Testing
  • Decision Trees (CART, CHAID)
  • Time Series Forecasting
  • Association Analysis
  • Factor Analysis
  • Survey (Questionnaires)
  • Clustering
  • Segmentation
  • Data Manipulation

Dataset Size-

  • small dataset (upto X mb)
  • big dataset (upto Y gb)
  • enterprise class production BigData datasets (no limit)

Pricing of Software that can be used-

Ease of using Software

  • GUI vs Non GUI
  • Software that require not much extensive training
  • Software that require extensive training

Installation, Customization, Maintainability (or Support) for Software

  • Installation Dependencies- Size- Hardware (costs and  efficiencies)
  • Customization provided for specific use
  • Support Channels (including approximate Turn Around Time)


  • Software I have used personally
  • SAS (Base, Stat,Enterprise,Connect,ETS) WPS KXEN SPSS (Base,Trends),Revolution R,R,Rapid Miner,Knime,JMP,SQL SERVER,Rattle, R Commander,Deducer
  • Software I know by reputation- SAS Enterprise Miner etc etc

Are there any other parameters for judging software?  let me know at

Going Deap : Algols in Python

Logo of PyPy
Image via Wikipedia

Here is an important new step in Python- the established statistical programming language (used to be really pushed by SPSS in pre-IBM days and the rPy package integrates R and Python).

Well the news  ( ) is the release of Distributed Evolutionary Algorithms in Python. If your understanding of modeling means running regression and iterating it- you may need to read some more.  If you have felt frustrated at lack of parallelization in statistical software as well as your own hardware constraints- well go DEAP (and for corporate types the licensing is ).


DEAP is intended to be an easy to use distributed evolutionary algorithm library in the Python language. Its two main components are modular and can be used separately. The first module is a Distributed Task Manager (DTM), which is intended to run on cluster of computers. The second part is the Evolutionary Algorithms in Python (EAP) framework.


DTM is a distributed task manager that is able to spread workload over a buch of computers using a TCP or a MPI connection.

DTM include the following features:




EAP includes the following features:

  • Genetic algorithm using any imaginable representation
    • List, Array, Set, Dictionary, Tree, …
  • Genetic programing using prefix trees
    • Loosely typed, Strongly typed
    • Automatically defined functions (new v0.6)
  • Evolution strategies (including CMA-ES)
  • Multi-objective optimisation (NSGA-II, SPEA-II)
  • Parallelization of the evaluations (and maybe more) (requires python2.6 and preferably python2.7) (new v0.6)
  • Genealogy of an evolution (that is compatible with NetworkX) (new v0.6)
  • Hall of Fame of the best individuals that lived in the population (new v0.5)
  • Milestones that take snapshot of a system regularly (new v0.5)



See the eap user’s guide for EAP 0.6 documentation.


The most basic features of EAP requires Python2.5 (we simply do not offer support for 2.4). In order to use multiprocessing you will need Python2.6 and to be able to combine the toolbox and the multiprocessing module Python2.7 is needed for its support to pickle partial functions.

Projects using EAP

If you want your project listed here, simply send us a link and a brief description and we’ll be glad to add it.

and from the blog (funny how people like but not anymore) at

EAP is part of the DEAP project, that also includes some facilities for the automatic distribution and parallelization of tasks over a cluster of computers. The D part of DEAP, called DTM, is under intense development and currently available as an alpha version. DTM currently provides two and a half ways to distribute workload on a cluster or LAN of workstations, based on MPI and TCP communication managers.

This public release (version 0.6) is more complete and simpler than ever. It includes Genetic Algorithms using any imaginable representation, Genetic Programming with strongly and loosely typed trees in addition to automatically defined functions, Evolution Strategies (including Covariance Matrix Adaptation), multiobjective optimization techniques (NSGA-II and SPEA2), easy parallelization of algorithms and much more like milestones, genealogy, etc.

We are impatient to hear your feedback and comments on that system at .


François-Michel De Rainville
Félix-Antoine Fortin
Marc-André Gardner
Christian Gagné
Marc Parizeau

Laboratoire de vision et systèmes numériques
Département de génie électrique et génie informatique
Université Laval
Quebec City (Quebec), Canada

and if you are new to Python -sigh here are some statistical things (read ad-van-cED analytics using Python) by a slideshare from Visual numerics (pre Rogue Wave acquisition)

Also see,




Interfaces to R

This is a fairly long post and is a basic collection  of material for a book/paper. It is on interfaces to use R. If you feel I need to add more on a  particular R interface, or if there is an error in this- please feel to contact me on twitter @decisionstats or mail ohri2007 on google mail.

R Interfaces

There are multiple ways to use the R statistical language.

Command Line- The default method is using the command prompt by the installed software on download from
For windows users there is a simple GUI which has an option for Packages (loading package, installing package, setting CRAN mirror for downloading packages) , Misc (useful for listing all objects loaded in workspace as well as clearing objects to free up memory), and Help Menu.

Using Click and Point- Besides the command prompt, there are many Graphical User Interfaces which enable the analyst to use click and point methods to analyze data without getting into the details of learning complex and at times overwhelming R syntax. R GUIs are very popular both as mode of instruction in academia as well as in actual usage as it cuts down considerably on time taken to adapt to the language. As with all command line and GUI software, for advanced tweaks and techniques, command prompt will come in handy as well.

Advantages and Limitations of using Visual Programming Interfaces to R as compared to Command Line.


Advantages Limitations
Faster learning for new programmers Can create junk analysis by clicking menus in GUI
Easier creation of advanced models or graphics Cannot create custom functions unless you use command line
Repeatability of analysis is better Advanced techniques and custom flexibility of data handling R can be done in command line
Syntax is auto-generated Can limit scope and exposure in learning R syntax

A brief list of the notable Graphical User Interfaces is below-

1) R Commander- Basic statistics
2) Rattle- Data Mining
3) Deducer- Graphics (including GGPlot Integration) and also uses JGR (a Jave based  GUI)
4) RKward- Comprehensive R GUI for customizable graphs
5) Red-R – Dataflow programming interface using widgets

1) R Commander- R Commander was primarily created by Professor John Fox of McMaster University to cover the content of a basic statistics course. However it is extensible and many other packages can be added in menu form to it- in the form R Commander Plugins. Quite noticeably it is one of the most widely used R GUI and it also has a script window so you can write R code in combination with the menus.
As you point and click a particular menu item, the corresponding R code is automatically generated in the log window and executed.

It can be found on CRAN at

Advantages of Using  R Commander-
1) Useful for beginner in R language to do basic graphs and analysis and building models.
2) Has script window, output window and log window (called messages) in same screen which helps user as code is auto-generated on clicking on menus, and can be customized easily. For example in changing labels and options in Graphs.  Graphical output is shown in seperate window from output window.
3) Extensible for other R packages like qcc (for quality control), Teaching Demos (for training), survival analysis and Design of Experiments (DoE)
4) Easy to understand interface even for first time user.
5) Menu items which are not relevant are automatically greyed out- if there are only two variables, and you try to build a 3D scatterplot graph, that menu would simply not be available and is greyed out.

Comparative Disadvantages of using R Commander-
1) It is basically aimed at a statistical audience( originally students in statistics) and thus the terms as well as menus are accordingly labeled. Hence it is more of a statistical GUI rather than an analytics GUI.
2) Has limited ability to evaluate models from a business analysts perspective (ROC curve is not given as an option) even though it has extensive statistical tests for model evaluation in model sub menu. Indeed creating a Model is treated as a subsection of statistics rather than a separate menu item.
3) It is not suited for projects that do not involve advanced statistical testing and for users not proficient in statistics (particularly hypothesis testing), and for data miners.

Menu items in the R Commander window:
File Menu – For loading script files and saving Script files, Output and Workspace
It is also needed for changing the present working directory and for exiting R.
Edit Menu – For editing scripts and code in the script window.
Data Menu – For creating new dataset, inputting or importing data and manipulating data through variables. Data Import can be from text,comma separated values,clipboard, datasets from SPSS, Stata,Minitab, Excel ,dbase,  Access files or from url.
Data manipulation included deleting rows of data as well as manipulating variables.
Also this menu has the option for merging two datasets by row or columns.
Statistics Menu-This menu has options for descriptive statistics, hypothesis tests, factor analysis and clustering and also for creating models. Note there is a separate menu for evaluating the model so created.
Graphs Menu-It has options for creating various kinds of graphs including box-plot, histogram, line, pie charts and x-y plots.
The first option is color palette- it can be used for customizing the colors. It is recommended you adjust colors based on your need for publication or presentation.
A notable option is 3 D graphs for evaluating 3 variables at a time- this is really good and impressive feature and exposes the user to advanced graphs in R all at few clicks. You may want to dazzle a presentation using this graph.
Also consider scatterplot matrix graphs for graphical display of variables.
Graphical display of R surpasses any other statistical software in appeal as well as ease of creation- using GUI to create graphs can further help the user to get the most of data insights using R at a very minimum effort.
Models Menu-This is somewhat of a labeling peculiarity of R Commander as this menu is only for evaluating models which have been created using the statistics menu-model sub menu.
It includes options for graphical interpretation of model results,residuals,leverage and confidence intervals and adding back residuals to the data set.
Distributions Menu- is for cumulative probabilities, probability density, graphs of distributions, quantiles and features for standard distributions and can be used in lieu of standard statistical tables for the distributions. It has 13 standard statistical continuous distributions and 5 discrete distributions.
Tools Menu- allows you to load other packages and also load R Commander plugins (which are then added to the Interface Menu after the R Commander GUI is restarted). It also contains options sub menu for fine tuning (like opting to send output to R Menu)
Help Menu- Standard documentation and help menu. Essential reading is the short 25 page manual in it called Getting “Started With the R Commander”.

R Commander Plugins- There are twenty extensions to R Commander that greatly enhance it’s appeal -these include basic time series forecasting, survival analysis, qcc and more.

see a complete list at

  1. DoE –
  2. doex
  3. EHESampling
  4. epack-
  5. Export-
  6. FactoMineR
  7. HH
  8. IPSUR
  9. MAc-
  10. MAd
  11. orloca
  12. PT
  13. qcc- and
  14. qual
  15. SensoMineR
  16. SLC
  17. sos
  18. survival-
  19. SurvivalT
  20. Teaching Demos

Note the naming convention for above e plugins is always with a Prefix of “RCmdrPlugin.” followed by the names above
Also on loading a Plugin, it must be already installed locally to be visible in R Commander’s list of load-plugin, and R Commander loads the e-plugin after restarting.Hence it is advisable to load all R Commander plugins in the beginning of the analysis session.

However the notable E Plugins are
1) DoE for Design of Experiments-
Full factorial designs, orthogonal main effects designs, regular and non-regular 2-level fractional
factorial designs, central composite and Box-Behnken designs, latin hypercube samples, and simple D-optimal designs can currently be generated from the GUI. Extensions to cover further latin hypercube designs as well as more advanced D-optimal designs (with blocking) are planned for the future.
2) Survival- This package provides an R Commander plug-in for the survival package, with dialogs for Cox models, parametric survival regression models, estimation of survival curves, and testing for differences in survival curves, along with data-management facilities and a variety of tests, diagnostics and graphs.
3) qcc -GUI for  Shewhart quality control charts for continuous, attribute and count data. Cusum and EWMA charts. Operating characteristic curves. Process capability analysis. Pareto chart and cause-and-effect chart. Multivariate control charts
4) epack- an Rcmdr “plug-in” based on the time series functions. Depends also on packages like , tseries, abind,MASS,xts,forecast. It covers Log-Exceptions garch
and following Models -Arima, garch, HoltWinters
5)Export- The package helps users to graphically export Rcmdr output to LaTeX or HTML code,
via xtable() or Hmisc::latex(). The plug-in was originally intended to facilitate exporting Rcmdr
output to formats other than ASCII text and to provide R novices with an easy-to-use,
easy-to-access reference on exporting R objects to formats suited for printed output. The
package documentation contains several pointers on creating reports, either by using
conventional word processors or LaTeX/LyX.
6) MAc- This is an R-Commander plug-in for the MAc package (Meta-Analysis with
Correlations). This package enables the user to conduct a meta-analysis in a menu-driven,
graphical user interface environment (e.g., SPSS), while having the full statistical capabilities of
R and the MAc package. The MAc package itself contains a variety of useful functions for
conducting a research synthesis with correlational data. One of the unique features of the MAc
package is in its integration of user-friendly functions to complete the majority of statistical steps
involved in a meta-analysis with correlations.
You can read more on R Commander Plugins at
Rattle- R Analytical Tool To Learn Easily (download from
Rattle is more advanced user Interface than R Commander though not as popular in academia. It has been designed explicitly for data mining and it also has a commercial version for sale by Togaware. Rattle has a Tab and radio button/check box rather than Menu- drop down approach towards the graphical design. Also the Execute button needs to be clicked after checking certain options, just the same as submit button is clicked after writing code. This is different from clicking on a drop down menu.

Advantages of Using Rattle
1) Useful for beginner in R language to do building models,cluster and data mining.
2) Has separate tabs for data entry,summary, visualization,model building,clustering, association and evaluation. The design is intuitive and easy to understand even for non statistical background as the help is conveniently explained as each tab, button is clicked. Also the tabs are placed in a very sequential and logical order.
3) Uses a lot of other R packages to build a complete analytical platform. Very good for correlation graph,clustering as well decision trees.
4) Easy to understand interface even for first time user.
5) Log  for R code is auto generated and time stamp is placed.
6) Complete solution for model building from partitioning datasets randomly for testing,validation to building model, evaluating lift and ROC curve, and exporting PMML output of model for scoring.
7) Has a well documented online help as well as in-software documentation. The help helps explain terms even to non statistical users and is highly useful for business users.

Example Documentation for Hypothesis Testing in Test Tab in Rattle is ”
Distribution of the Data
* Kolomogorov-Smirnov     Non-parametric Are the distributions the same?
* Wilcoxon Signed Rank    Non-parametric Do paired samples have the same distribution?
Location of the Average
* T-test               Parametric     Are the means the same?
* Wilcoxon Rank-Sum    Non-parametric Are the medians the same?
Variation in the Data
* F-test Parametric Are the variances the same?
* Correlation    Pearsons Are the values from the paired samples correlated?”

Comparative Disadvantages of using Rattle-
1) It is basically aimed at a data miner.  Hence it is more of a data mining GUI rather than an analytics GUI.
2) Has limited ability to create different types of graphs from a business analysts perspective Numeric variables can be made into Box-Plot, Histogram, Cumulative as well Benford Graphs. While interactivity using GGobi and Lattiticist is involved- the number of graphical options is still lesser than other GUI.
3) It is not suited for projects that involve multiple graphical analysis and which do not have model building or data mining.For example Data Plot is given in clustering tab but not in general Explore tab.
4) Despite the fact that it is meant for data miners, no support to biglm packages, as well as parallel programming is enabled in GUI for bigger datasets, though these can be done by R command line in conjunction with the Rattle GUI. Data m7ining is typically done on bigger datsets.
5) May have some problems installing it as it is dependent on GTK and has a lot of packages as dependencies.

Top Row-
This has the Execute Button (shown as two gears) and which has keyboard shortcut F2. It is used to execute the options in Tabs-and is equivalent of submit code button.
Other buttons include new Projects,Save  and Load projects which are files with extension to .rattle an which store all related information from Rattle.
It also has a button for exporting information in the current Tab as an open office document, and buttons for interrupting current process as well as exiting Rattle.

Data Tab-
It has the following options.
●        Data Type- These are radio buttons between Spreadsheet (and Comma Separated Values), ARFF files (Weka), ODBC (for Database Connections),Library (for Datasets from Packages),R Dataset or R datafile, Corpus (for Text Mining) and Script for generating the data by code.
●        The second row-in Data Tab in Rattle is Detail on Data Type- and its apperance shifts as per the radio button selection of data type in previous step. For Spreadsheet, it will show Path of File, Delimiters, Header Row while for ODBC it will show DSN, Tables, Rows and for Library it will show you a dropdown of all datasets in all R packages installed locally.
●        The third row is a Partition field for splitting dataset in training,testing,validation and it shows ratio. It also specifies a Random seed which can be customized for random partitions which can be replicated. This is very useful as model building requires model to be built and tested on random sub sets of full dataset.
●        The fourth row is used to specify the variable type of inputted data. The variable types are
○        Input: Used for modeling as independent variables
○        Target: Output for modeling or the dependent variable. Target is a categoric variable for classification, numeric for regression and for survival analysis both Time and Status need to be defined
○        Risk: A variable used in the Risk Chart
○        Ident: An identifier for unique observations in the data set like AccountId or Customer Id
○        Ignore: Variables that are to be ignored.
●        In addition the weight calculator can be used to perform mathematical operations on certain variables and identify certain variables as more important than others.

Explore Tab-
Summary Sub-Tab has Summary for brief summary of variables, Describe for detailed summary and Kurtosis and Skewness for comparing them across numeric variables.
Distributions Sub-Tab allows plotting of histograms, box plots, and cumulative plots for numeric variables and for categorical variables Bar Plot and Dot Plot.
It also has Benford Plot for Benford’s Law on probability of distribution of digits.
Correlation Sub-Tab– This displays corelation between variables as a table and also as a very nice plot.
Principal Components Sub-Tab– This is for use with Principal Components Analysis including the SVD (singular value decomposition) and Eigen methods.
Interactive Sub-Tab- Allows interactive data exploration using GGobi and Lattice software. It is a powerful visual tool.

Test Tab-This has options for hypothesis testing of data for two sample tests.
Transform Tab-This has options for rescaling data, missing values treatment, and deleting invalid or missing values.
Cluster Tab-It gives an option to KMeans, Hierarchical and Bi-Cluster clustering methods with automated graphs,plots (including dendogram, discriminant plot and data plot) and cluster results available. It is highly recommended for clustering projects especially for people who are proficient in clustering but not in R.

Associate Tab-It helps in building association rules between categorical variables, which are in the form of “if then”statements. Example. If day is Thursday, and someone buys Milk, there is 80% chance they will buy Diapers. These probabilities are generated from observed frequencies.

Model Tab-The Model tab makes Rattle one of the most advanced data mining tools, as it incorporates decision trees(including boosted models and forest method), linear and logistic regression, SVM,neural net,survival models.
Evaluate Tab-It as functionality for evaluating models including lift,ROC,confusion matrix,cost curve,risk chart,precision, specificity, sensitivity as well as scoring datasets with built model or models. Example – A ROC curve generated by Rattle for Survived Passengers in Titanic (as function of age,class,sex) This shows comparison of various models built.

Log Tab- R Code is automatically generated by Rattle as the respective operation is executed. Also timestamp is done so it helps in reviewing error as well as evaluating speed for code optimization.
JGR- Deducer- (see
JGR is a Java Based GUI. Deducer is recommended for use with JGR.
Deducer has basically been made to implement GGPLOT in a GUI- an advanced graphics package based on Grammer of Graphics and was part of Google Summer of Code project.

It first asks you to either open existing dataset or load a new dataset with just two icons. It has two initial views in Data Viewer- a Data view and Variable view which is quite similar to Base SPSS. The other Deducer options are loaded within the JGR console.

Advantages of Using  Deducer
1.      It has an option for factor as well as reliability analysis which is missing in other graphical user interfaces like R Commander and Rattle.
2.      The plot builder option gives very good graphics -perhaps the best in other GUIs. This includes a color by option which allows you to shade the colors based on variable value. An addition innovation is the form of templates which enables even a user not familiar with data visualization to choose among various graphs and click and drag them to plot builder area.
3.      You can set the Java Gui for R (JGR) menu to automatically load some packages by default using an easy checkbox list.
4.      Even though Deducer is a very young package, it offers a way for building other R GUIs using Java Widgets.
5.      Overall feel is of SPSS (Base GUI) to it’s drop down menu, and selecting variables in the sub menu dialogue by clicking to transfer to other side.SPSS users should be more comfortable at using this.
6.      A surprising thing is it rearranges the help documentation of all R in a very presentable and organized manner
7.      Very convenient to move between two or more datasets using dropdown.
8.      The most convenient GUI for merging two datasets using common variable.

Dis Advantages of Using  Deducer
1.      Not able to save plots as images (only options are .pdf and .eps), you can however copy as image.
2.      Basically a data viualization GUI – it does offer support for regression, descriptive statistics in the menu item Extras- however the menu suggests it is a work in progress.
3.      Website for help is outdated, and help documentation specific to Deducer lacks detail.

Components of Deducer-
Data Menu-Gives options for data manipulation including recoding variables,transform variables (binning, mathematical operation), sort dataset,  transpose dataset ,merge two datasets.
Analysis Menu-Gives options for frequency tables, descriptive statistics,cross tabs, one sample tests (with plots) ,two sample tests (with plots),k sample tests, correlation,linear and logistic models,generalized linear models.
Plot Builder Menu- This allows plots of various kinds to be made in an interactive manner.

Correlation using Deducer.

Red-R – A dataflow user interface for R (see

Red R uses dataflow concepts as a user interface rather than menus and tabs. Thus it is more similar to Enterprise Miner or Rapid Miner in design. For repeatable analysis dataflow programming is preferred by some analysts. Red-R is written in Python.

Advantages of using Red-R
1) Dataflow style makes it very convenient to use. It is the only dataflow GUI for R.
2) You can save the data as well as analysis in the same file.
3) User Interface makes it easy to read R code generated, and commit code.
4) For repeatable analysis-like reports or creating models it is very useful as you can replace just one widget and other widget/operations remain the same.
5) Very easy to zoom into data points by double clicking on graphs. Also to change colors and other options in graphs.
6) One minor feature- It asks you to set CRAN location just once and stores it even for next session.
7) Automated bug report submission.

Disadvantages of using Red-R
1) Current version is 1.8 and it needs a lot of improvement for building more modeling types as well as debugging errors.
2) Limited features presently.
RKWard (see

It is primarily a KDE GUI for R, so it can be used on Ubuntu Linux. The windows version is available but has some bugs.

Advantages of using RKWard
1) It is the only R GUI for time series at present.
In addition it seems like the only R GUI explicitly for Item Response Theory (which includes credit response models,logistic models) and plots contains Pareto Charts.
2) It offers a lot of detail in analysis especially in plots(13 types of plots), analysis and  distribution analysis ( 8 Tests of normality,14 continuous and 6 discrete distributions). This detail makes it more suitable for advanced statisticians rather than business analytics users.
3) Output can be easily copied to Office documents.

Disadvantages of using RKWard
1) It does not have stable Windows GUI. Since a graphical user interface is aimed at making interaction easier for users- this is major disadvantage.
2) It has a lot of dependencies so may have some issues in installing.
3) The design categorization of analysis,plots and distributions seems a bit unbalanced considering other tabs are File, Edit, View, Workspace,Run,Settings, Windows,Help.
Some of the other tabs can be collapsed, while the three main tabs of analysis,plots,distributions can be better categorized (especially into modeling and non-modeling analysis).
4) Not many options for data manipulation (like subset or transpose) by the GUI.
5) Lack of detail in documentation as it is still on version 0.5.3 only.

Analysis, Plots and Distributions are the main components and they are very very extensive, covering perhaps the biggest range of plots,analysis or distribution analysis that can be done.
Thus RKWard is best combined with some other GUI, when doing advanced statistical analysis.


GNU General Public License
Image via Wikipedia


GrapheR is a Graphical User Interface created for simple graphs.

Depends: R (>= 2.10.0), tcltk, mgcv
Description: GrapheR is a multiplatform user interface for drawing highly customizable graphs in R. It aims to be a valuable help to quickly draw publishable graphs without any knowledge of R commands. Six kinds of graphs are available: histogram, box-and-whisker plot, bar plot, pie chart, curve and scatter plot.
License: GPL-2
LazyLoad: yes
Packaged: 2011-01-24 17:47:17 UTC; Maxime
Repository: CRAN
Date/Publication: 2011-01-24 18:41:47

More information about GrapheR at CRAN
Path: /cran/newpermanent link

Advantages of using GrapheR

  • It is bi-lingual (English and French) and can import in text and csv files
  • The intention is for even non users of R, to make the simple types of Graphs.
  • The user interface is quite cleanly designed. It is thus aimed as a data visualization GUI, but for a more basic level than Deducer.
  • Easy to rename axis ,graph titles as well use sliders for changing line thickness and color

Disadvantages of using GrapheR

  • Lack of documentation or help. Especially tips on mouseover of some options should be done.
  • Some of the terms like absicca or ordinate axis may not be easily understood by a business user.
  • Default values of color are quite plain (black font on white background).
  • Can flood terminal with lots of repetitive warnings (although use of warnings() function limits it to top 50)
  • Some of axis names can be auto suggested based on which variable s being chosen for that axis.
  • Package name GrapheR refers to a graphical calculator in Mac OS – this can hinder search engine results

Using GrapheR

  • Data Input -Data Input can be customized for CSV and Text files.
  • GrapheR gives information on loaded variables (numeric versus Factors)
  • It asks you to choose the type of Graph 
  • It then asks for usual Graph Inputs (see below). Note colors can be customized (partial window). Also number of graphs per Window can be easily customized 
  • Graph is ready for publication

Related Articles


Summary of R GUIs

Using R from other software- Please note that interfaces to R exist from other software as well. These include software from SAS Institute, IBM SPSS, Rapid Miner,Knime  and Oracle.

A brief list is shown below-

1) SAS/IML Interface to R- You can read about the SAS Institute’s SAS/ IML Studio interface to R at
2) Rapid  Miner Extension to R-You can view integration with Rapid Miner’s extension to R here at
3) IBM SPSS plugin for R-SPSS software has R integration in the form of a plugin. This was one of the earliest third party software offering interaction with R and you can read more at
4) Knime- Konstanz Information Miner also has R integration. You can view this on
5) Oracle Data Miner- Oracle has a data mining offering to it’s very popular database software which is integrated with the R language. The R Interface to Oracle Data Mining ( R-ODM) allows R users to access the power of Oracle Data Mining’s in-database functions using the familiar R syntax.
6) JMP- JMP version 9 is the latest to offer interface to R.  You can read example scripts here at!.html

R Excel- Using R from Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is the most widely used spreadsheet program for data manipulation, entry and graphics. Yet as dataset sizes have increased, Excel’s statistical capabilities have lagged though it’s design has moved ahead in various product versions.

R Excel basically works at adding a .xla plugin to
Excel just like other Plugins. It does so by connecting to R through R packages.

Basically it offers the functionality of R
functions and capabilities to the most widely distributed spreadsheet program. All data summaries, reports and analysis end up in a spreadsheet-

R Excel enables R to be very useful for people not
knowing R. In addition it adds (by option) the menus of R Commander as menus in Excel spreadsheet.

Enables R and Excel to communicate thus tieing an advanced statistical tool to the most widely used business analytics tool.

No major disadvatage at all to a business user. For a data statistical user, Microsoft Excel is limited to 100,000 rows, so R data needs to be summarized or reduced.

Graphical capabilities of R are very useful, but to a new user, interactive graphics in Excel may be easier than say using Ggplot ot Ggobi.
You can read more on this at or  the complete Springer Book

The combination of cloud computing and internet offers a new kind of interaction possible for scientists as well analysts.

Here is a way to use R on an Amazon EC2 machine, thus renting by hour hardware and computing resources which are scaleable to massive levels , whereas the software is free.

Here is how you can connect to Amazon EC2 and run R.
Running R for Cloud Computing.
1) Logging onto Amazon Console
Note you need your Amazon Id (even the same id which you use for buying books).Note we are into Amazon EC2 as shown by the upper tab. Click upper tab to get into the Amazon EC2
2) Choosing the right AMI-On the left margin, you can click AMI -Images. Now you can search for the image-I chose Ubuntu images (linux images are cheaper) and latest Ubuntu Lucid  in the search .You can choose whether you want 32 bit or 64 bit image. 64 bit images will lead to  faster processing of data.Click on launch instance in the upper tab ( near the search feature). A pop up comes up, which shows the 5 step process to launch your computing.
3) Choose the right compute instance- – there are various compute instances and they all are at different multiples of prices or compute units. They differ in terms of RAM memory and number of processors.After choosing the compute instance of your choice (extra large is highlighted)- click on continue-
4) Instance Details-Do not  choose cloudburst monitoring if you are on a budget as it has a extra charge. For critical production it would be advisable to choose cloudburst monitoring once you have become comfortable with handling cloud computing..
5) Add Tag Details- If you are running a lot of instances you need to create your own tags to help you manage them. It is advisable if you are going to run many instances.
6) Create a key pair- A key pair is an added layer of encryption. Click on create new pair and name it (note the name will be handy in coming steps)
7) After clicking and downloading the key pair- you come into security groups. Security groups is just a set of instructions to help keep your data transfer secure. You want to enable access to your cloud instance to certain IP addresses (if you are going to connect from fixed IP address and to certain ports in your computer. It is necessary in security group to enable  SSH using Port 22.
Last step- Review Details and Click Launch
8) On the Left margin click on instances ( you were in Images.>AMI earlier)
It will take some 3-5 minutes to launch an instance. You can see status as pending till then.
9) Pending instance as shown by yellow light-
10) Once the instance is running -it is shown by a green light.
Click on the check box, and on upper tab go to instance actions. Click on connect-
You see a popup with instructions like these-
· Open the SSH client of your choice (e.g., PuTTY, terminal).
·  Locate your private key, nameofkeypair.pem
·  Use chmod to make sure your key file isn’t publicly viewable, ssh won’t work otherwise:
chmod 400 decisionstats.pem
·  Connect to your instance using instance’s public DNS [].
Enter the following command line:
ssh -i decisionstats2.pem

Note- If you are using Ubuntu Linux on your desktop/laptop you will need to change the above line to ubuntu@… from root@..

ssh -i yourkeypairname.pem -X

(Note X11 package should be installed for Linux users- Windows Users will use Remote Desktop)

12) Install R Commander on the remote machine (which is running Ubuntu Linux) using the command

sudo apt-get install r-cran-rcmdr

September Roundup by Revolution

From the monthly newsletter- which I consider quite useful for keeping updated on application of R


Revolution News
Every month, we’ll bring you the latest news about Revolution’s products and events in this section.
Follow us on Twitter at @RevolutionR for up-to-the-minute news and updates from Revolution Analytics!

Revolution R Enterprise 4.0 for Windows now available. Based on the latest R 2.11.1 and including the RevoScaleR package for big-data analysis in R, Revolution R Enterprise is now available for download for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Click here to subscribe, or available free to academia.

New! Integrate R with web applications, BI dashboards and more with web services. RevoDeployR is a new Web Services framework that integrates dynamic R-based computations into applications for business users. It will be available September 30 with Revolution R Enterprise Server on RHEL 5. Click here to learn more.

Free Webinar, September 22: In a joint webinar from Revolution Analytics and Jaspersoft, learn how to use RevoDeployR to integrate advanced analytics on-demand in applications, BI dashboards, and on the web. Register here.

Revolution in the News: previews the forthcoming Revolution R GUI; Channel Register introduces RevoDeployR, while IT Business Edge shows off the Web Services architecture; and looks at how RevoScaleR tackles the Big Data explosion.

Inside-R: A new site for the R Community. At you’ll find the latest information about R from around the Web, searchable R documentation and packages, hints and tips about R, and more. You can even add a “Download R” badge to your own web-page to help spread the word about R.

R News, Tips and Tricks from the Revolutions blog
The Revolutions blog brings you daily news and tips about R, statistics and open source. Here are some highlights from Revolutions from the past month

R’s key role in the oil spill response: Read how NIST’s Division Chief of Statistical Engineering used R to provide critical analysis in real time to the Secretaries of Energy and the Interior, and helped coordinate the government’s response.

Animating data with R and Google Earth: Learn how to use R to create animated visualizations of geographical data with Google Earth, such as this video showing how tuna migrations intersect with the location of the Gulf oil spill.

Are baseball games getting longer? Or is it just Red Sox games? Ryan Elmore uses nonparametric regression in R to find out.

Keynote presentations from useR! 2010: the worldwide R user’s conference was a great success, and there’s a wealth of useful tips and information in the presentations. Video of the keynote presentations are available too: check out in particular Frank Harrell’s talk Information Allergy, and Friedrich Leisch’s talk on reproducible statistical research.

Looking for more R tips and tricks? Check out the monthly round-ups at the Revolutions blog.

Upcoming Events
Every month, we’ll highlight some upcoming events from R Community Calendar.

September 23: The San Diego R User Group has a meetup on BioConductor and microarray data analysis.

September 28: The Sydney Users of R Forum has a meetup on building world-class predictive models in R (with dinner to follow).

September 28: The Los Angeles R User Group presents an introduction to statistical finance with R.

September 28: The Seattle R User Group meets to discuss, “What are you doing with R?”

September 29: The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill R Users Group has its first meeting.

October 7: The NYC R User Group features a presentation by Prof. Andrew Gelman.

There are also new R user groups in SingaporeSeoulDenverBrisbane, and New Jersey.  Please let us know if we’re missing your R user group, or if want to get a new one started.


David Smith, VP Marketing
Twitter: @revodavid

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