Latest R Journal

Including juicy stuff on using a cluster of Apple Machines for grid computing , seasonality forecasting (Yet Another Package For Time Series )

But I kind of liked Sumo too-

Sumo is a fully-functional web application template that exposes an authenticated user’s R session within java server pages.

Sumo: An Authenticating Web Application with an Embedded R Session by Timothy T. Bergsma and Michael S. Smith Abstract Sumo is a web application intended as a template for developers. It is distributed as a Java ‘war’ file that deploys automatically when placed in a Servlet container’s ‘webapps’
directory. If a user supplies proper credentials, Sumo creates a session-specific Secure Shell connection to the host and a user-specific R session over that connection. Developers may write dynamic server pages that make use of the persistent R session and user-specific file space.

and for Apple fanboys-

We created the xgrid package (Horton and Anoke, 2012) to provide a simple interface to this distributed computing system. The package facilitates use of an Apple Xgrid for distributed processing of a simulation with many independent repetitions, by simplifying job submission (or grid stuffing) and collation of results. It provides a relatively thin but useful layer between R and Apple’s ‘xgrid’ shell command, where the user constructs input scripts to be run remotely. A similar set of routines, optimized for parallel estimation of JAGS (just another Gibbs sampler) models is available within the runjags package (Denwood, 2010). However, with the exception of runjags, none of the previously mentioned packages support parallel computation over an Apple Xgrid.

Hmm I guess parallel computing enabled by Wifi on mobile phones would be awesome too ! So would be anything using iOS . See the rest of the R Journal at


The economics of software piracy

Software piracy exists because-

1) Lack of appropriate technological controls (like those on DVDs) or on Bit Torrents (an innovation on the centralized server like Napster) or on Streaming etc etc.

Technology to share content has evolved at a much higher pace than technology to restrict content from being shared or limited to purchasers.

2) Huge difference in purchasing power across the globe.

An Itunes song at 99 cents might be okay buy in USA, but in Asia it is very expensive. Maybe if content creators use Purchasing Power Parity to price their goods, it might make an indent.

3) State sponsored intellectual theft as another form of economic warfare- this has been going on since the West stole gunpowder and silk from the Chinese, and Intel decided to win back the IP rights to the microprocessor (from the Japanese client)

4) Lack of consensus in policy makers across the globe on who gets hurt from IP theft, but complete consensus across young people in the globe that they are doing the right thing by downloading stuff for free.

5) There is no such thing as a free lunch. Sometimes software (and movie and songs) piracy help create demand across ignored markets – I always think the NFL can be huge in India if they market it.Sometimes it forces artists to commit suicide because they give up on the life of starving musician.

Mostly piracy has helped break profits of intermediaries between the actual creator and actual consumer.

So how to solve software piracy , assuming it is something that can be solved-

I dont know, but I do care.

I give most of my writings as CC-by-SA and that includes my poems. People (friends and family) sometimes pay me not to sing.

Pirates have existed and will exist as long as civilized men romanticize the notion of piracy and bicker between themselves for narrow gains.

  1. Ephesians 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
  2. A clean confession, combined with a promise never to commit the sin again, when offered before one who has the right to receive it, is the purest type of repentance.-Gandhi
  3. If you steal, I will wash your mouth with soap- Anonymous Mother.
  4. You shall not steal- Moses
  5. Steal may refer to: Theft, the illegal taking of another person’s property without that person’s freely-given consent; The gaining of a stolen base in baseball;



Software Review- – Machine Learning meets the Cloud

I had a chance to dekko the new startup BigML 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

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. 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.

REST API conforms to the design principles of Representational State Transfer (REST) is enterely HTTP-based. 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 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 must be performed over HTTPS

and ( 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 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)


Cloud Computing – can be evil

Cloud Computing can be evil because-

1) Most browsers are owned by for profit corporations . Corporations can be evil, sometimes

And corporations can go bankrupt. You can back up data locally, but try backing up a corporation.

2) The content on your web page can be changed using translator extensions . This has interesting ramifications as in George Orwell. You may not be even aware of subtle changes introduced in your browser in the way it renders the html or some words using keywords from a browser extension app.

Imagine a new form of language called Politically Correct Truthspeak, and that can be in English but using machine learning learn to substitute politically sensitive words with Govt sanctioned words.

3) Your DNS and IP settings can be redirected using extensions. This means if a Govt passes a law- you can be denied the websites using just the browser not even the ISP.

Thats an extreme scenario for a authoritative govt creating its own version of Mafiaafire Redirector.

So how to keep the cloud computer honest?Move some stuff to the desktop

How to keep desktop computing efficient?Use some more cloud computing

It is not an OR but an AND function in which some computing can be local, some shared and some in the cloud.


On Software

1) All software has bugs. Sometimes this is because people have been told to code in a hurry to meet shipping deadlines. Sometimes it is due to the way metal and other software interact with it. Mostly it is karma.

2) In the 21 st Century,It is okay to insult someone over his software , but not over most other things. Sometimes I think people are passionate not just for their own software but to just diss the other guys. It is a politically convenient release.

3) Bloggers writing about software are full of bull-by products. If they were any good in writing code, they would not have time to write a blog. Mostly bloggers on code are people whose coding enthusiasm is more than their coding competence.

4) Software is easier than it looks to people who know it. To those who dont know how to code, it will always be a bit of magic.

5) Despite immense progress, initiatives and encouragement- the number of females writing code is too low . Comparatively, figuratively and literally. If you are a male and want a social life- get into marketing while the hair is still black.

Man walks into Bar. Says to Women at Bar. ” Hey,What do you do, Me- I write code”


6) People who write software end up making more money not just because they create useful stuff that helps get work done faster or helps reduce boredom for people. They make more money because they are mostly passionate, logical problem thinkers, focused, hard working and better read on a variety of subjects than others. That’s your cue to how to make money even if you cannot code.

7) I would rather write much more code rather than write poetry. But I sometimes think they are related. Just manipulating words in different languages to manipulate output in different machines or people.

8) Kids should be taught software at early age , as that is a skill that helps in their education and thinking. More education for the kids!

9) Laying off talented software people because you found a cheaper , younger alternative half across the globe is sometimes evil. It is also inevitable. Learn more software as you grow older.

10) The best software is the one in your head. It was written by a better programmer too.


New Plotters in Rapid Miner 5.2

I almost missed this because of my vacation and traveling

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


Great New Graphical Plotters

and some flashy work

and a great series of educational lectures

A Simple Explanation of Decision Tree Modeling based on Entropies


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

Logistic Regression for Business Analytics using RapidMiner


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

Part 1 (Basics):

Deploy Model:

Advanced Information:

and lastly a new research project for collaborative data mining

e-LICO Architecture and Components

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

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

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

You can install the extension directly by using the Rapid-I Marketplace instead of the old update server. Just go to the preferences and enter as the update URL

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

Product Map

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


Rapid-I Product Overview 


Jim Kobielus on 2012

Jim Kobielus revisits the predictions he made in 2011 (and a summary of 2010) , and makes some fresh ones for 2012. For technology watchers, this is an article by one of the gurus of enterprise software.


All of those trends predictions (at ) came true in 2011, and are in full force in 2012 as well.Here are my predictions for 2012, and the links to the 3 blogposts in which I made them last month:


The Year Ahead in Next Best Action? Here’s the Next Best Thing to a Crystal Ball!

  • The next-best-action market will continue to coalesce around core solution capabilities.
  • Data scientists will become the principal application developers for next best action.
  • Real-world experiments will become the new development paradigm in next best action.

The Year Ahead in Advanced Analytics? Advances on All Fronts!

  • Open-source platforms will expand their footprint in advanced analytics.
  • Data science centers of excellence will spring up everywhere.
  • Predictive analytics and interactive exploration will enter the mainstream BI user experience:

The Year Ahead In Big Data? Big, Cool, New Stuff Looms Large!

  • Enterprise Hadoop deployments will expand at a rapid clip.
  • In-memory analytics platforms will grow their footprint.
  • Graph databases will come into vogue.


And in an exclusive and generous favor for DecisionStats, Jim does some crystal gazing for the cloud computing field in 2012-

Cloud/SaaS EDWs will cross the enterprise-adoption inflection point. In 2012, cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) enterprise data warehouses (EDWs), offered on a public subscription basis, will gain greater enterprise adoption as a complement or outright replacement for appliance- and software-based EDWs. A growing number of established and startup EDW vendors will roll out cloud/SaaS “Big Data” offerings. Many of these will supplement and extend RDBMS and columnar technologies with Hadoop, key-value, graph, document, and other new database architectures.


James G. Kobielus James G. Kobielus
Senior Analyst



James serves Business Process & Application Development & Delivery Professionals. He is a leading expert on data warehousing, predictive analytics, data mining, and complex event processing. In addition to his core coverage areas, James contributes to Forrester’s research in business intelligence, data integration, data quality, and master data management.




James has a long history in IT research and consulting and has worked for both vendors and research firms. Most recently, he was at Current Analysis, an IT research firm, where he was a principal analyst covering topics ranging from data warehousing to data integration and the Semantic Web. Prior to that position, James was a senior technical systems analyst at Exostar (a hosted supply chain management and eBusiness hub for the aerospace and defense industry). In this capacity, James was responsible for identifying and specifying product/service requirements for federated identity, PKI, and other products. He also worked as an analyst for the Burton Group and was previously employed by LCC International, DynCorp, ADEENA, International Center for Information Technologies, and the North American Telecommunications Association. He is both well versed and experienced in product and market assessments. James is a widely published business/technology author and has spoken at many industry events.

Contact –