Big Noise on Big Data

Increasingly Big Data is used in writing where Business Analytics was used, and data mining is thrown in as a word just to keep liberal art majors happy that they are reading a scientific article.

Some Big Words I have noticed in my Short life-

Big Data? High Performance Analytics? High Performance Computing ? Cloud Computing? Time Sharing? Data Mining? SEMMA? CRISP-DM? KDD? Business Intelligence? Business Analytics and Optimization? (pick a card and any card)

(or Just Moore’s Law catching up with the analytics)

Some examples-

Replace Big Data with Analytics in these articles and let me know if you can make out much of a difference

  • Big Data on Campus

  • From the man who famously said BI is dead, is now burying Business Analytics within the new buzzword , SAS CMO Jim Davis

How to transform big data from an obstacle into an asset

(Related- Is big data over hyped? by Jim Davis )

I am sure by 2015, Jim Davis, NYT and the merry men of analytics will find some other buzzwords to rally the troops. In the meantime, let me throw out the flag and call it Big  .

Hacker Alert- Darpa project 10$ K for summer

If you bleed red,white and blue and know some geo-spatial analysis ,social network analysis and some supervised and unsupervised learning (and unlearning)- here is a chance for you to put your skills for an awesome project


from wired-


For this challenge, Darpa will lodge a selected six to eight teams at George Mason University and provide them with an initial $10,000 for equipment and access to unclassified data sets including “ground-level video of human activity in both urban and rural environments; high-resolution wide-area LiDAR of urban and mountainous terrain, wide-area airborne full motion video; and unstructured amateur photos and videos, such as would be taken from an adversary’s cell phone.” However, participants are encouraged to use any open sourced, legal data sets they want. (In the hackathon spirit, we would encourage the consumption of massive quantities of pizza and Red Bull, too.)


DARPA Innovation House Project

Home | Data Access | Awards | Team Composition | Logisitics | Deliverables | Proposals | Evaluation Criteria | FAQ


Proposals must be one to three pages. Team resumes of any length must be attached and do not count against the page limit. Proposals must have 1-inch margins, use a font size of at least 11, and be delivered in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format.

Proposals must be emailed to by 4:00PM ET on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

Proposals must have a Title and contain at least the following sections with the following contents.

  1. Team Members

Each team member must be listed with name, email and phone.
The Lead Developer should be indicated.
The statement “All team members are proposed as Key Personnel.” must be included.

  1. Capability Description

The description should clearly explain what capability the software is designed to provide the user, how it is proposed to work, and what data it will process.

In addition, a clear argument should be made as to why it is a novel approach that is not incremental to existing methods in the field.

  1. Proposed Phase 1 Demonstration

This section should clearly explain what will be demonstrated at the end of Session I. The description should be expressive, and as concrete as possible about the nature of the designs and software the team intends to produce in Session I.

  1. Proposed Phase 2 Demonstration

This section should clearly explain how the final software capability will be demonstrated as quantitatively as possible (for example, positing the amount of data that will be processed during the demonstration), how much time that will take, and the nature of the results the processing aims to achieve.

In addition, the following sections are optional.

  1. Technical Approach

The technical approach section amplifies the Capability Description, explaining proposed algorithms, coding practices, architectural designs and/or other technical details.

  1. Team Qualifications

Team qualifications should be included if the team?s experience base does not make it obvious that it has the potential to do this level of software development. In that case, this section should make a credible argument as to why the team should be considered to have a reasonable chance of completing its goals, especially under the tight timelines described.

Other sections may be included at the proposers? discretion, provided the proposal does not exceed three pages.





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-

Text Mining Barack Obama using R #rstats

  • We copy and paste President Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech in a text document and read it in. For a word cloud we need a dataframe with two columns, one with words and the the other with frequency.We read in the transcript from  and paste in the file located in the local directory- /home/ajay/Desktop/new. Note tm is a powerful package and will read ALL the text documents within the particular folder




b=Corpus(DirSource(txt2), readerControl = list(language = “eng”))

> b b b tdm m1 v1 d1 wordcloud(d1$word,d1$freq)

Now it seems we need to remove some of the very commonly occuring words like “the” and “and”. We are not using the standard stopwords in english (the tm package provides that see Chapter 13 Text Mining case studies), as the words “we” and “can” are also included .

> b tdm m1 v1 d1 wordcloud(d1$word,d1$freq)

But let’s see how the wordcloud changes if we remove all English Stopwords.

> b tdm m1 v1 d1 wordcloud(d1$word,d1$freq)

and you can draw your own conclusions from the content of this famous speech based on your political preferences.

Politicians can give interesting speeches but they may be full of simple sounding words…..


1. Ingo Feinerer (2012). tm: Text Mining Package. R package version0.5-7.1.

Ingo Feinerer, Kurt Hornik, and David Meyer (2008). Text Mining
Infrastructure in R. Journal of Statistical Software 25/5. URL:

2. Ian Fellows (2012). wordcloud: Word Clouds. R package version 2.0.

3. You can see more than 100 of Obama’s speeches at

Quote- numbers dont lie, people do.


Topic Models

Some stuff on Topic Models-

In machine learning and natural language processing, a topic model is a type of statistical model for discovering the abstract “topics” that occur in a collection of documents. An early topic model was probabilistic latent semantic indexing (PLSI), created by Thomas Hofmann in 1999.[1] Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA), perhaps the most common topic model currently in use, is a generalization of PLSI developed by David Blei, Andrew Ng, and Michael Jordan in 2002, allowing documents to have a mixture of topics.[2] Other topic models are generally extensions on LDA, such as Pachinko allocation, which improves on LDA by modeling correlations between topics in addition to the word correlations which constitute topics. Although topic models were first described and implemented in the context of natural language processing, they have applications in other fields such as bioinformatics.

In statistics, latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) is a generative model that allows sets of observations to be explained by unobserved groups that explain why some parts of the data are similar. For example, if observations are words collected into documents, it posits that each document is a mixture of a small number of topics and that each word’s creation is attributable to one of the document’s topics. LDA is an example of a topic model

David M Blei’s page on Topic Models-

The topic models mailing list is a good forum for discussing topic modeling.

In R,

Some resources I compiled on Slideshare based on the above- Continue reading “Topic Models”

Business Analytics Projects

As per me, Analytics Projects get into these four  broad phases-

  • Business Problem  PhaseWhat needs to be done?
  1. Increase Revenues
  2. Cut Costs
  3. Investigate Unusual Events
  4. Project Timelines
  • Technical Problem PhaseTechnical Problems in Project Execution 
  1. Data Availability /Data Quality/Data Augmentation Costs
  2. Statistical -(Technique based approach) , Hypothesis Formulation,Sampling, Iterations
  3. Programming-(Tool based approach) Analytics Platform Coding (Input, Formats,Processing)
  • Technical Solution PhaseProblem Solving using the Tools and Skills Available 
  1. Data Cleaning /Outlier Treatment/Missing Value Imputation
  2. Statistical -(Technique based approach) Error Minimization, Model Validation, Confidence Levels
  3. Programming-(Tool based approach) Analytics Platform Coding (Output, Display,Graphs)
  • Business Solution PhasePut it all together in a word document, presentation and/or spreadsheet
  1. Finalized- Forecasts  , Models and Data Strategies
  2. Improvements  in existing processes
  3.  Control and Monitoring of Analytical Results post Implementation
  4. Legal and Compliance  guidelines to execution
  5. (Internal or External) Client Satisfaction and Expectation Management
  6. Audience Feedback based on presenting final deliverable to broader audience

Libre Office Templates and Extensions

Libre Office just announced a new repository for extensions and templates.

  • Gallery of danger signs


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    Gallery of danger signs
    in Gallery Contents for all program modulesThis extension add 4 themes to your gallery with more than 400 cliparts dealing with security at work. Better than bitmap, cliparts are vector graphics in ODF …

    Latest release compatible with: LibreOffice 3.3.4 , LibreOffice 3.3.3 , LibreOffice 3.3.2 , LibreOffice 3.3.1 , LibreOffice 3.3 , LibreOffice 3.4 , LibreOffice 3.4.1 , LibreOffice 3.4.2 Continue reading “Libre Office Templates and Extensions”