Tag Archives: data science

Data Science in the NFL

Data Science in the NFL

This is an excellent blog post about a unique use of data science.  Data science can help American football teams select better team-mates.

Strata Healthcare Conference

O’Reilly just announced the creation of a new conference focusing on data science and healthcare. It is named StrataRx 2012. The conference will take place in San Francisco on October 16-17, 2012.

New York City, Columbia University and Data Science

New York City and Columbia University just announced plans to launch the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. The plan is to add 44,000 new square feet of space for labs and other resources. Also, 75 new faculty members are slated to be added in the next 15 years. The following are the proposed main research focus areas:

  1. New Media
  2. Cities
  3. Health
  4. Financial Data
  5. Cybersecurity

New York is becoming one of the top places in the world for data companies, and this announcement only strengthens that case.

See more at the Columbia Engineering site. The announcement and the new leadership of the Institute.

The Data Stack: A Structured Approach

The Data Stack: A Structured Approach

This is great post about the data stack at Factual.

Learn Data Science

Starting Point

If you have the necessary background in math, statistics, and computer science; then it is a good time to learn some data science specific skills. Coursera just recently launched a course specifically devoted to Data Science. It is titled: Introduction to Data Science. The course is being taught by Bill Howe of the University of Washington’s eScience Institute. I believe this course is an excellent place to start. I am very excited about this course.

Other Data Science Learning Resources

Here is a listing of other materials that could be helpful to learning data science.

Learn Statistics For Data Science

Statistics is an important component of data science. Thus, it would be nice to have some resources available.

Learn Statistics For Free Online

Well, here is a list of free statistics resources available online. All of these are fairly introductory, but I am guessing more advanced topics will be coming from these same organizations.

Not-Free Resources

In addition to the free resources online, there are other options as well.

  • Statistics.com – courses are about $400-$500 but programs lead to certificates
  • Most all local colleges will offer courses in statistics

What other resources are available for learning statistics?

Learn Math for Data Science

Math is one of the key building blocks of data science. While you cannot do a lot of data science with just calculus and linear algebra, both topics are essential for more advanced topics in data science such as machine learning, algorithms, and advanced statistics. Here are some freely available resources for learning both topics.


Matrix Operations/Linear Algebra

Other Math Options

The following 2 courses from Coursera maybe good for a person learning to think mathematically.

Data Jujitsu Report

O’Reilly and Data Scientist DJ Patil just released a new free report titled, Data Jujitsu: The Art of Turning Data Into Product. If you are interested in building data products, the report is excellent and definitely worth your time.

What does the report cover?

The report provides a definition for a data product. It then covers a process for taking an idea from concept to reality. The main point is to use some shortcuts and get the product out fast. Then if people like the product, and only then, spend some time really enhancing the algorithms.

Resistance to Making Decisions based upon Data

It is no surprise that I enjoy talking about data science and using data to make better decisions. Unfortunately, everyone is not as excited about data as I am. I occasionally face some resistance. One of the most common arguments goes something like this:

Why would I put in the extra work to find data that will tell me what I already know?

Because you might not really know what you think you know.

People are very comfortable making decisions based off gut feelings, assumptions, and personal biases. They obviously think the decisions are the correct ones. Many times the gut feeling is correct. However, the problem is those times when the gut feeling is not the right decision. In those cases, I would prefer to have some good data behind my choice. Here are a couple scenarios:

A Website Scenario

We should choose the white background because it produces 75% more signups than the blue background.


We should choose white because I got a good feeling people will like it better.

A Healthcare Scenario

You should try these pills because numerous tests have shown good results for people your age and weight.


I got a hunch these pills will make you better.

Both of these decisions are made everyday. Surely the doctor cannot knowingly prescribe a harmful drug, but many times the prescription is just for the standard drug matching the symptoms. Are all patients standard? Personally, I would feel more confident about the first decision in each scenario. But hey, I like data.

Why are people so skeptical to use data for better decision making? I do not know. Maybe some people are afraid the data might not match their assumptions. Maybe they just don’t want to put in the extra effort. I probably need some better data to properly answer this question.

Have you faced similar resistance? How do you convince people to use data for decision making?

Coursera Launches Data Analysis Classes

In case you missed the announcement yesterday, Coursera added 12 new universities and over 100 new courses. The exciting part for people learning data science is a new category of courses: Statistics, Data Analysis, and Scientific Computing. None of the courses have started yet. Most are scheduled for this fall or early 2013. The courses look very good.

Are you excited about these new courses?