Tag Archives: machine learning

Machine Learning for Hackers

Hilary Mason provides another great talk title: Machine Learning for Hackers. The video is worth watching. Enjoy!

Coursera is Expanding – New Courses Starting Today

Since recently announcing $16M in funding, Coursera has been making quite a bit of noise. Last fall, Stanford University decided to freely offer a couple computer science classes online. The response was huge, and that led to the creation of Coursera.

The courses are no longer limited to computer science, and Stanford is no longer the only school involved. Here is a list of academic areas being offered and another list with the schools involved.

Academic Areas

Universities Involved

Although, not all of the courses will be directly related to data science, many of them are very close. Naturally Math, Statistics, and Computer Science areas have direct relations to data science. However, some of the other areas such as Networks, Biology, and Economics are some of the most popular application areas for data science. This is very exciting. My only concern is that the courses are a bit too much like traditional university courses with specific start/end dates and homework due dates. It will be interesting to see if the course structures change over time.

Anyhow, the following courses are starting today. Signup and start learning.

  • Machine Learning – A major focus area of data science
  • Computer Science 101 – probably a good starting point if you don’t know how to program
  • Compilers – good for understanding how programming languages work
  • Automata – hard to explain in 1 line, but it contains some fundamental principles in computer science
  • Intro to Logic – learn to reason systematically
  • Computer Vision – not sure of the relation to data science, but I am sure there is one, if you know, please leave a comment

Are you going to enroll in any of these courses?

Machine Learning: Algorithms that Produce Clusters | Architects Zone

Machine Learning: Algorithms that Produce Clusters | Architects Zone.

The above article provides a nice brief overview of 5 clustering algorithms.

  1. K-Means
  2. Hierarchical Clustering
  3. Fuzzy C-Means
  4. Multi-Gaussian with Expectation-Maximization
  5. Density-based Cluster

This goes well with a previous post about 6 Machine Learning Algorithms.

A Data Science Curriculum

This is not intended to be mapped to a set of college courses. It is intended to be a listing of necessary skills for a data scientist. For a definition of data scientist, see this previous post.


  • Calculus – not directly important to data science, but the knowledge is important to understand the statistics and machine learning
  • Matrix Operations


  • Regression – Linear and Logistic
  • Bayesian Statistics


  • Hadoop
  • R – stats
  • Octave – machine learning


  • Basic Programming – Java, C/C++, and Python seem to be good language choices
  • Machine Learning
  • Database Knowledge – not limited to just relational databases


  • Data Visualization – how to make data look good: maps, graphs, etc
  • Presentation – story telling, be comfortable explaining data to others
  • Writing

Do you have anything to add/remove from the list?

6 Machine Learning Algorithms

6 Machine Learning Algorithms

This posts provides a nice quick overview of 6 machine learning algorithms.

  1. Decision Trees
  2. Linear Regression
  3. Neural Networks
  4. Bayesian Networks
  5. Support Vector Machines (SVMs)
  6. Nearest Neighbor

Machine Learning on Big Data

Max Lin of Google Research provides a great slide deck.  The title is self-explanitory.

Stanford Machine Learning Class – What is covered

A few days ago, I mentioned that the Stanford Machine Learning class will be starting soon.  I thought I should quickly mention some of the topics covered.  The list also serves as a great outline for machine learning.

Supervised Learning

In supervised learning, one has a set of data with features and labels.

  • Linear Regression – one/multiple variables
  • Gradient Descent – a general algorithm for minimizing a function
  • Logistic Regression – This is useful when predicting classification type results.  For example, are you looking for a yes or no result.  Does the patient have cancer?  Will the customer buy my new product?  It can also be helpful for more than 2 results.  What color will a person choose (red, blue, green, silver)?
  • Neural Networks – A learning algorithm that is modeled after the brain.  Think of neurons.
  • Support Vector Machines

Unsupervised Learning

In unsupervised learning, one has a set of data with no features and labels.  Can some structure be found for the data?

  • Clustering – The most popular technique is K-means.
  • PCA (Principal Components Analysis) – speed up a learning algorithm

Anomaly Detection

This section covers methods to determine if data is bad.  Bad data is considered an anomaly.

Recommender Systems

Like the name says, recommender systems are used to make recommendations.  Companies like Netflix use recommender systems to recommend new movies to customers.  LinkedIn also recommends people to connect with.  This is a fairly hot topic in the tech world right now.

  • Content Based(Features)
    • Modified Linear Regression
  • Non-content Based(No Features)
    • Collaborative Filtering
    • Matrix Factorization

If any of these topics sound interesting to you, signup for the Stanford Machine Learning class.  Professor Andrew Ng will do an excellent job explaining the details.

Machine Learning – Big Data – Hadoop


This is a nice post by Socketware.  It provides a nice overview of a few machine learning algorithms.

  • Recommendation Mining
  • Document Clustering
  • Document Classification
  • Frequent Itemset Mining

Don't Miss – Stanford Machine Learning

In a matter of days, Stanford will begin the second round of the free online machine learning course. I enrolled in the course last fall, and it exceded all expectations. Professor Andrew Ng is great. The prerequisites are minimal, so don’t worry if your math is a little rusty. Also, the videos are short (around 8 – 12 minutes). Therefore, you don’t need large blocks of time set aside. Just watch a video or two during your lunch and you should be able to keep up. There are programming assignments (optional) and review questions to go along with the videos.

Don’t worry if you fall behind. The videos will still be there. The material you learn is more important than the pace. If you don’t know machine learning, the Stanford class is a great opportunity to get started.

Here is Professor Ng’s introduction to the class.

What is a data scientist?

If I am going to create a blog about becoming a data scientist, I must at least provide some type of definition.  One of the best definitions I have read is by Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at Bit.ly,

A data scientist is someone who can obtain, scrub, explore, model and interpret data, blending hacking, statistics, and machine learning.

This definition is short and simple, but there are many more definitions out there.  In fact CITO Research, a site for CIOs and CTOs, set out to define what a data scientist is.  They interviewed six leaders in the data science community, and posted all of the interviews online.  The interviews produced varied results, but focused on some main themes of what a data scientist should know.

After reading Hilary’s definition, the CITO Research interview’s, a great post at Quora, and numerous other articles, I created a list of data science skills:

  • Machine Learning
  • Statistics
  • Story Telling (Communication)
  • Big Data
  • Algorithms
  • Curiosity

I am sure this list will change and evolve over time, but that is where I am going to focus for now.  If you have anything to add to the list, please leave a comment.  If you are interested in gaining some data science skills, please follow along and let’s learn together.