Posts Tagged ‘ Business ’

Statbusters are back, taking on robots that hire people

July 27, 2015
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In our newest column, we take on the recent media obsession with companies who make robots that hire people. (link) As with most articles about data science, the journalists failed to dig up any evidence that these robots work, other than glowing quotes from the people who are selling these robots. We point out a number of challenges that such algorithms must overcome in order to generate proper predictions. We…

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It is possible to not learn real causes from some A/B tests

July 20, 2015
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It is conventional wisdom that A/B testing (or in proper terms, randomized controlled experiments) is the gold standard for causal analysis, meaning if you run an A/B test, you know what caused an effect. In practice, this is not always true. Sometimes, the A/B test only provides a statistical understanding of causes but not an average Joe's understanding. Let's start with a hypothetical example in which both definitions are aligned.…

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Incomprehensible, and even insidious

July 17, 2015
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Incomprehensible, and even insidious

A reader Alex V. nominated this chart as one of the most incomprehensible ever: This comes from the Annual Report 2014 of Allison Transmission. I applaud the fact that they obviously spent time making the charts. This is not something...

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Maps and legends

July 15, 2015
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Maps and legends

This chart, which I found flipping through Stern magazine in Germany, accomplishes one important goal. It makes me stop flipping, and look. The chart presents a point of view that is refreshing. The Airbus A320 is a true collaborative effort....

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Flawed thinking about causes

July 13, 2015
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One of the most misguided and dangerous ideas floated around by a group of Big Data enthusiasts is the notion that it is not important to understand why something happens, just because "we have a boatload of data". This is one of the central arguments in the bestseller Big Data, and it reached the mainstream much earlier when Chris Anderson, then chief editor of Wired, published his flamboyantly-titled op-ed proclaiming…

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Would you be willing to miss a train to admire art?

July 8, 2015
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Would you be willing to miss a train to admire art?

This wonderful data visualization made me stop in my tracks at a train station somewhere in Bavaria. It conveys so much information in such an efficient manner. At a glance, the diagram tells passengers the configuration of the train they...

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Is data privacy a fundamental right?

July 4, 2015
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This piece is part of the StatBusters column written jointly with Andrew Gelman. Hope they fix the labeling soon. In it, we talk about two recent studies on data privacy, which leads to contradictory conclusions. How should the media report such surveys? Is the brand name of the organization enough? In addition, we debunk the notion that consumers will definitely get something valuable out of sharing their data.

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The Day After the Half Day in the Life of a Data Scientist

June 16, 2015
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In the last installment, I embarked on a project--perhaps only a task--to assemble a membership list for an organization. It sounded simple: how hard could it be to merge two lists of people? Of course, I couldn’t just stitch one list on top of the other as there are members who subscribed to the newsletter as well as joined the Facebook group. These duplicate rows must be merged so that…

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A Half-day in the Life of a Data Scientist

June 11, 2015
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An organization wanted to understand its base of members so the first order of business was constructing a database of all people who can be considered members. We decided to define membership broadly. Members included those who join the Facebook group, and those who subscribed to the newsletter. The organization kept two separate lists which I would merge to create a master list. For simplicity, I’ll call them the FB…

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What I said about data science at Princeton Reunions

June 3, 2015
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What I said about data science at Princeton Reunions

Here was how I spent last weekend: At college reunions in beautiful Princeton on a glorious sunny day. I also spoke about data science at a Faculty-Alumni panel titled "Science Under Attack!". Here is what I said: In the past five to 10 years, there has been an explosion of interest in using data in business decision-making. What happens when business executives learn that the data do not support their…

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