Detecting a Slots Payout Difference of 2%

Most businesses use statistics and analytics to one degree or another, but there is only one industry that is built solely on this discipline.  This week we look at the casino business - in particular, the odds on slots. Slot machines are a casino’s best…

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Problem of the Week: A betting puzzle

QUESTION: A gambler playing against the “house” in a game like roulette or slots adopts the rule “Play until you win a certain amount, then stop.”  Will this ensure against player losses? What will be its effect on the house’s profit? ANSWER: Some look at this…

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Book Review: Big Data in Practice by Bernard Marr 

This short book is essentially an enriched list of 45 examples of how companies have used big data analytics.  Marr sticks to high level generalities, and the book is in the spirit of light business journalism rather than detailed expositions that walk you through a…

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Dec 6: Statistics in Practice

This week we look at the casino business - in particular, the odds on slots. In our course spotlight, we start looking at some of the great stuff starting in at the beginning of the new year. In January, you can get started with basic statistics or biostatistics,…

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Of Note: Google Zooms Out on Microtargeting

Google recently announced that it would further limit its election ads to audience targeting based on age, gender, and general location (postal code level) context targeting (i.e. showing ads based on the content being viewed) Up to this point, the application of predictive modeling to…

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Nov 25: Statistics in Practice

In this week’s Brief, we take a look at the history of betting and how it is entwined with probabilistic decision-making. Probabilistic decision-making is also the focus of our 3-course Optimization Mastery, which covers linear programming, integer programming, simulation and other operations research (O/R) techniques. Start…

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Data Analytics

Terminology in Data Analytics As data continue to grow at a faster rate than either population or economic activity, so do organizations' efforts to deal with the data deluge, and use it to capture value.  And so do the methods used to analyze data, which…

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Data Analytics Courses

Data analytics and data science are popular terms, and skills in these areas are in great demand.  But what do these terms mean?  Below is an overview and a listing of related courses. For information about our certificate programs in data science and analytics, click here.…

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Statistical Thinking

Gambler’s Fallacy I - forgetting that the “coin has no memory”   Gamblers often believe that after a long streak of one outcome, the probability of a different outcome has increased.  Sports commentators often say that a batter in a slump is “due” for a hit.…

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Latin hypercube

In Monte Carlo sampling for simulation problems, random values are generated from a probability distribution deemed appropriate for a given scenario (uniform, poisson, exponential, etc.).  In simple random sampling, each potential random value within the probability distribution has an equal value of being selected. Just…

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Oct 14: Statistics in Practice

This week we look at several ways to fool yourself, statistically - variants of the “Gambler’s Fallacy.” Gambling is all about accurately assessing risk, so, naturally, our featured course is: Nov 15 - Dec 13: Risk Simulation and Queuing See you in class! - Peter Bruce,…

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Workforce Management

Anyone who has worked in retail knows the anxiety that attends workforce scheduling for both manager and employee.  The manager wonders “Will my employees show up at the right times?” The employee wonders “Will I be scheduled for inconvenient times?  Enough hours? Too many hours?”  …

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Regularize

The art of statistics and data science lies, in part, in taking a real-world problem and converting it into a well-defined quantitative problem amenable to useful solution. At the technical end of things lies regularization. In data science this involves various methods of simplifying models,…

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Machine Learning and Human Bias

Does better AI offer the hope of prejudice-free decision-making?  Ironically, the reverse might be true, especially with the advent of deep learning.   Bias in hiring is one area where private companies move with great care, since there are thickets of laws and regulations in most…

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Oct 7: Statistics in Practice

This week we take a look at how AI encodes human bias, despite our best efforts. Our spotlight this week is on: Nov 8 - Dec 6: Deep Learning See you in class! - Peter Bruce, Chief Academic Officer, Author, Instructor, and Founder The Institute for…

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The Curse of Dimensionality

There are more than 3 dozen curses in Harry Potter.  Data scientists have only one - the “curse of dimensionality.”  Dimensionality is the number of predictors or input variables in a model, and the “curse” refers to the problems that result from including too many…

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Student Spotlight: Peter Mulready

Peter Mulready is an independent consultant, who worked previously as a system architect at Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. Peter got his degree in biology, but his focus shifted to managing and optimizing the use of data in drug discovery research. …

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Anomaly Detection via Conversation: “How was your vacation?”

A friendly query about your holiday might be a question you get from a roaming agent in the check-in area at the Tel Aviv airport.  Israel, considered to have the most effective airport security in the world, does not rely solely on routine mechanical screening…

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Of Note: e-cigarettes

Last week, the Trump administration announced a forthcoming ban on e-cigarettes, following news stories of a spate of deaths from vaping.  The Wall Street Journal, on Friday the 13th, published both an editorial and an op-ed piece suggesting that any harm from e-cigarettes is minor…

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Book Review: Bandit Algorithms for Website Optimization, by John Myles White

Bandit Algorithms for Website Optimization, by John Myles White A classic statistical experimental design comparing treatments (two treatments, treatment versus control, multiple treatments) specifies a sample size, collection of data, then a decision, typically based on hypothesis-testing:  the winning treatment must attain a level of…

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Of Note: “Islands in Search of Contents”

“Islands in Search of Continents” is the subtitle of an article by Michael Clarke and Iain Chalmers in the Journal of the American Medical Association (1998; 280: 280-282).  It refers to the fact that many studies are conducted and reported in isolation from other studies on the…

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Meta Analysis

1.2 million scientific papers were indexed by PubMed in 2011 (see Are Scientists Doing Too Much Research), ample proof that there are lots of people studying the same or similar things.  For example, there have been Over 100 studies of suicide following psychiatric institutionalization     38 studies…

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Industry Spotlight: Health Analytics

Patient Data Management Health analytics is a hot topic now, but to do the analytics you need data - this is where Electronic Health Records (EHR) come in.  An integrated, standardized system for sharing and accessing health data has been “just around the corner” now…

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Of Note: Superusers

“Superusers” of medical services are the small fraction of patients that account for huge consumption of medical services.  An article published August 14, 2019 in JAMA Surgery (online) reports on the application of machine learning methods to Medicare data on 1,049,160 Medicare patients who underwent surgery,…

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Job Spotlight: Biostatisticans

Biostatisticians are the shepherds (and the police) that guide the science of developing new therapies for disease.  They come in several different flavors: Those involved in gathering information, designing experiments and analyzing data at the drug discovery stage - trying to sort out what works…

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Aug 16: Statistics in Practice

Here in Part 2 of the Weekly Brief, we offer some tools to help you with the question, “what is the optimal set of alternatives to offer consumers?” Our course spotlight is on: Aug 30 - Sep 27: Discrete Choice Modeling and Conjoint Analysis See you in…

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Problem of the Week: The Second Heads

QUESTION: A friend tosses two coins, and you ask “Is one of them a heads?”  The friend replies “Yes.” What is the probability that the other is a heads? ANSWER:   One-third.  There are four ways the coins could have landed originally: HH:  0.25 probability…

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Aug 13: Statistics in Practice

This week we discuss the distinction between explanatory and predictive modeling and spotlight the workhorses of statistical modeling: Oct 4 - Nov 1: Regression Analysis Oct 4 - Nov 1: Categorical Data Analysis See you in class! - Peter Bruce,  Chief Academic Officer, Author, Instructor, and Founder The Institute for Statistics Education at Statistics.com…

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Explain or Predict?

A casual user of machine learning methods like CART or naive Bayes is accustomed to evaluating a model by measuring how well it predicts new data.  When examining the output of statistical models, they are often flummoxed by the profusion of assessment metrics. Typical multiple…

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Word of the Week: Intervals (confidence, prediction and tolerance)

All students of statistics encounter confidence intervals.  Confidence intervals tell you, roughly, the interval within which you can be, say, 95% confident that the true value of some sample statistic lies.  This is not the precise technical definition, but it is how people use the…

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Small Ball: Calling all thinkers!

I was visiting New York a couple of weeks ago, transferring from Amtrak to the PATH trains at Newark.  PATH takes you to Wall Street - the #1 financial center in the world - and yet the process of paying for my $2.75 PATH ticket…

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Aug 9: Statistics in Practice

We continue Monday's discussion of "people analytics' with a look from the customer's side and a call for all thinkers! (see below) Our course spotlight is on: Sep 6 - Oct 4: Predictive Analytics 1 - Machine Learning Tools Sep 6 - Oct 4: Programming 1…

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Industry Spotlight: HR (People Analytics)

Analytics has come to HR.  It’s partly Orwellian, tracking what employees do on the computer, and partly warm and fuzzy, leveraging the true informal organizational structure via network analysis (jump into Friday’s Network Analysis course to learn the basics).  One dimension assumes the worst about…

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Aug 5: Statistics in Practice

In this week’s Brief, analytics comes to the HR department (“people analytics”), and our course spotlight is on:  Sep 6 - Oct 4:  Predictive Analytics 1 Sep 6 - Oct 4:  Programming 1 (R or Python)     These courses are excellent entry points into our data…

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Aug 2: Statistics in Practice

In part 1 of this week’s brief, we looked at political analytics; in Part 2 we extend that look to commercial domains. Our course spotlight is Persuasion Analytics, taught by Ken Strasma, who pioneered the use of statistical modeling to microtarget voters in the 2004…

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Industry Spotlight – Precision Agriculture

The application of analytics to agriculture has given rise to what is called "precision agriculture", a science that seeks to take advantage of and use detailed information that is local in time and place. Tractors and farm equipment are being equipped with sensors and software…

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Quotes about Data Science

“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” – Carly Fiorina, former CEO, Hewlett-Packard Co. Speech given at Oracle OpenWorld “Data is the new science. Big data holds the answers.” – Pat Gelsinger, CEO, EMC, Big Bets on Big Data, Forbes“Hiding within those…

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