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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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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Social Network Analysis (SNA) in Medicine

In hospitals, “sentinel events” are events that carry with them a significant risk of unexpected death or harm.  It is estimated that ⅔ of such sentinel events result from communications failures during the handoff of a patient from one provider to another (e.g. during a…

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Matching Algorithms

Some applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence are recognizably impressive - predicting future hospital readmission of discharged patients, for example, or diagnosing retinopathy. Others - self-driving cars, for example - seem almost magical. The matching problem, though, is one where your first reaction might…

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Instructor Spotlight: Cliff Ragsdale

Cliff T. Ragsdale teaches several courses for the Institute in the area of operations research, based on his best selling text “Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis.”  One of Cliff’s special talents is making his subject, which can be quite challenging technically, widely accessible. His courses do…

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Industry Spotlight: Consulting

When a new technology arrives, consulting companies can quickly add staff and expertise to build institutional capacity centered around the technology in ways companies focused on delivering their own products and services cannot.  Large consulting companies like Booz Allen and McKinsey, as well as smaller…

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Industry Spotlight: Military Operations

Abraham Wald, a persecuted Jewish mathematician who fled Austria just before World War II, led an analysis of allied bombers returning from missions.  Hitherto, the Air Force had focused on reinforcing areas that showed the most damage on return. Wald convinced them instead to focus…

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Problem of the Week: The Value of Bedrooms

Question: You work for an internet real-estate company, building statistical models to predict home price on the basis of square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, property type (single family home, townhouse, multiplex), and age. Surprisingly, you find the coefficient for bedrooms is negative,…

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Statistically Significant – But Not True

If you are looking for the Feature Engineering blog post, you can find it here: https://www.statistics.com/blog/1/1558369154-feature-engineering-data-prep-still-needed/ In 2015, at an Alzheimer's conference, Biogen researchers presented dramatic brain scans showing that the antibody aducanumab effectively cleared out plaque in the brain, plaque that was associated with…

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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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Industry Spotlight: Credit Scoring

In the U.S., credit scoring is dominated by three companies - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, employing roughly 30,000 people. An important player in the scoring methodology is FICO, previously Fair Isaac Corporation, and the scores are typically called "FICO scores." Credit scoring is the oldest…

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Industry Spotlight: Package Delivery

Nothing better illustrates the encroachment of data science and analytics on the older "economy of tangible things" than the business of delivering packages. The use of analytics in package delivery is not new. Companies like UPS and Fedex are longtime users of operations research methods…

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Industry Spotlight: Customer Segmentation

Are you "young and rustic?" Or perhaps a "toolbelt traditionalist?" These are nicknames given to customer segments identified by market research firm Claritas, with its statistical clustering tool. Long before the advent of individualized product recommendations, business sought to segment customers into distinct groups on…

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Handling the Noise – Boost It or Ignore It?

In most statistical modeling or machine learning prediction tasks, there will be cases that can be easily predicted based on their predictor values (signal), as well as cases where predictions are unclear (noise). Two statistical learning methods, boosting and ProfWeight, use those difficult cases in…

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Instructor Spotlight: Cliff Ragsdale

Cliff T. Ragsdale teaches several courses for the Institute in the area of operations research, based on his best selling text "Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis." One of Cliff's special talents is making his subject, which can be quite challenging technically, widely accessible. His courses…

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Alaskan Generosity

People in Alaska are extraordinarily generous - that's what a predictive model showed, when applied to a charitable organization's donor list. A closer examination revealed a flaw - while the original data was for all 50 states, the model's training data for Alaska included donors,…

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Why Analytics Projects Fail – 5 Reasons

With the news full of so many successes in the fields of analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is easy to lose sight of the high failure rate of analytics projects. McKinsey just came out with a report that only 8% of big companies…

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Football Analytics

Preparing for the Superbowl Your team is at midfield, you have the ball, it's 4th down with 2 yards to go. Should you go for it? (Apologies in advance to our many readers, especially those outside the U.S., who are not aficionados of American football,…

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Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer

A digital marketer handles a variety of tasks in online marketing - managing online advertising and search engine optimization (SEO), implementing tracking systems (e.g. to identify how a person came to a retailer), web development, preparing creatives, implementing tests, and, of course, analytics. There are…

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Things are Getting Better

In the visualization below, which line do you think represents the UN's forecast for the number of children in the world in the year 2100? Hans Rosling, in his book Factfulness, presents this chart and notes that in a sample of Norwegian teachers, only 9%…

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Work and Heat

If you are working on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, odds are it is from home, where you can (usually) control the temperature in the home. Which, from the standpoint of productivity, is a good thing. According to a study from Cornell, raising…

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The False Alarm Conundrum

False alarms are one of the most poorly understood problems in applied statistics and biostatistics. The fundamental problem is the wide application of a statistical or diagnostic test in search of something that is relatively rare. Consider the Apple Watch's new feature that detects atrial…

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How Google Determines Which Ads you See

A classic machine learning task is to predict something's class, usually binary - pictures as dogs or cats, insurance claims as fraud or not, etc. Often the goal is not a final classification, but an estimate of the probability of belonging to a class (propensity),…

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Deming’s Funnel Problem

W. Edwards Deming's funnel problem is one of statistics' greatest hits. Deming was a noted statistician who took the statistical process control methods of Shewhart and expanded them into a holistic approach to manufacturing quality. Initially, his ideas were cooly received in the US and…

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Industry Spotlight: the Auto Industry

The auto industry serves as a perfect exemplar of three key eras of statistics and data science in service of industry: Total Quality Management (TQM) First in Japan, and later in the U.S., the auto industry became an enthusiastic adherent to the Total Quality Management…

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Analytics Professionals – Must They Be Good Communicators?

Most job ads in the technical arena list communication among the sought-after skills; it consistently outranks many programming and analytical skills. Is it for real, or is it just thrown in there by the HR Department on general principle? The founder of a leading analytics…

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Examples of Bad Forecasting

In a couple of days, theWall Street Journalwill come out with its November survey of economists' forecasts. It's a particularly sensitive time, with elections in a few days and President Trump attacking the Federal Reserve for for raising interest rates. It's a good time to…

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100 years of variance

It is 100 years since R A Fischer introduced the concept of "variance" (in his 1918 paper "The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance"). There is much that statistics has given us in the century that followed. Randomized clinical trials, and the means…

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Course Spotlight: Structural Equation Modelling (SEM)

SEM stands for "structural equation modeling," and we are fortunate to have Prof. Randall Schumacker teaching this subject at Statistics.com. Randy created the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) journal in 1994 and the Structural Equation Modeling Special Interest Group (SIG) at the American Educational Research Association…

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Benford’s Law Applies to Online Social Networks

Fake social media accounts and Russian meddling in US elections have been in the news lately, with Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) testifying this week before the US Congress. Dr. Jen Golbeck, who teaches Network Analysis at Statistics.com, published an ingenious way to determine whether a…

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Masters Programs versus an Online Certificate in Data Science from Statistics.com

We just attended the analytics conference of INFORMS' (The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) this week in Baltimore, and they held a special meeting for directors of academic analytics programs to better align what universities are producing with what industry is seeking.…

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Course Spotlight: Customer Analytics in R

"The customer is always right" was the motto Selfridge's department store coined in 1909. "We'll tell the customer what they want" was Madison Avenue's mantra starting in the 1950's. Now data scientists like Karolis Urbonas help companies like Amazon (where he works in Europe as…

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“Money and Brains” and “Furs and Station Wagons”

"Money and Brains" and "Furs and Station Wagons" were evocative customer shorthands that the marketing company Claritas came up with over a half century ago. These names, which facilitated the work of marketers and sales people, were shorthand descriptions of segments of customers identified through…

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Be Smarter Than Your Devices: Learn About Big Data

When Apple CEO Tim Cook finally unveiled his company's new Apple Watch in a widely-publicizedrolloutearlier this month, most of the press coverage centered on its cost ($349 to start) and whether it would be as popular among consumers as the iPod or iMac. Nitin Indurkhyasaw…

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Course Spotlight: The Text Analytics Sequence

Text analytics or text mining is the natural extension of predictive analytics, and Statistics.com's text analytics program starts Feb. 6. Text analytics is now ubiquitous and yields insight in: Marketing: Voice of the customer, social media analysis, churn analysis, market research, survey analysis Business: Competitive…

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Course Spotlight: Constrained Optimization

Say you operate a tank farm (to store and sell fuel). How much of each fuel grade should you buy? You have specified flow and storage capacities, constraints on what types of fuels can be stored in which tanks, prior contractual obligations about minimum monthly…

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Dialects

When talking to several people, do you address them as "you guys"? "Y'all"? Just "you"? And is the carbonated soft drink "soda" or "pop?" Maps based on survey responses to questions like this were published in the Harvard Dialect Survey in 2003. Josh Katz took…

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Needle in a Haystack

What's the probability that the NSA examined the metadata for your phone number in 2013? According to John Inglis, Deputy Director at the NSA, it's about 0.00001, or 1 in 100,000. A surprisingly small number, given what we've all been reading in the media about…

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Terrorist Clusters

The "righteous vengeance gun attack" is just one of 10 types of terrorism identified by Chenoweth and Lowham via statistical clustering techniques. Another cluster is "bombings of a public population where a liberation group takes responsibility." You can read about the 10 clusters, and the…

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Statistics.com Partners With CrowdANALYTIX to Offer New Online Course With Crowdsource Contest As Project

Crowdsourcing, using the power of the crowd to solve problems, has been used for many functions and tasks, including predictive modeling (like the 2009 Netflix Contest). Typically, problems are broadcast to an unknown group of statistical modelers on the Internet, and solutions are sought. Every…

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