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Industry Spotlight: The IRS is Watching You

The IRS (U.S. Internal Revenue Service) has been using computers to choose tax returns for audit since 1962. Early on, the selection was rule-based, but the IRS turned to statistical modeling in 1969, using the oldest predictive analytics model in the toolbox – discriminant analysis. Discriminant analysis, a linear classification technique, was first proposed byContinue reading “Industry Spotlight: The IRS is Watching You”

Industry Spotlight: Baseball – Opening Day & Statistics in Sports

The U.S. baseball season opens Thursday, March 28, and celebrates the 48th season of analytics in baseball, beginning with the founding of the Sabermetric Society in 1971 (the same year that Satchel Paige entered the Hall of Fame). Analytics has come a long way in sports, and now has its own conference, the MIT SportsContinue reading “Industry Spotlight: Baseball – Opening Day & Statistics in Sports”

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 exactly opposite ways – boosting up-weights them, and ProfWeight down-weightsContinue reading “Handling the Noise – Boost It or Ignore It?”

The Statistics of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion is the title of more than one book in the self-help genre, books that have spawned blogs, podcasts, speaking gigs and more. But the science of persuasion is actually of more interest, because it produces useful rules that can be studied and deployed. Marketers and politicians have long been enthusiastic usersContinue reading “The Statistics of Persuasion”

Book Review: Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioral economics, much of it with his colleague Amos Tversky, who died in 2006. Kahneman’s 2011 classic, Thinking Fast and Slow, is a superbly-written non-technical summary of their fascinating research and its often counter-intuitive findings. The best feature of the book is theContinue reading “Book Review: Thinking Fast and Slow”

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 typically three types of employers: Marketing agencies that contract outContinue reading “Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer”

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 recall major forecasting gaffes of the past. In 1987, best-sellingContinue reading “Examples of Bad Forecasting”

Course Spotlight: Two statistical modeling courses

Two important statistical modeling courses are coming up in May. May 18 – Jun 15: Principal Components and Factor Analysis May 18 – Jun 15: Modeling Count Data   Factor analysis is used frequently in social science research where you want to examine that which you cannot observe (latent variables) using data that you canContinue reading “Course Spotlight: Two statistical modeling courses”