How is automation changing data science and machine learning?

We have come a long way since the introduction of data science and machine learning. The recent study has found that the volume of business data doubles in less than 14 months. Today, the collection of data is no longer a problem, but the filtration, analysis, and maintenance of relevant information is a bigger issue.

We need to hire data science professionals, and they demand over $100k annually. Paying that sort of money for a professional is not feasible for every single organization, especially small and middle-sized companies. Google recently announced that it is going to make machine learning technology possible for every business.

The access to machine learning technology is now possible, even for small businesses due to automation. Google, Microsoft, and other companies have come up with automated machine learning tools that enable small businesses to use machine learning technology to enhance their business performance and profit.

Image Source: Google Cloud

With that said, the world still needs a lot of machine learning professionals. Many machine learning professionals prefer Python for machine learning due to its features and a wide range of libraries.

According to the Gartner report, around 40% of data science tasks will be automated by 2020. The data science tools can automate some parts of data science processes, but it is not complete automation.

With that said, it has been helping a lot to accelerate the tasks. We still need data science professionals to deal with real-world problems. The algorithms are not yet able to handle messy data. The significant chunk of data science professionals often prefers performing with data science with Python for sophisticated tasks.

Automation in Data Science

Let me show you the figure right at the beginning before moving forward.

Image Source: Wikipedia

If I had to use only one word to describe the entire data science process, I would use the word “headache.” According to the recent report, the median salary of data scientists easily surpasses $100k annually. The pay will be higher in the time to come.

One needs to pay a lot of money and invest a lot of time to get insights from the collected data. The data scientists need to spend almost 50-60% of their time in data processing and the rest of their time in modeling and deployment.

The cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft Azure, and so on make the job more comfortable, but there is still a lot of work to maintain and extract useful insights from the collected data.

The data science process has lots of inefficiencies. At first, they need to spend over 50% of their total time on processing messy real-world data. After that, there could be a need to customize models, according to specific problems.

The significant contribution of automation is making a significant portion of data processing parts automated. Secondly, the automated platforms can make tracking of various models easier from multiple parameters. The time needed to launch the algorithm is minimal.

One example of an extensive tool to handle a data science project is Alteryx. IT has come up with powerful automated solutions that can drastically reduce the data processing and model development time for smoothening the entire data science workflow. The data science platform, Alteryx, is so amazing that its share price doubled in a span of little more than a year.

Some other great tools that can help you in data science automation are Rapidminer,, KNIME, and so on. However, the lack of skilled data scientists can create a problem despite these tools. It is where the role of automated machine learning pops in.

How is Machine Learning Transformed with the entrance of Automation?

The traditional machine learning process was too complicated. One requires to have a lot of expensive machine learning professionals working for months to come up with models to process machine learning tasks.

Image Source: Medium

To make traditional machine learning work, one needs to gather data, standardize data, process features, create and train the machine learning model from problems, validate the models, and deploy the models at last.

You must have heard of how machine learning is only for corporations in the past. But, that has drastically changed in recent time, and it is all due to automation. Keep in mind that the above machine learning model is a simple one. There is a lot of extra works for complicated models. Even for the simple ones, you need to spend a lot of time and money, which makes it impossible for small and medium companies.

The automation in machine learning is all about automating the entire process to make machine learning easier. The only thing you need to do is feed data to the system (not a massive volume of data). You do not need even to cross the three-figure number of images to continue with automated machine learning platforms.

Microsoft has its automl platform along with Google. Other automl platforms can do the trick for you. Using those platforms do not cost you an arm and a leg. If you check out the price, you will be surprised.

There is no need for you to create or deploy models or even test the models. The algorithm will do the job for you. It takes examples and models of historical models to process the data and use a machine learning algorithm.

Even non-statistician can implement machine learning technology with limited data, thanks to automation in machine learning. You can make use of predictive analytics and can get easy solutions for simple prediction problems without scratching your head. Numerous libraries can assist you in the automated generation of machine learning pipelines.

How are the jobs of data scientists simplified by the introduction of automation in machine learning and data science?

It is true that the introduction of automation has drastically reduced the time for completing the tasks for data scientists. They no longer have to spend their valuable time in time-consuming, monotonous works that are necessary but do not provide a lot of value.

However, the need for skilled data scientists still exist, and it will always be there in the time to come. There are challenging works for data scientists that we cannot replace with machines, such as listening to clients, figuring out the root cause of business issues, development and selection of the right solution for the specific business problem.

Just like in other types of jobs, the advancement of automation technologies will modify the tasks that data scientists need to perform. They will be able to allocate more time on things that matter rather than monotonous tasks.

Final Verdict

The automation of machine learning and data science are in the beginning stage. However, they are already making a massive impact on the business world. The huge corporations are investing in Big Data and Machine Learning technologies. We can expect a considerable improvement in these technologies shortly.

Sooner, the competitive advantage of a business will depend on how well they can use the technologies, instead of access to machine learning or Big Data technologies.  I hope this article was valuable to you. If you want to add something or express your thoughts, feel free to leave a comment. I will gladly read and reply to your comment.

A common trap when it comes to sampling from a population that intrinsically includes outliers

I will discuss a common fallacy concerning the conclusions drawn from calculating a sample mean and a sample standard deviation and more importantly how to avoid it.

Suppose you draw a random sample x_1, x_2, … x_N of size N and compute the ordinary (arithmetic) sample mean  x_m and a sample standard deviation sd from it.  Now if (and only if) the (true) population mean µ (first moment) and population variance (second moment) obtained from the actual underlying PDF  are finite, the numbers x_m and sd make the usual sense otherwise they are misleading as will be shown by an example.

By the way: The common correlation coefficient will also be undefined (or in practice always point to zero) in the presence of infinite population variances. Hopefully I will create an article discussing this related fallacy in the near future where a suitable generalization to Lévy-stable variables will be proposed.

 Drawing a random sample from a heavy tailed distribution and discussing certain measures

As an example suppose you have a one dimensional random walker whose step length is distributed by a symmetric standard Cauchy distribution (Lorentz-profile) with heavy tails, i.e. an alpha-stable distribution with alpha being equal to one. The PDF of an individual independent step is given by p(x) = \frac{\pi^{-1}}{(1 + x^2)} , thus neither the first nor the second moment exist whereby the first exists and vanishes at least in the sense of a principal value due to symmetry.

Still let us generate N = 3000 (pseudo) standard Cauchy random numbers in R* to analyze the behavior of their sample mean and standard deviation sd as a function of the reduced sample size n \leq N.

*The R-code is shown at the end of the article.

Here are the piecewise sample mean (in blue) and standard deviation (in red) for the mentioned Cauchy sampling. We see that both the sample mean and sd include jumps and do not converge.

Especially the mean deviates relatively largely from zero even after 3000 observations. The sample sd has no target due to the population variance being infinite.

If the data is new and no prior distribution is known, computing the sample mean and sd will be misleading. Astonishingly enough the sample mean itself will have the (formally exact) same distribution as the single step length p(x). This means that the sample mean is also standard Cauchy distributed implying that with a different Cauchy sample one could have easily observed different sample means far of the presented values in blue.

What sense does it make to present the usual interval x_m \pm sd / \sqrt{N} in such a case? What to do?

The sample median, median absolute difference (mad) and Inter-Quantile-Range (IQR) are more appropriate to describe such a data set including outliers intrinsically. To make this plausible I present the following plot, whereby the median is shown in black, the mad in green and the IQR in orange.

This example shows that the median, mad and IQR converge quickly against their assumed values and contain no major jumps. These quantities do an obviously better job in describing the sample. Even in the presence of outliers they remain robust, whereby the mad converges more quickly than the IQR. Note that a standard Cauchy sample will contain half of its sample in the interval median \pm mad meaning that the IQR is twice the mad.

Drawing a random sample from a PDF that has finite moments

Just for comparison I also show the above quantities for a standard normal (pseudo) sample labeled with the same color as before as a counter example. In this case not only do both the sample mean and median but also the sd and mad converge towards their expected values (see plot below). Here all the quantities describe the data set properly and there is no trap since there are no intrinsic outliers. The sample mean itself follows a standard normal, so that the sd in deed makes sense and one could calculate a standard error \frac{sd}{\sqrt{N}} from it to present the usual stochastic confidence intervals for the sample mean.

A careful observation shows that in contrast to the Cauchy case here the sampled mean and sd converge more quickly than the sample median and the IQR. However still the sampled mad performs about as well as the sd. Again the mad is twice the IQR.

And here are the graphs of the prementioned quantities for a pseudo normal sample:

The take-home-message:

Just be careful when you observe outliers and calculate sample quantities right away, you might miss something. At best one carefully observes how the relevant quantities change with sample size as demonstrated in this article.

Such curves should become of broader interest in order to improve transparency in the Data Science process and reduce fallacies as well.

Thank you for reading.

P.S.: Feel free to play with the set random seed in the R-code below and observe how other quantities behave with rising sample size. Of course you can also try different PDFs at the beginning of the code. You can employ a Cauchy, Gaussian, uniform, exponential or Holtsmark (pseudo) random sample.


QUIZ: Which one of the recently mentioned random samples contains a trap** and why?

**in the context of this article


R-code used to generate the data and for producing plots:



Cross-industry standard process for data mining

Introduced in 1996, the cross-industry standard process for data mining (CRISP-DM) became the most
common procedure for all data mining projects. This method consists of six phases: Business
understanding, Data understanding, Data preparation, Modeling, Evaluation and Deployment (see
Figure 1). It is being used not just as a reference manual but as a user guide as it explains every phase
in detail (Hipp, 2000). The six phases of this model are explained below:

Figure 1: Different phases of CRISP-DM

Business Understanding

It includes understanding the business problem and determining the
objective of the business as well as of the project. It is also important to understand the previous work
done on the project (if any) to achieve the business goals and to examine if the scope of the project has changed.

The job of a Data Scientist is not limited to coding or just make a machine learning model and I guess that’s why this whole lifecycle was developed.  The key points a project owner should take care in this process are:

– Identify stakeholders  and involve them to define the scope your project
– Describe your product (your machine learning model)
– Identify how your product ties into the client’s business processes
– Identify metrics / KPIs for measuring success

Evaluating a model is a different thing as it can only tell you how good are your predictions but identifying the success metric is really important for any data science project because when your model is deployed in production this measure will tell you if your model actually works or not. Now, let’s discuss what is this success metric
Consider that you are working in an e-commerce company where Head of finance ask you to create a machine learning model to predict if a specific product will return or not. The problem is not hard to understand, its a binary classification problem and you know you can do the job. But before you start working with the data you should define a metric to measure the success. What do you think your success metric could be? I would go with the return rate, in other words, calculate the rate for how many orders are actually coming back and if this measure is getting decrease you would know your model works and if not then FIX IT !!

Data understanding

The initial step in this phase is to gather all the data from different sources. It is
then important to describe the data, generate graphs for distribution in order to get familiar with the
data. This phase is important as without enough data or without understanding about the data analysis
cannot be performed. In data mining terms this can be compared to Exploratory data analysis (EDA)
where techniques from descriptive statistics are used to have an insight into the data. For instance, if it is
a time series data it makes sense to know from when until when the data is available before diving deep into
the data.

Data preparation

This phase takes most of the time in data mining project as a lot of methods from
data cleaning, feature subset, feature engineering, the transformation of data etc. are used before the final
dataset is trained for modeling purpose. The single dataset can also be prepared in different forms as some
algorithms can learn more with a certain type of data, some algorithms can deal with imbalance dataset
and for some algorithms, the target variable must be balanced. This phase also requires sometimes to
calculate new KPI’s according to the business need or sometimes to reduce the dimension of the dataset.

Modeling and Evaluation

Various models are selected and build in this process and appropriate hyperparameters are
selected after an intensive grid search.  Once all the models are built it is now time to evaluate and compare performances of all the models.


A model is of no use if it is not deployed into production. Until now you have been doing the job of a data scientist but for deployment, you need some software engineering

skills. There are several ways to deploy a machine learning model or python code. Few of them are:

  • Re-implement your python code in C++, Java etc. (LOL)
  • Save the coefficients and use them to get predictions
  • Serialized objects (REST API with flask, Django)

To understand the concept of deploying an ML model using REST API this post is highly recommended.

Training eines Neurons mit dem Gradientenverfahren

Dies ist Artikel 3 von 6 der Artikelserie –Einstieg in Deep Learning.

Das Training von neuronalen Netzen erfolgt nach der Forward-Propagation über zwei Schritte:

  1. Fehler-Rückführung über aller aktiver Neuronen aller Netz-Schichten, so dass jedes Neuron “seinen” Einfluss auf den Ausgabefehler kennt.
  2. Anpassung der Gewichte entgegen den Gradienten der Fehlerfunktion

Beide Schritte werden in der Regel zusammen als Backpropagation bezeichnet. Machen wir erstmal einen Schritt vor und betrachten wir, wie ein Neuron seine Gewichtsverbindungen zu seinen Vorgängern anpasst.


Der Gradientenabstieg ist ein generalisierbarer Algorithmus zur Optimierung, der in vielen Verfahren des maschinellen Lernens zur Anwendung kommt, jedoch ganz besonders als sogenannte Backpropagation im Deep Learning den Erfolg der künstlichen neuronalen Netze erst möglich machen konnte.

Der Gradientenabstieg lässt sich vom Prinzip her leicht erklären: Angenommen, man stünde im Gebirge im dichten Nebel. Das Tal, und somit der Weg nach Hause, ist vom Nebel verdeckt. Wohin laufen wir? Wir können das Ziel zwar nicht sehen, tasten uns jedoch so heran, dass unser Gehirn den Gradienten (den Unterschied der Höhen beider Füße) berechnet, somit die Steigung des Bodens kennt und sich entgegen dieser Steigung unser Weg fortsetzt.

Konkret funktioniert der Gradientenabstieg so: Wir starten bei einem zufälligen Theta \theta (Random Initialization). Wir berechnen die Ausgabe (Forwardpropogation) und vergleichen sie über eine Verlustfunktion (z. B. über die Funktion Mean Squared Error) mit dem tatsächlich korrekten Wert. Auf Grund der zufälligen Initialisierung haben wir eine nahe zu garantierte Falschheit der Ergebnisse und somit einen Verlust. Für die Verlustfunktion berechnen wir den Gradienten für gegebene Eingabewerte. Voraussetzung dafür ist, dass die Funktion ableitbar ist. Wir bewegen uns entgegen des Gradienten in Richtung Minimum der Verlustfunktion. Ist dieses Minimum (fast) gefunden, spricht man auch davon, dass der Lernalgorithmus konvergiert.

Das Gradientenabstiegsverfahren ist eine Möglichkeit der Gradientenverfahren, denn wollten wir maximieren, würden wir uns entlang des Gradienten bewegen, was in anderen Anwendungen sinnvoll ist.

Ob als “Cost Function” oder als “Loss Function” bezeichnet, in jedem Fall ist es eine “Error Function”, aber auf die Benennung kommen wir später zu sprechen. Jedenfalls versuchen wir die Fehlerrate zu senken! Leider sind diese Funktionen in der Praxis selten so einfach konvex (zwei Berge mit einem Tal dazwischen).


Aber Achtung: Denn befinden wir uns nur zwischen zwei Bergen, finden wir das Tal mit Sicherheit über den Gradienten. Befinden wir uns jedoch in einem richtigen Gebirge mit vielen Bergen und Tälern, gilt es, das richtige Tal zu finden. Bei der Optimierung der Gewichtungen von künstlichen neuronalen Netzen wollen wir die besten Gewichtungen finden, die uns zu den geringsten Ausgaben der Verlustfunktion führen. Wir suchen also das globale Minimum unter den vielen (lokalen) Minima.

Programmier-Beispiel in Python

Nachfolgend ein Beispiel des Gradientenverfahrens zur Berechnung einer Regression. Wir importieren numpy und matplotlib.pyplot und erzeugen uns künstliche Datenpunkte:

Nun wollen wir einen Lernalgorithmus über das Gradientenverfahren erstellen. Im Grunde haben wir hier es bereits mit einem linear aktivierten Neuron zutun:

Bei der linearen Regression, die wir durchführen wollen, nehmen wir zwei-dimensionale Daten (wobei wir die Regression prinzipiell auch mit x-Dimensionen durchführen können, dann hätte unser Neuron weitere Eingänge). Wir empfangen einen Bias (w_0) der stets mit einer Eingangskonstante multipliziert und somit als Wert erhalten bleibt. Der Bias ist das Alpha \alpha in einer Schulmathe-tauglichen Formel wie y = \beta \cdot x + \alpha.

Beta \beta ist die Steigung, der Gradient, der Funktion.

Sowohl \alpha als auch \beta sind uns unbekannt, versuchen wir jedoch über die Betrachtung unserer Prädiktion durch Berechnung der Formel \^y = \beta \cdot x + \alpha und den darauffolgenden Abgleich mit dem tatsächlichen y herauszufinden. Anfangs behaupten wir beispielsweise einfach, sowohl \beta als auch \alpha seien 0.00. Folglich wird \^y = \beta \cdot x + \alpha ebenfalls gleich 0.00 sein und die Fehlerfunktion (Loss Function) wird maximal sein. Dies war der erste Durchlauf des Trainings, die sogenannte erste Epoche!

Die Epochen (Durchläufe) und dazugehörige Fehlergrößen. Wenn die Fehler sinken und mit weiteren Epochen nicht mehr wesentlich besser werden, heißt es, das der Lernalogorithmus konvergiert.

Als Fehlerfunktion verwenden wir bei der Regression die MSE-Funktion (Mean Squared Error):

MSE = \sum(\^y_i - y_i)^2

Um diese Funktion wird sich nun alles drehen, denn diese beschreibt den Fehler und gibt uns auch die Auskunft darüber, ob wie stark und in welche Richtung sie ansteigt, so dass wir uns entgegen der Steigung bewegen können. Wer die Regeln der Ableitung im Kopf hat, weiß, dass die Ableitung der Formel leichter wird, wenn wir sie vorher auf halbe Werte runterskalieren. Da die Proportionen dabei erhalten bleiben und uns quadrierte Fehlerwerte unserem menschlichen Verstand sowieso nicht so viel sagen (unser Gehirn denkt nunmal nicht exponential), stört das nicht:

MSE = \frac{\frac{1}{2} \cdot \sum(\^y_i - y_i)^2}{n}

MSE = \frac{\frac{1}{2} \cdot \sum(w^T \cdot x_i - y_i)^2}{n}

Wenn die Mathematik der partiellen Ableitung (Ableitung einer Funktion nach jedem Gradienten) abhanden gekommen ist, bitte nochmal folgende Regeln nachschlagen, um die nachfolgende Ableitung verstehen zu können:

  • Allgemeine partielle Ableitung
  • Kettenregel

Ableitung der MSD-Funktion nach dem einen Gewicht w bzw. partiell nach jedem vorhandenen w_j:

\frac{\partial}{\partial w_j}MSE = \frac{\partial}{\partial w} \frac{1}{2} \cdot \sum(\^y - y_i)^2

\frac{\partial}{\partial w_j}MSE = \frac{\partial}{\partial w} \frac{1}{2} \cdot \sum(w^T \cdot x_i - y_i)^2

\frac{\partial}{\partial w_j}MSE = \frac{2}{n} \cdot \sum(w^T \cdot x_i - y_i) \cdot x_{ij}

Woher wir das x_{ij} am Ende her haben? Das ergibt sie aus der Kettenregel: Die äußere Funktion wurde abgeleitet, so wurde aus \frac{1}{2} \cdot \sum(w^T \cdot x_i - y_i)^2 dann \frac{2}{n} \cdot \sum(w^T \cdot x_i - y_i). Jedoch muss im Sinne eben dieser Kettenregel auch die innere Funktion abgeleitet werden. Da wir nach w_j ableiten, bleibt nur x_ij erhalten.

Damit können wir arbeiten! So kompliziert ist die Formel nun auch wieder nicht: \frac{2}{n} \cdot \sum(w^T \cdot x_i - y_i) \cdot x_{ij}

Mit dieser Formel können wir unsere Gewichte an den Fehler anpassen: (f\nabla ist der Gradient der Funktion!)

w_j = w_j - \nabla MSE(w_j)

Initialisieren der Gewichtungen

Die Gewichtungen \alpha und \beta müssen anfänglich mit Werten initialisiert werden. In der Regression bietet es sich an, die Gewichte anfänglich mit 0.00 zu initialisieren.

Bei vielen neuronalen Netzen, mit nicht-linearen Aktivierungsfunktionen, ist das jedoch eher ungünstig und zufällige Werte sind initial besser. Gut erprobt sind normal-verteilte Zufallswerte.


Nur eine Kleinigkeit haben wir bisher vergessen: Wir brauchen einen Faktor, mit dem wir anpassen. Hier wäre der Faktor 1. Das ist in der Regel viel zu groß. Dieser Faktor wird geläufig als Lernrate (Learning Rate) \eta (eta) bezeichnet:

w_j = w_j - \eta \cdot \nabla MSE(w_j)

Die Lernrate \eta ist ein Knackpunkt und der erste Parameter des Lernalgorithmus, den es anzupassen gilt, wenn das Training nicht konvergiert.

Die Lernrate \eta darf nicht zu groß klein gewählt werden, da das Training sonst zu viele Epochen benötigt. Ungeduldige erhöhen die Lernrate möglicherweise aber so sehr, dass der Lernalgorithmus im Minimum der Fehlerfunktion vorbeiläuft und diesen stets überspringt. Hier würde der Algorithmus also sozusagen konvergieren, weil nicht mehr besser werden, aber das resultierende Modell wäre weit vom Optimum entfernt.

Beginnen wir mit der Implementierung als Python-Klasse:

Die Klasse sollte so funktionieren, bevor wir sie verwenden, sollten wir die Input-Werte standardisieren:

Bei diesem Beispiel mit künstlich erzeugten Werten ist das Standardisieren bzw. das Fehlen des Standardisierens zwar nicht kritisch, aber man sollte es sich zur Gewohnheit machen. Testweise es einfach mal weglassen 🙂

Kommen wir nun zum Einsatz der Klasse, die die Regression via Gradientenabstieg absolvieren soll:

Was tut diese Instanz der Klasse LinearRegressionGD nun eigentlich?

Bildlich gesprochen, legt sie eine Gerade auf den Boden des Koordinatensystems, denn die Gewichtungen werden mit 0.00 initialisiert, y ist also gleich 0.00, egal welche Werte in x enthalten sind. Der Fehler ist dann aber sehr groß (sollte maximal sein, im Vergleich zu zukünftigen Epochen). Die Gewichte werden also angepasst, die Gerade somit besser in die Punktwolke platziert. Mit jeder Epoche wird die Gerade erneut in die Punktwolke gelegt, der Gesamtfehler (über alle x, da wir es hier mit dem Batch-Verfahren zutun haben) berechnet, die Werte angepasst… bis die vorgegebene Zahl an Epochen abgelaufen ist.

Schauen wir uns das Ergebnis des Trainings an:

Die Linie sieht passend aus, oder? Da wir hier nicht zu sehr in die Theorie der Regressionsanalyse abdriften möchten, lassen wir das testen und prüfen der Akkuratesse mal aus, hier möchte ich auf meinen Artikel Regressionsanalyse in Python mit Scikit-Learn verweisen.

Prüfen sollten wir hingegen mal, wie schnell der Lernalgorithmus mit der vorgegebenen Lernrate eta konvergiert:

Hier die Verlaufskurve der Cost Function:

Die Kurve zeigt uns, dass spätestens nach 40 Epochen kaum noch Verbesserung (im Sinne der Gesamtfehler-Minimierung) erreicht wird.

Wichtige Hinweise

Natürlich war das nun nur ein erster kleiner Einstieg und wer es verstanden hat, hat viel gewonnen. Denn erst dann kann man sich vorstellen, wie ein einzelnen Neuron eines künstlichen neuronalen Netzes grundsätzlich trainiert werden kann.

Folgendes sollte noch beachtet werden:

  • Lernrate \eta:
    Die Lernrate ist ein wichtiger Parameter. Wer das Programmier-Beispiel bei sich zum Laufen gebracht hat, einfach mal die Lernrate auf Werte zwischen 10.00 und 0.00000001 setzen, schauen was passiert 🙂
  • Globale Minima vs lokale Minima:
    Diese lineare zwei-dimensionale Regression ist ziemlich einfach. Neuronale Netze sind hingegen komplexer und haben nicht einfach nur eine simple konvexe Fehlerfunktion. Hier gibt es mehrere Hügel und Täler in der Fehlerfunktion und die Gefahr ist groß, in einem lokalen, nicht aber in einem globalen Minimum zu landen.
  • Stochastisches Gradientenverfahren:
    Wir haben hier das sogenannte Batch-Verfahren verwendet. Dieses ist grundsätzlich besser als die stochastische Methode. Denn beim Batch verwenden wir den gesamten Stapel an x-Werten für die Fehlerbestimmung. Allerdings ist dies bei großen Daten zu rechen- und speicherintensiv. Dann werden kleinere Unter-Stapel (Sub-Batches) zufällig aus den x-Werten ausgewählt, der Fehler daraus bestimmt (was nicht ganz so akkurat ist, wie als würden wir den Fehler über alle x berechnen) und der Gradient bestimmt. Dies ist schon Rechen- und Speicherkapazität, erfordert aber meistens mehr Epochen.


Die folgenden zwei Bücher haben mir bei der Erstellung dieses Beispiels geholfen und kann ich als hilfreiche und deutlich weiterführende Lektüre empfehlen:


Machine Learning mit Python und Scikit-Learn und TensorFlow: Das umfassende Praxis-Handbuch für Data Science, Predictive Analytics und Deep Learning (mitp Professional) Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow: Concepts, Tools, and Techniques for Building Intelligent Systems


Fuzzy Matching mit dem Jaro-Winkler-Score zur Auswertung von Markenbekanntheit und Werbeerinnerung

Für Unternehmen sind Markenbekanntheit und Werbeerinnerung wichtige Zielgrößen, denn anhand dieser lässt sich ableiten, ob Konsumenten ein Produkt einer Marke kaufen werden oder nicht. Zielgrößen wie diese werden von Marktforschungsinstituten über Befragungen ermittelt. Dafür wird in regelmäßigen Zeitabständen eine gleichbleibende Anzahl an Personen befragt, ob diese sich an Marken einer bestimmten Branche erinnern oder sich an Werbung erinnern. Die Personen füllen dafür in der Regel einen Onlinefragebogen aus.

Die Ergebnisse der Befragung liegen in einer Datenmatrix (siehe Tabelle) vor und müssen zur Auswertung zunächst bearbeitet werden.

Laufende Nummer Marke 1 Marke 2 Marke 3 Marke 4
1 ING-Diba Citigroup Sparkasse
2 Sparkasse Consorsbank
3 Commerbank Deutsche Bank Sparkasse ING-DiBa
4 Sparkasse Targobank

Ziel ist es aus diesen Daten folgende 0/1 codierte Matrix zu generieren. Wenn eine Marke bekannt ist, wird in die zur Marke gehörende Spalte eine Eins eingetragen, ansonsten eine Null.

Alle Marken ING-Diba Citigroup Sparkasse Targobank
ING-Diba, Citigroup, Sparkasse 1 1 1 0
Sparkasse, Consorsbank 0 0 1 0
Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Sparkasse, ING-Diba 1 0 0 0
Sparkasse, Targobank 0 0 1 1

Der Workflow um diese Datentransformation durchzuführen ist oftmals mittels eines Teilstrings einer Marke zu suchen ob diese in einem über alle Nennungen hinweg zusammengeführten String vorkommt oder nicht (z.B. „argo“ bei Targobank). Das Problem dieser Herangehensweise ist, dass viele falsch geschriebenen Wörter so nicht erfasst werden und die Erfahrung zeigt, dass falsch geschriebene Marken in vielfältigster Weise auftreten. Hier mussten in der Vergangenheit Mitarbeiter sich in stundenlangem Kampf durch die Ergebnisse wühlen und falsch zugeordnete oder nicht zugeordnete Marken händisch korrigieren und alle Variationen der Wörter notieren, um für die nächste Befragung das Suchpattern zu optimieren.

Eine Alternative diesen aufwändigen Workflow stellt die Ermittlung von falsch geschriebenen Wörtern mittels des Jaro-Winkler-Scores dar. Dafür muss zunächst die Jaro-Winkler-Distanz zwischen zwei Strings berechnet werden. Diese berechnet sich wie folgt:

d_j = \frac{1}{3}(\frac{m}{|s_1|}+\frac{m}{|s_2|}+\frac{m - t}{m})

  • m: Anzahl der übereinstimmenden Buchstaben
  • s: Länge des Strings
  • t: Hälfte der Anzahl der Umstellungen der Buchstaben die nötig sind, damit Strings identisch sind. („Ta“ und „gobank“ befinden sich bereits in der korrekten Reihenfolge, somit gilt: t = 0)

Aus dem Ergebnis lässt sich der Jaro-Winkler Score berechnen:
d_w = \d_j + (l_p (1 - d_j))
ist dabei die Jaro-Winkler-Distanz, l die Länge der übereinstimmenden Buchstaben von Beginn des Wortes bis zum maximal vierten Buchstaben und p ein konstanter Faktor von 0,1.

Für die Strings „Targobank“ und „Tangobank“ ergibt sich die Jaro-Winkler-Distanz:

d_j = \frac{1}{3}(\frac{8}{9}+\frac{8}{9}+\frac{8 - 0}{9})

Daraus wird im nächsten Schritt der Jaro-Winkler Score berechnet:

d_w = 0,9259 + (2 \cdot 0,1 (1 - 0,9259)) = 0,9407407

Bisherige Erfahrungen haben gezeigt, dass sich Scores ab 0,8 bzw. 0,9 am besten zur Suche von ähnlichen Wörtern eignen. Ein Schwellenwert darunter findet sehr viele Wörter, die sich z.B. auch anderen Wörtern zuordnen lassen. Ein Schwellenwert über 0,9 identifiziert falsch geschriebene Wörter oftmals nicht mehr.

Nach diesem theoretischen Exkurs möchte ich nun zeigen, wie sich das Ganze praktisch anwenden lässt. Da sich das Ganze um ein fiktives Beispiel handelt, werden zur Demonstration der Praxistauglichkeit Fakedaten mit folgendem Code erzeugt. Dabei wird angenommen, dass Personen unterschiedlich viele Banken kennen und diese mit einer bestimmten Wahrscheinlichkeit falsch schreiben.


Nun werden die Inhalte der Spalten in eine einzige Spalte zusammengefasst und jede Marke per Komma getrennt.

Damit Sonderzeichen, Leerzeichen oder Groß- und Kleinschreibung keine Rolle spielen, werden alle Strings vereinheitlicht und störende Zeichen entfernt.

Im nächsten Schritt wird geprüft welche Schreibweisen überhaupt existieren. Dafür eignet sich eine Word-Frequency-Matrix, mit der alle einzigartigen Wörter und deren Häufigkeiten in einem Vektor gezählt wird.

Danach wird eine leere Liste erstellt, in der iterativ für jedes Element des Suchvektors ein Charactervektor erzeugt wird, der Wörter enthält, die einen Jaro-Winker Score von 0,9 oder höher besitzen.

Jetzt wird ein leerer DataFrame erzeugt, der die Zeilenlänge des originalen DataFrames besitzt sowie die Anzahl der Marken als Spaltenlänge.

Im nächsten Schritt wird nun aus den ähnlichen Wörtern mit einer oder-Verknüpfung einen String erzeugt, der alle durch den Jaro-Winkler-Score identifizierten Wörter beinhaltet. Wenn ein Treffer gefunden wird, wird in der Suchspalte eine Eins eingetragen, ansonsten eine Null.

Zuletzt wird eine Spalte erzeugt, in die eine Eins geschrieben wird, wenn keine der Marken gefunden wurde.

Nach der fertigen Berechnung der Matrix können nun die finalen KPI´s berechnet und als Report in eine .xlsx Datei geschrieben werden.

Dieses Vorgehen kann natürlich nicht verhindern, dass sich jemand mit kritischem Auge die Daten anschauen muss. In mehreren Tests ergaben sich bei einer Fallzahl von ~10.000 Antworten Genauigkeiten zwischen 95% und 100%, was bisherige Ansätze um ein Vielfaches übertrifft.9407407

Big Data has reduced the boundary between demand-centric dynamic pricing and user-behavior centric pricing!

Real-time pricing is also known as Dynamic pricing, and it is a method to plan and set highly flexible prices of the services or the products. Dynamic pricing is aimed to help the online organizations modify the costs on the fly in relation to the ever changing market conditions. All sorts of modifications are managed the costing bots, who collect the information, and use the algorithms in order to regulate the costing, keeping in mind the set guidelines. With the help of data analysis, vendors can accurately forecast the best prices, and also can adjust it as per the changing needs.

What’s the role of Big Data in Dynamics pricing?

Big data strategies are made just to get the required insights which help to enhance the performance of a business. Still, companies find it difficult to understand the capabilities of analytics, and how the analytics can be used to make the process of pricing all the more powerful. Various levels of Big Data collection, and analysis result into planning a proper dynamics pricing structure. The Big Data captured by the companies hold a lot of value when it comes to devising solid, and very workable dynamics costing structures.

Each and every one of the data-oriented firms move from the basic data reporting stage via a plenty of stages to get to the utmost, desirable level of optimization that’s deemed the most sophisticated. This eventually helps to enhance the revenue management process as well.

How Big Data lessens the gap between demand-centric dynamic pricing and user-behavior centric pricing?

Big Data as we have discussed above has a major role to play when it comes to setting dynamic pricing plans. Dynamic pricing is now further categorized into different segments and two of them are demand-centric dynamic pricing and user-behavior centric pricing. Both of these hold equal importance in creating a top pricing strategy. However, one of the other important things is that, it acts as a liaison between the two as well.  It bridges the gap between the two. When it comes to demand centric costing, it is referred to as what the customer needs, and what the customer is looking for. Whereas, when it comes to user behavior pricing, it is more related to what we should be offering to the customer as per the interest levels of the customers.

Now, both of these parameters hold equal importance when it comes to making costing strategies that are fruitful. To set proper ‘demand centric pricing’ it is importance to know about the demand as well as the wants of the target audience. And, when it comes to user-behavior centric pricing, we need to know how the user is feeling, and what interest areas are. This where the role of Big Data analytics come into play.

Big Data analytics of relative information helps to find out both, the demands and well as the user behaviors. Big Data analytics done to study the target audience are a best way to get to the answers. Once we know about the demands and the user behavior we have to combine both of these to churn our better pricing strategies.

The costing plans should be taken into consideration by mapping both of these elements together. For example, even whenever we curate marketing strategies, they are basically catering to the demands of the public. But, at the same time, user-behavior is never neglected either. It’s a mix of both that we need for setting dynamic prices as well. The modifications which should be done in the pricing should be done based on collective insights gained by clubbing both the elements together.

By studying both the demands graphs as well as the user behavior reports, a company can devise plans that will turn out to be very useful when it comes to costing. Dynamic pricing is as it is a very fruitful invention, and the integration of Big Data has made it all the more powerful.

Big Data is one of those technologies which has made a lot possible in a lot of areas. Be it the pricing structures or the business strategies, Big Data analytics are used everywhere to improve the performance of the company.

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Sentiment Analysis of IMDB reviews


Download the Data Sources

The data sources used in this article can be downloaded here:

The Inside Out of ML Based Prescriptive Analytics

With the constantly growing number of data, more and more companies are shifting towards analytic solutions. Analytic solutions help in extracting the meaning from the huge amount of data available. Thus, improving decision making.

Decision making is an important aspect of businesses, and technologies like Machine Learning are enhancing it further. The growing use of Machine Learning has changed the way of prescriptive analytics. In order to optimize the efforts, companies need to be more accurate with the historical and present data. This is because the historical and present data are the essentials of analytics. This article helps describe the inside out of Machine Learning-based prescriptive analytics.

Phases of business analytics

Descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics are the three phases of business analytics. Descriptive analytics, being the first one, deals with past performance. Historical data is mined to understand past performance. This serves as a way to look for the reasons behind past success and failure. It is a kind of post-mortem analysis and most management reporting like sales, marketing, operations, and finance etc. make use of this.

The second one is a predictive analysis which answers the question of what is likely to happen. The historical data is now combined with rules, algorithms etc. to determine the possible future outcome or likelihood of a situation occurring.

The final phase, well known to everyone, is prescriptive analytics. It can continually take in new data and re-predict and re-prescribe. This improves the accuracy of the prediction and prescribes better decision options.  Professional services or technology or their combination can be chosen to perform all the three analytics.

More about prescriptive analytics

The analysis of business activities goes through many phases. Prescriptive analytics is one such. It is known to be the third phase of business analytics and comes after descriptive and predictive analytics. It entails the application of mathematical and computational sciences. It makes use of the results obtained from descriptive and predictive analysis to suggest decision options. It goes beyond predicting future outcomes and suggests actions to benefit from the predictions. It shows the implications of each decision option. It anticipates on what will happen when it will happen as well as why it will happen.

ML-based prescriptive analytics

Being just before the prescriptive analytics, predictive analytics is often confused with it. What actually happens is predictive analysis leads to prescriptive analysis. Thus, a Machine Learning based prescriptive analytics goes through an ML-based predictive analysis first. Therefore, it becomes necessary to consider the ML-based predictive analysis first.

ML-based predictive analytics:

A lot of things prevent businesses from achieving predictive analysis capabilities.  Machine Learning can be a great help in boosting Predictive analytics. Use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms helps businesses in optimizing and uncovering the new statistical patterns. These statistical patterns form the backbone of predictive analysis. E-commerce, marketing, customer service, medical diagnosis etc. are some of the prospective use cases for Machine Learning based predictive analytics.

In E-commerce, machine learning can help in predicting the usual choices of the customer. Thus, presenting him/her according to his/her likes and dislikes. It can also help in predicting fraudulent transaction. Similarly, B2B marketing also makes good use of Machine learning based predictive analytics. Customer services and medical diagnosis also benefit from predictive analytics. Thus, a prediction and a prescription based on machine learning can boost various business functions.

Organizations and software development companies are making more and more use of machine learning based predictive analytics. The advancements like neural networks and deep learning algorithms are able to uncover hidden information. This all requires a well-researched approach. Big data and progressive IT systems also act as important factors in this.

Language Detecting with sklearn by determining Letter Frequencies

Of course, there are better and more efficient methods to detect the language of a given text than counting its lettes. On the other hand this is a interesting little example to show the impressing ability of todays machine learning algorithms to detect hidden patterns in a given set of data.

For example take the sentence:

“Ceci est une phrase française.”

It’s not to hard to figure out that this sentence is french. But the (lowercase) letters of the same sentence in a random order look like this:


Still sure it’s french? Regarding the fact that this string contains the letter “ç” some people could have remembered long passed french lessons back in school and though might have guessed right. But beside the fact that the french letter “ç” is also present for example in portuguese, turkish, catalan and a few other languages, this is still a easy example just to explain the problem. Just try to guess which language might have generated this:


While this looks simply confusing to the human eye and it seems practically impossible to determine the language it was generated from, this string still contains as set of hidden but well defined patterns from which the language could be predictet with almost complete (ca. 98-99%) certainty.

First of all, we need a set of texts in the languages our model should be able to recognise. Luckily with the package NLTK there comes a big set of example texts which actually are protocolls of the european parliament and therefor are publicly availible in 11 differen languages:

  •  Danish
  •  Dutch
  •  English
  •  Finnish
  •  French
  •  German
  •  Greek
  •  Italian
  •  Portuguese
  •  Spanish
  •  Swedish

Because the greek version is not written with the latin alphabet, the detection of the language greek would just be too simple, so we stay with the other 10 languages availible. To give you a idea of the used texts, here is a little sample:

“Resumption of the session I declare resumed the session of the European Parliament adjourned on Friday 17 December 1999, and I would like once again to wish you a happy new year in the hope that you enjoyed a pleasant festive period.
Although, as you will have seen, the dreaded ‘millennium bug’ failed to materialise, still the people in a number of countries suffered a series of natural disasters that truly were dreadful.”

Train and Test

The following code imports the nessesary modules and reads the sample texts from a set of text files into a pandas.Dataframe object and prints some statistics about the read texts:

Above you see a sample set of random rows of the created Dataframe. After removing very short text snipplets (less than 200 chars) we are left with 56481 snipplets. The function clean_eutextdf() then creates a lower case representation of the texts in the coloum ‘ltext’ to facilitate counting the chars in the next step.
The following code snipplet now extracs the features – in this case the relative frequency of each letter in every text snipplet – that are used for prediction:

Now that we have calculated the features for every text snipplet in our dataset, we can split our data set in a train and test set:

After doing that, we can train a k-nearest-neigbours classifier and test it to get the percentage of correctly predicted languages in the test data set. Because we do not know what value for k may be the best choice, we just run the training and testing with different values for k in a for loop:

As you can see in the output the reliability of the language classifier is generally very high: It starts at about 97.5% for k = 1, increases for with increasing values of k until it reaches a maximum level of about 98.5% at k ≈ 10.

Using the Classifier to predict languages of texts

Now that we have trained and tested the classifier we want to use it to predict the language of example texts. To do that we need two more functions, shown in the following piece of code. The first one extracts the nessesary features from the sample text and predict_lang() predicts the language of a the texts:

With this classifier it is now also possible to predict the language of the randomized example snipplet from the introduction (which is acutally created from the first paragraph of this article):

The KNN classifier of sklearn also offers the possibility to predict the propability with which a given classification is made. While the probability distribution for a specific language is relativly clear for long sample texts it decreases noticeably the shorter the texts are.

Background and Insights

Why does a relative simple model like counting letters acutally work? Every language has a specific pattern of letter frequencies which can be used as a kind of fingerprint: While there are almost no y‘s in the german language this letter is quite common in english. In french the letter k is not very common because it is replaced with q in most cases.

For a better understanding look at the output of the following code snipplet where only three letters already lead to a noticable form of clustering:


Even though every single letter frequency by itself is not a very reliable indicator, the set of frequencies of all present letters in a text is a quite good evidence because it will more or less represent the letter frequency fingerprint of the given language. Since it is quite hard to imagine or visualize the above plot in more than three dimensions, I used a little trick which shows that every language has its own typical fingerprint of letter frequencies:

What more?

Beside the fact, that letter frequencies alone, allow us to predict the language of every example text (at least in the 10 languages with latin alphabet we trained for) with almost complete certancy there is even more information hidden in the set of sample texts.

As you might know, most languages in europe belong to either the romanian or the indogermanic language family (which is actually because the romans conquered only half of europe). The border between them could be located in belgium, between france and germany and in swiss. West of this border the romanian languages, which originate from latin, are still spoken, like spanish, portouguese and french. In the middle and northern part of europe the indogermanic languages are very common like german, dutch, swedish ect. If we plot the analysed languages with a different colour sheme this border gets quite clear and allows us to take a look back in history that tells us where our languages originate from:

As you can see the more common letters, especially the vocals like a, e, i, o and u have almost the same frequency in all of this languages. Far more interesting are letters like q, k, c and w: While k is quite common in all of the indogermanic languages it is quite rare in romanic languages because the same sound is written with the letters q or c.
As a result it could be said, that even “boring” sets of data (just give it a try and read all the texts of the protocolls of the EU parliament…) could contain quite interesting patterns which – in this case – allows us to predict quite precisely which language a given text sample is written in, without the need of any translation program or to speak the languages. And as an interesting side effect, where certain things in history happend (or not happend): After two thousand years have passed, modern machine learning techniques could easily uncover this history because even though all these different languages developed, they still have a set of hidden but common patterns that since than stayed the same.

Sentiment Analysis using Python

One of the applications of text mining is sentiment analysis. Most of the data is getting generated in textual format and in the past few years, people are talking more about NLP. Improvement is a continuous process and many product based companies leverage these text mining techniques to examine the sentiments of the customers to find about what they can improve in the product. This information also helps them to understand the trend and demand of the end user which results in Customer satisfaction.

As text mining is a vast concept, the article is divided into two subchapters. The main focus of this article will be calculating two scores: sentiment polarity and subjectivity using python. The range of polarity is from -1 to 1(negative to positive) and will tell us if the text contains positive or negative feedback. Most companies prefer to stop their analysis here but in our second article, we will try to extend our analysis by creating some labels out of these scores. Finally, a multi-label multi-class classifier can be trained to predict future reviews.

Without any delay let’s deep dive into the code and mine some knowledge from textual data.

There are a few NLP libraries existing in Python such as Spacy, NLTK, gensim, TextBlob, etc. For this particular article, we will be using NLTK for pre-processing and TextBlob to calculate sentiment polarity and subjectivity.

The dataset is available here for download and we will be using pandas read_csv function to import the dataset. I would like to share an additional information here which I came to know about recently. Those who have already used python and pandas before they probably know that read_csv is by far one of the most used function. However, it can take a while to upload a big file. Some folks from  RISELab at UC Berkeley created Modin or Pandas on Ray which is a library that speeds up this process by changing a single line of code.

After importing the dataset it is recommended to understand it first and study the structure of the dataset. At this point we are interested to know how many columns are there and what are these columns so I am going to check the shape of the data frame and go through each column name to see if we need them or not.


There are so many columns which are not useful for our sentiment analysis and it’s better to remove these columns. There are many ways to do that: either just select the columns which you want to keep or select the columns you want to remove and then use the drop function to remove it from the data frame. I prefer the second option as it allows me to look at each column one more time so I don’t miss any important variable for the analysis.

Now let’s dive deep into the data and try to mine some knowledge from the remaining columns. The first step we would want to follow here is just to look at the distribution of the variables and try to make some notes. First, let’s look at the distribution of the ratings.

Graphs are powerful and at this point, just by looking at the above bar graph we can conclude that most people are somehow satisfied with the products offered at Amazon. The reason I am saying ‘at’ Amazon is because it is just a platform where anyone can sell their products and the user are giving ratings to the product and not to Amazon. However, if the user is satisfied with the products it also means that Amazon has a lower return rate and lower fraud case (from seller side). The job of a Data Scientist relies not only on how good a model is but also on how useful it is for the business and that’s why these business insights are really important.

Data pre-processing for textual variables


Before we move forward to calculate the sentiment scores for each review it is important to pre-process the textual data. Lowercasing helps in the process of normalization which is an important step to keep the words in a uniform manner (Welbers, et al., 2017, pp. 245-265).

Special characters

Special characters are non-alphabetic and non-numeric values such as {!,@#$%^ *()~;:/<>\|+_-[]?}. Dealing with numbers is straightforward but special characters can be sometimes tricky. During tokenization, special characters create their own tokens and again not helpful for any algorithm, likewise, numbers.


Stop-words being most commonly used in the English language; however, these words have no predictive power in reality. Words such as I, me, myself, he, she, they, our, mine, you, yours etc.


Stemming algorithm is very useful in the field of text mining and helps to gain relevant information as it reduces all words with the same roots to a common form by removing suffixes such as -action, ing, -es and -ses. However, there can be problematic where there are spelling errors.

This step is extremely useful for pre-processing textual data but it also depends on your goal. Here our goal is to calculate sentiment scores and if you look closely to the above code words like ‘inexpensive’ and ‘thrilled’ became ‘inexpens’ and ‘thrill’ after applying this technique. This will help us in text classification to deal with the curse of dimensionality but to calculate the sentiment score this process is not useful.

Sentiment Score

It is now time to calculate sentiment scores of each review and check how these scores look like.

As it can be observed there are two scores: the first score is sentiment polarity which tells if the sentiment is positive or negative and the second score is subjectivity score to tell how subjective is the text. The whole code is available here.

In my next article, we will extend this analysis by creating labels based on these scores and finally we will train a classification model.