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Brian Rowe's Blog (14)

A primer on universal function approximation with deep learning (in Torch and R)

Arthur C. Clarke famously stated that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” No current technology embodies this statement more than neural networks and deep learning. And like any good magic it not only dazzles and inspires but also puts fear into people’s hearts. This primer sheds some light on how neural networks work, hopefully adding to the wonder while reducing the fear.

One known property of artificial neural networks (ANNs) is that they are…


Added by Brian Rowe on September 27, 2016 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Lead your own data science projects with the 3 Ps

There's a lot of literature on learning the technical aspect of data science: statistics, machine learning, data munging, big data. This material will serve you well when starting out or working under a lead. But what about when you are ready to spread your wings and lead a project yourself or embark on a project independently? Here you need a different sort of storytelling - the type that communicates why you are working on a project, what the value is, and what you have accomplished.…


Added by Brian Rowe on September 23, 2016 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

How to write good tests in R

Testing is an often overlooked yet critical component of any software system. In some ways this is more true of models than traditional software. The reason is that computational systems must function correctly at both the system level and the model level. This article provides some guidelines and tips to increase the certainty around the correctness of your models.

Guiding Principles

One of my mantras is that a good tool extends our ability and never gets in…


Added by Brian Rowe on July 7, 2016 at 4:30am — No Comments

Is deep learning a Markov chain in disguise?

Andrej Karpathy’s post “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks” made splashes last year. The basic premise is that you can create a recurrent neural network to learn language features character-by-character. But is the resultant model any different from a Markov chain built for the same purpose? I implemented a character-by-character Markov chain in R to find out.…


Added by Brian Rowe on February 23, 2016 at 10:30am — 4 Comments

7 Ways to Perplex a Data Scientist

On the heels of a report showing the inefficacy of government-run cyber security, it’s imperative to understand the limitations of your system and model. As that article shows, in addition to bureaucratic risk the government also needs to worry about gaming-the-bureaucracy risk! Government snafus aside, data science has…


Added by Brian Rowe on February 2, 2016 at 7:00am — No Comments

Big data in ranching and animal husbandry

Another big part of the food supply comes from ranches and farms that raise and slaughter various livestock. While ranching is sometimes bundled with agriculture, I discussed farming in Big Data in Agriculture, so we’ll focus on ranching this time around. Somewhat surprising is that big data usage in ranching appears more limited than in farming. That said, there are a number of novel uses of technology and…


Added by Brian Rowe on January 20, 2016 at 11:44am — No Comments

Big data in agriculture

The Data-Driven Weekly is kicking off 2016 by exploring how big data and analytics is powering data-driven business in different industries. First off is the world of agriculture. While data has always played a prominent role in agriculture and ranching, the explosion of cheap sensors and data storage means that every aspect of agriculture can now be measured and optimized.

Possible Futures

According to AGCO (machinery manufacturer), there are “…


Added by Brian Rowe on January 5, 2016 at 3:30pm — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly #1.7


Photo: Nathaniel Welch

It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks AI alarmism is a bit out of hand. The ITIF Luddite Award nominations include “alarmists, even including respected luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, touting an artificial intelligence…


Added by Brian Rowe on December 23, 2015 at 8:25am — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly #1.6

Right on cue, this past week heralded in an announcement of OpenAI, a new non-profit started by a number of tech luminaries to spearhead AI research that is publicly accessible. The motivation is that apparently these scions of capitalism lose faith in Adam Smith’s invisible hand…


Added by Brian Rowe on December 16, 2015 at 7:00am — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly #1.5

This week, we continue the parallel themes of deep learning and natural language processing. Last week I mentioned some papers that use deep learning for NLP. In deep learning, these tasks are modeled as a prediction problem, which is why such an extensive training set is required. I think it's important to remember this amongst the flurry of sensationalist headlines around deep learning. While I…


Added by Brian Rowe on December 9, 2015 at 7:01am — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly #1.4

With the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, sales data is on everyone's mind. But that's not the only data people are talking about. Talk of data brokers and consumer tracking is becoming more commonplace, as is a certain backlash against big data. This week, we highlight some articles touching on these subjects and round out the discussing with some coverage of natural language processing techniques.

Data Brokers

Everyone knows about online…


Added by Brian Rowe on December 1, 2015 at 1:01pm — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly #1.3

This week we explore two different themes related to data. The first is how to value big data. The second looks at approaches for quantifying individual experience within the context of gender discrimination.

Treating Big Data as an Asset

It's generally taken for granted that data is a strategic asset. Every salesperson knows this, which is why they covet their Rolodex. It's one thing to know that data is valuable, and it's another to quantify that…


Added by Brian Rowe on November 24, 2015 at 5:03pm — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly #1.2

Last week witnessed a number of exciting announcements from the big data and machine learning space. What it shows is that there are still lots of problems to solve in 1) working with/deriving insights from big data, 2) integrating insights into business processes.


Probably the biggest (data) headline was that Google open sourced TensorFlow, their graph-based…


Added by Brian Rowe on November 17, 2015 at 6:02am — No Comments

The Data-Driven Weekly

This is the initial installment of a weekly post on notable articles on the data-driven trend. Topics covered include self-service analytics, data literacy, democratization of data and analytics, and how these subjects foster insights, innovation, and operational excellence.

SaaS Metrics

Software as a service (SaaS) has changed the business game in many ways. Businesses succeed by becoming monopolies for a narrow vertical. The path to success requires…


Added by Brian Rowe on November 10, 2015 at 6:00am — No Comments


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