Dueling Data Science Surveys: KDnuggets & Rexer Go Live

What tools do we use most for data science, machine learning, or analytics? Python, R, SAS, KNIME, RapidMiner,…? How do we use them? We are about to find out as the two most popular surveys on data science tools have both just gone live. Please chip in and help us all get a better understanding of the tools of our trade.

For 18 consecutive years, Gregory Piatetsky has been asking people what software they have actually used in the past twelve months on the KDnuggets Poll. Since this poll contains just one question, it’s very quick to take and you’ll get the latest results immediately. You can take the KDnuggets poll here.

Every other year since 2007 Rexer Analytics has surveyed data science professionals, students, and academics regarding the software they use. It is a more detailed survey which also asks about goals, algorithms, challenges, and a variety of other factors. You can take the Rexer Analytics survey here (use Access Code M7UY4). Summary reports from the seven previous Rexer surveys are FREE and can be downloaded from their Data Science Survey page.

As always, as soon as the results from either survey are available, I’ll post them on this blog, then update the main results in The Popularity of Data Science Software, and finally send out an announcement on Twitter (follow me as @BobMuenchen).



Posted in Data Science, Python, R, SAS, Statistics | 3 Comments

Group-By Modeling in R Made Easy

There are several aspects of the R language that make it hard to learn, and repeating a model for groups in a data set used to be one of them. Here I briefly describe R’s built-in approach, show a much easier one, then refer you to a new approach described in the superb book, R for Data Science, by Hadley Wickham and Garrett Grolemund.

For ease of comparison, I’ll use some of the same examples in that book. The gapminder data set contains a few measurements for countries around the world every five years from 1952 through 2007.

> library("gapminder")
> gapminder

# A tibble: 1,704 × 6
 country continent year lifeExp pop gdpPercap
 <fctr> <fctr> <int> <dbl> <int> <dbl>
1 Afghanistan Asia 1952 28.801 8425333 779.4453
2 Afghanistan Asia 1957 30.332 9240934 820.8530
3 Afghanistan Asia 1962 31.997 10267083 853.1007
4 Afghanistan Asia 1967 34.020 11537966 836.1971
5 Afghanistan Asia 1972 36.088 13079460 739.9811
6 Afghanistan Asia 1977 38.438 14880372 786.1134
7 Afghanistan Asia 1982 39.854 12881816 978.0114
8 Afghanistan Asia 1987 40.822 13867957 852.3959
9 Afghanistan Asia 1992 41.674 16317921 649.3414
10 Afghanistan Asia 1997 41.763 22227415 635.3414
# ... with 1,694 more rows

Let’s create a simple regression model to predict life expectancy from year. We’ll start by looking at just New Zealand.

> library("tidyverse")
> nz <- filter(gapminder, 
+              country == "New Zealand")
> nz_model <- lm(lifeExp ~ year, data = nz)
> summary(nz_model)

lm(formula = lifeExp ~ year, data = nz)

 Min 1Q Median 3Q Max 
-1.28745 -0.63700 0.06345 0.64442 0.91192

 Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|) 
(Intercept) -307.69963 26.63039 -11.55 4.17e-07 ***
year 0.19282 0.01345 14.33 5.41e-08 ***
Signif. codes: 0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

Residual standard error: 0.8043 on 10 degrees of freedom
Multiple R-squared: 0.9536, Adjusted R-squared: 0.9489 
F-statistic: 205.4 on 1 and 10 DF, p-value: 5.407e-08

If we had just a few countries, and we wanted to simply read the output (rather than processing it further) we could write a simple function and apply it using R’s built-in by() function. Here’s what that might look like:

my_lm <- function(df) {
  summary(lm(lifeExp ~ year, data = df))
by(gapminder, gapminder$country, my_lm)
gapminder$country: Zimbabwe

lm(formula = lifeExp ~ year, data = df)

 Min 1Q Median 3Q Max 
-10.581 -4.870 -0.882 5.567 10.386 

 Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)
(Intercept) 236.79819 238.55797 0.993 0.344
year -0.09302 0.12051 -0.772 0.458

Residual standard error: 7.205 on 10 degrees of freedom
Multiple R-squared: 0.05623, Adjusted R-squared: -0.03814 
F-statistic: 0.5958 on 1 and 10 DF, p-value: 0.458

Since we have so many countries, that wasn’t very helpful. Much of the output scrolled out of sight (I’m showing only the results for the last one, Zimbabwe). But in a simpler case, that might have done just what you needed. It’s a bit more complex than how SAS or SPSS would do it since it required the creation of a function, but it’s not too difficult.

In our case, it would be much more helpful to save the output to a file for further processing. That’s when things get messy. We could use the str() function to study the structure of the output, then write another function to extract the pieces we need, then apply that function, then continue to process the result until we get what we finally end up with a useful data frame of results. Altogether, that is a lot of work! To make matters worse, what you learned from all that is unlikely to generalize to a different function. The output’s structure, parameter names, and so on, are often unique to each of R’s modeling functions.

Luckily, David Robinson made a package called broom that simplifies all that. It has three ways to “clean up” a model, each diving more deeply into its details. Let’s see what it does with our model for New Zealand.

> library("broom")
> glance(nz_model)

  r.squared adj.r.squared sigma statistic p.value df
1 0.9535846 0.9489431 0.8043472 205.4459 5.407324e-08 2

   logLik      AIC    BIC   deviance df.residual
1 -13.32064 32.64128 34.096 6.469743     10

The glance() function gives us information about the entire model, and it puts it into a data frame with just one line of output. As we head towards doing a model for each country, you can imagine this will be a very convenient format.

To get a bit more detail, we can use broom’s tidy() function to clean up the parameter-level view.

> tidy(nz_model)
        term     estimate  std.error statistic p.value
1 (Intercept) -307.699628 26.63038965 -11.55445 4.166460e-07
2 year           0.192821  0.01345258  14.33339 5.407324e-08

Now we have a data frame with two rows, one for each model parameter, but getting this result was just as simple to do as the previous example.

The greatest level of model detail is provided by broom’s augment() function. This function adds observation-level detail to the original model data:

> augment(nz_model)

 lifeExp year  .fitted   .se.fit     .resid
1 69.390 1952 68.68692 0.4367774 0.70307692
2 70.260 1957 69.65103 0.3814859 0.60897203
3 71.240 1962 70.61513 0.3306617 0.62486713
4 71.520 1967 71.57924 0.2866904 -0.05923776
5 71.890 1972 72.54334 0.2531683 -0.65334266
6 72.220 1977 73.50745 0.2346180 -1.28744755
7 73.840 1982 74.47155 0.2346180 -0.63155245
8 74.320 1987 75.43566 0.2531683 -1.11565734
9 76.330 1992 76.39976 0.2866904 -0.06976224
10 77.550 1997 77.36387 0.3306617 0.18613287
11 79.110 2002 78.32797 0.3814859 0.78202797
12 80.204 2007 79.29208 0.4367774 0.91192308

        .hat    .sigma      .cooksd .std.resid
1 0.29487179 0.8006048 0.2265612817 1.04093898
2 0.22494172 0.8159022 0.1073195744 0.85997661
3 0.16899767 0.8164883 0.0738472863 0.85220295
4 0.12703963 0.8475929 0.0004520957 -0.07882389
5 0.09906760 0.8162209 0.0402635628 -0.85575882
6 0.08508159 0.7194198 0.1302005662 -1.67338100
7 0.08508159 0.8187927 0.0313308824 -0.82087061
8 0.09906760 0.7519001 0.1174064153 -1.46130610
9 0.12703963 0.8474910 0.0006270092 -0.09282813
10 0.16899767 0.8451201 0.0065524741 0.25385073
11 0.22494172 0.7944728 0.1769818895 1.10436232
12 0.29487179 0.7666941 0.3811504335 1.35014569

Using those functions was easy. Let’s now get them to work repeatedly for each country in the data set. The dplyr package, by Hadly Wickham and Romain Francois, provides an excellent set of tools for group-by processing. The dplyr package was loaded into memory as part of the tidyverse package used above. First we prepare the gapminder data set by using the group_by() function and telling it what variable(s) make up our groups:

> by_country <- 
+   group_by(gapminder, country)

Now any other function in the dplyr package will understand that the by_country data set contains groups, and it will process the groups separately when appropriate. However, we want to use the lm() function, and that does not understand what a grouped data frame is. Luckily, the dplyr package has a do() function that takes care of that problem, feeding any function only one group at a time. It uses the period “.” to represent each data frame in turn. The do() function wants the function it’s doing to return a data frame, but that’s exactly what broom’s functions do.

Let’s repeat the three broom functions, this time by country. We’ll start with glance().

> do(by_country, 
+    glance( 
+       lm(lifeExp ~ year, data = .)))

Source: local data frame [142 x 12]
Groups: country [142]

      country r.squared adj.r.squared sigma
    <fctr>      <dbl>      <dbl>    <dbl>
1 Afghanistan 0.9477123     0.9424835 1.2227880
2 Albania     0.9105778     0.9016355 1.9830615
3 Algeria     0.9851172     0.9836289 1.3230064
4 Angola      0.8878146     0.8765961 1.4070091
5 Argentina   0.9955681     0.9951249 0.2923072
6 Australia   0.9796477     0.9776125 0.6206086
7 Austria     0.9921340     0.9913474 0.4074094
8 Bahrain     0.9667398     0.9634138 1.6395865
9 Bangladesh  0.9893609     0.9882970 0.9766908
10 Belgium    0.9945406     0.9939946 0.2929025

# ... with 132 more rows, and 8 more variables:
# statistic <dbl>, p.value <dbl>, df <int>,
# logLik <dbl>, AIC <dbl>, BIC <dbl>,
# deviance <dbl>, df.residual <int>

Now rather than one row of output, we have a data frame with one row per country. Since it’s a data frame, we already know how to manage it. We could sort by R-squared, or correct the p-values for the number of models done using p.adjust(), and so on.

Next let’s look at the grouped parameter-level output that tidy() provides. This will be the same code as above, simply substituting tidy() where glance() had been.

> do(by_country, 
+    tidy( 
+      lm(lifeExp ~ year, data = .)))

Source: local data frame [284 x 6]
Groups: country [142]

country term estimate std.error
    <fctr>      <chr>        <dbl>     <dbl>
1 Afghanistan (Intercept) -507.5342716 40.484161954
2 Afghanistan year           0.2753287  0.020450934
3 Albania     (Intercept) -594.0725110 65.655359062
4 Albania     year           0.3346832  0.033166387
5 Algeria     (Intercept) -1067.8590396 43.802200843
6 Algeria     year            0.5692797  0.022127070
7 Angola      (Intercept)  -376.5047531 46.583370599
8 Angola      year            0.2093399 0.023532003
9 Argentina   (Intercept)  -389.6063445 9.677729641
10 Argentina  year            0.2317084 0.004888791

# ... with 274 more rows, and 2 more variables:
# statistic <dbl>, p.value <dbl>

Again, this is a simple data frame allowing us to do whatever we need without learning anything new. We can easily search for models that contain a specific parameter that is significant. In our organization, we search through salary models that contain many parameters to see if gender is an important predictor (hoping to find none, of course).

Finally, let’s augment the original model data by adding predicted values, residuals and so on. As you might expect, it’s the same code, this time with augment() replacing the tidy() function.

> do(by_country, 
+ augment( 
+ lm(lifeExp ~ year, data = .)))
Source: local data frame [1,704 x 10]
Groups: country [142]

   country   lifeExp year .fitted  .se.fit
    <fctr>     <dbl> <int> <dbl>    <dbl>
1 Afghanistan 28.801 1952 29.90729 0.6639995
2 Afghanistan 30.332 1957 31.28394 0.5799442
3 Afghanistan 31.997 1962 32.66058 0.5026799
4 Afghanistan 34.020 1967 34.03722 0.4358337
5 Afghanistan 36.088 1972 35.41387 0.3848726
6 Afghanistan 38.438 1977 36.79051 0.3566719
7 Afghanistan 39.854 1982 38.16716 0.3566719
8 Afghanistan 40.822 1987 39.54380 0.3848726
9 Afghanistan 41.674 1992 40.92044 0.4358337
10 Afghanistan 41.763 1997 42.29709 0.5026799

# ... with 1,694 more rows, and 5 more variables:
# .resid <dbl>, .hat <dbl>, .sigma <dbl>,
# .cooksd <dbl>, .std.resid <dbl>

If we were to pull out just the results for New Zealand, we would see that we got exactly the same answer in the group_by result as we did when we analyzed that country by itself.

We can save that augmented data to a file to reproduce one of the residual plots from R for Data Science.

> gapminder_augmented <-
+ do(by_country, 
+   augment( 
+     lm(lifeExp ~ year, data = .)))
> ggplot(gapminder_augmented, aes(year, .resid)) +
+   geom_line(aes(group = country), alpha = 1 / 3) + 
+   geom_smooth(se = FALSE)

`geom_smooth()` using method = 'gam'

This plots the residuals of each country’s model by year by setting “group=country” then it follows it with a smoothed fit (geom_smooth) for all countries (blue line) by leaving out “group=country”. That’s a clever approach that I haven’t thought of before!

The broom package has done several very helpful things. As we have seen, it contains all the smarts needed to extract the important parts of models at three different levels of detail. It doesn’t just do this for linear regression though. R’s methods() function will show you what types of models broom’s functions are currently capable of handling:

> methods(tidy) 
 [1] tidy.aareg* 
 [2] tidy.acf* 
 [3] tidy.anova* 
 [4] tidy.aov* 
 [5] tidy.aovlist* 
 [6] tidy.Arima* 
 [7] tidy.betareg* 
 [8] tidy.biglm* 
 [9] tidy.binDesign* 
[10] tidy.binWidth* 
[11] tidy.boot* 
[12] tidy.brmsfit* 
[13] tidy.btergm* 
[14] tidy.cch* 
[15] tidy.character* 
[16] tidy.cld* 
[17] tidy.coeftest* 
[18] tidy.confint.glht* 
[19] tidy.coxph* 
[20] tidy.cv.glmnet* 
[21] tidy.data.frame* 
[22] tidy.default* 
[23] tidy.density* 
[24] tidy.dgCMatrix* 
[25] tidy.dgTMatrix* 
[26] tidy.dist* 
[27] tidy.ergm* 
[28] tidy.felm* 
[29] tidy.fitdistr* 
[30] tidy.ftable* 
[31] tidy.gam* 
[32] tidy.gamlss* 
[33] tidy.geeglm* 
[34] tidy.glht* 
[35] tidy.glmnet* 
[36] tidy.glmRob* 
[37] tidy.gmm* 
[38] tidy.htest* 
[39] tidy.kappa* 
[40] tidy.kde* 
[41] tidy.kmeans* 
[42] tidy.Line* 
[43] tidy.Lines* 
[44] tidy.list* 
[45] tidy.lm* 
[46] tidy.lme* 
[47] tidy.lmodel2* 
[48] tidy.lmRob* 
[49] tidy.logical* 
[50] tidy.lsmobj* 
[51] tidy.manova* 
[52] tidy.map* 
[53] tidy.matrix* 
[54] tidy.Mclust* 
[55] tidy.merMod* 
[56] tidy.mle2* 
[57] tidy.multinom* 
[58] tidy.nlrq* 
[59] tidy.nls* 
[60] tidy.NULL* 
[61] tidy.numeric* 
[62] tidy.orcutt* 
[63] tidy.pairwise.htest* 
[64] tidy.plm* 
[65] tidy.poLCA* 
[66] tidy.Polygon* 
[67] tidy.Polygons* 
[68] tidy.power.htest* 
[69] tidy.prcomp* 
[70] tidy.pyears* 
[71] tidy.rcorr* 
[72] tidy.ref.grid* 
[73] tidy.ridgelm* 
[74] tidy.rjags* 
[75] tidy.roc* 
[76] tidy.rowwise_df* 
[77] tidy.rq* 
[78] tidy.rqs* 
[79] tidy.sparseMatrix* 
[80] tidy.SpatialLinesDataFrame* 
[81] tidy.SpatialPolygons* 
[82] tidy.SpatialPolygonsDataFrame*
[83] tidy.spec* 
[84] tidy.stanfit* 
[85] tidy.stanreg* 
[86] tidy.summary.glht* 
[87] tidy.summary.lm* 
[88] tidy.summaryDefault* 
[89] tidy.survexp* 
[90] tidy.survfit* 
[91] tidy.survreg* 
[92] tidy.table* 
[93] tidy.tbl_df* 
[94] tidy.ts* 
[95] tidy.TukeyHSD* 
[96] tidy.zoo* 
see '?methods' for accessing help and source code

Each of those models contain similar information, but often stored in a completely different data structure and named slightly different things, even when they’re nearly identical. While that covers a lot of model types, R has hundreds more. David Robinson, the package’s developer, encourages people to request adding additional ones by opening an issue here.

I hope I’ve made a good case that doing group-by analyses in R can be done easily through the combination of dplyr’s do() function and broom’s three functions. That approach handles the great majority of group-by problems that I’ve seen in my 35-year career. However, if your needs are not met by this approach, then I encourage you to read Chapter 25 of R for Data Science (update: in the printed version of the book, it’s Chapter 20, Many Models with purrr and broom.) But as the chapter warns, it will “stretch your brain!”

If your organization is interested in a hands-on workshop that covers many similar topics, please drop me a line. Have fun with your data analyses!

Posted in Data Mangement, Data Science, R, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Keeping Up with Your Data Science Options

The field of data science is changing so rapidly that it’s quite hard to keep up with it all. When I first started tracking The Popularity of Data Science Software in 2010, I followed only ten packages, all of them classic statistics software. The term data science hadn’t caught on yet, data mining was still a new thing. One of my recent blog posts covered 53 packages, and choosing them from a list of around 100 was a tough decision!

To keep up with the rapidly changing field, you can read the information on a package’s web site, see what people are saying on blog aggregators such as R-Bloggers.com or StatsBlogs.com, and if it sounds good, download a copy and try it out. What’s much harder to do is figure out how they all relate to one another. A helpful source of information on that front is the book Disruptive Analtyics, by Thomas Dinsmore.

I was lucky enough to be the technical reviewer for the book, during which time I ended up reading it twice. I still refer to it regularly as it covers quite a lot of material. In a mere 262 pages, Dinsmore manages to describe each of the following packages, how they relate to one another, and how they fit into the big picture of data science:

  • Alluxio
  • Alpine Data
  • Alteryx
  • Apex
  • Arrow
  • Caffe
  • Cloudera
  • Deeplearning4J
  • Drill
  • Flink
  • Giraph
  • Hadoop
  • HAWQ
  • Hive
  • IBM SPSS Modeler
  • Ignite
  • Impala
  • Kafka
  • KNIME Analytics Platform
  • Kylin
  • MADLib
  • Mahout
  • MapR
  • Microsoft R Aerver
  • Phoenix
  • Pig
  • Python
  • R
  • RapidMiner
  • Samza
  • SAS
  • Skytree Server
  • Spark
  • Storm
  • Tajo
  • Tensorflow
  • Tez
  • Theano
  • Trafodion

As you can tell from the title, a major theme of the book is how open source software is disrupting the data science marketplace. Dinsmore’s blog, ML/DL: Machine Learning, Deep Learning, extends the book’s coverage as data science software changes from week to week.

I highly recommend both the book and the blog. Have fun keeping up with the field!

Posted in Analytics, Data Science, Python, R, Statistics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Python and R Vie for Top Spot in Kaggle Competitions

I’ve just updated the Competition Use section of The Popularity of Data Science Software. Here’s just that section for your convenience.

Competition Use

Kaggle.com is a web site that sponsors data science contests. People post problems there along the amount of money they are willing pay the person or team who solves their problem the best. Both money and the competitors’ reputations are on the line, so there’s strong motivation to use the best possible tools. Figure 9 compares the usage of the top two tools chosen by the data scientists working on the problems. From April 2015 through July 2016, we see the usage of both R and Python growing at a similar rate. At the most recent time point Python has pulled ahead slightly. Much more detail is available here.

Figure 9. Software used in data science competitions on Kaggle.com in 2015 and 2016.

Posted in Data Science, Python, R | Leave a comment

The Tidyverse Curse

I’ve just finished a major overhaul to my widely read article, Why R is Hard to Learn. It describes the main complaints I’ve heard from the participants to my workshops, and how those complaints can often be mitigated. Here’s the only new section:

The Tidyverse Curse

There’s a common theme in many of the sections above: a task that is hard to perform using base a R function is made much easier by a function in the dplyr package. That package, and its relatives, are collectively known as the tidyverse. Its functions help with many tasks, such as selecting, renaming, or transforming variables, filtering or sorting observations, combining data frames, and doing by-group analyses. dplyr is such a helpful package that Rdocumentation.org shows that it is the single most popular R package (as of 3/23/2017.) As much of a blessing as these commands are, they’re also a curse to beginners as they’re more to learn. The main packages of dplyr, tibble, tidyr, and purrr contain a few hundred functions, though I use “only” around 60 of them regularly. As people learn R, they often comment that base R functions and tidyverse ones feel like two separate languages. The tidyverse functions are often the easiest to use, but not always; its pipe operator is usually simpler to use, but not always; tibbles are usually accepted by non-tidyverse functions, but not always; grouped tibbles may help do what you want automatically, but not always (i.e. you may need to ungroup or group_by higher levels). Navigating the balance between base R and the tidyverse is a challenge to learn.

A demonstration of the mental overhead required to use tidyverse function involves the usually simple process of printing data. I mentioned this briefly in the Identity Crisis section above. Let’s look at an example using the built-in mtcars data set using R’s built-in print function:

> print(mtcars)
                  mpg cyl disp  hp drat    wt  qsec vs am gear carb
Mazda RX4         21.0 6 160.0 110 3.90 2.620 16.46  0  1    4    4
Mazda RX4 Wag     21.0 6 160.0 110 3.90 2.875 17.02  0  1    4    4
Datsun 710        22.8 4 108.0  93 3.85 2.320 18.61  1  1    4    1
Hornet 4 Drive    21.4 6 258.0 110 3.08 3.215 19.44  1  0    3    1
Hornet Sportabout 18.7 8 360.0 175 3.15 3.440 17.02  0  0    3    2
Valiant           18.1 6 225.0 105 2.76 3.460 20.22  1  0    3    1

We see the data, but the variable names actually ran off the top of my screen when viewing the entire data set, so I had to scroll backwards to see what they were. The dplyr package adds several nice new features to the print function. Below, I’m taking mtcars and sending it using the pipe operator “%>%” into dplyr’s as_data_frame function to convert it to a special type of tidyverse data frame called a “tibble” which prints better. From there I send it to the print function (that’s R’s default function, so I could have skipped that step). The output all fits on one screen since it stopped at a default of 10 observations. That allowed me to easily see the variable names that had scrolled off the screen using R’s default print method. It also notes helpfully that there are 22 more rows in the data that are not shown. Additional information includes the row and column counts at the top (32 x 11), and the fact that the variables are stored in double precision (<dbl>).

> library("dplyr")
> mtcars %>%
+   as_data_frame() %>%
+   print()
# A tibble: 32 × 11
   mpg   cyl  disp    hp  drat    wt  qsec    vs   am   gear  carb
* <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl>
 1 21.0   6   160.0  110  3.90 2.620 16.46    0     1     4     4
 2 21.0   6   160.0  110  3.90 2.875 17.02    0     1     4     4
 3 22.8   4   108.0   93  3.85 2.320 18.61    1     1     4     1
 4 21.4   6   258.0  110  3.08 3.215 19.44    1     0     3     1
 5 18.7   8   360.0  175  3.15 3.440 17.02    0     0     3     2
 6 18.1   6   225.0  105  2.76 3.460 20.22    1     0     3     1
 7 14.3   8   360.0  245  3.21 3.570 15.84    0     0     3     4
 8 24.4   4   146.7   62  3.69 3.190 20.00    1     0     4     2
 9 22.8   4   140.8   95  3.92 3.150 22.90    1     0     4     2
10 19.2   6   167.6  123  3.92 3.440 18.30    1     0     4     4
# ... with 22 more rows

The new print format is helpful, but we also lost something important: the names of the cars! It turns out that row names get in the way of the data wrangling that dplyr is so good at, so tidyverse functions replace row names with 1, 2, 3…. However, the names are still available if you use the rownames_to_columns() function:

> library("dplyr")
> mtcars %>%
+   as_data_frame() %>%
+   rownames_to_column() %>%
+   print()
Error in function_list[[i]](value) : 
 could not find function "rownames_to_column"

Oops, I got an error message; the function wasn’t found. I remembered the right command, and using the dplyr package did cause the car names to vanish, but the solution is in the tibble package that I “forgot” to load. So let’s load that too (dplyr is already loaded, but I’m listing it again here just to make each example stand alone.)

> library("dplyr")
> library("tibble")
> mtcars %>%
+   as_data_frame() %>%
+   rownames_to_column() %>%
+   print()
# A tibble: 32 × 12
 rowname            mpg   cyl disp    hp   drat   wt   qsec   vs    am   gear carb
  <chr>            <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl>
1 Mazda RX4         21.0   6   160.0  110  3.90  2.620 16.46   0     1     4     4
2 Mazda RX4 Wag     21.0   6   160.0  110  3.90  2.875 17.02   0     1     4     4
3 Datsun 710        22.8   4   108.0   93  3.85  2.320 18.61   1     1     4     1
4 Hornet 4 Drive    21.4   6   258.0  110  3.08  3.215 19.44   1     0     3     1
5 Hornet Sportabout 18.7   8   360.0  175  3.15  3.440 17.02   0     0     3     2
6 Valiant           18.1   6   225.0  105  2.76  3.460 20.22   1     0     3     1
7 Duster 360        14.3   8   360.0  245  3.21  3.570 15.84   0     0     3     4
8 Merc 240D         24.4   4   146.7   62  3.69  3.190 20.00   1     0     4     2
9 Merc 230          22.8   4   140.8   95  3.92  3.150 22.90   1     0     4     2
10 Merc 280         19.2   6   167.6  123  3.92  3.440 18.30   1     0     4     4
# ... with 22 more rows

Another way I could have avoided that problem is by loading the package named tidyverse, which includes both dplyr and tibble, but that’s another detail to learn.

In the above output, the row names are back! What if we now decided to save the data for use with a function that would automatically display row names? It would not find them because now they’re now stored in a variable called rowname, not in the row names position! Therefore, we would need to use either the built-in names function or the tibble package’s column_to_rownames function to restore the names to their previous position.

Most other data science software requires row names to be stored in a standard variable e.g. rowname. You then supply its name to procedures with something like SAS’
“ID rowname;” statement. That’s less to learn.

This isn’t a defect of the tidyverse, it’s the result of an architectural decision on the part of the original language designers; it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. The tidyverse functions are just doing the best they can with the existing architecture.

Another example of the difference between base R and the tidyverse can be seen when dealing with long text strings. Here I have a data frame in tidyverse format (a tibble). I’m asking it to print the lyrics for the song American Pie. Tibbles normally print in a nicer format than standard R data frames, but for long strings, they only display what fits on a single line:

> songs_df %>%
+   filter(song == "american pie") %>%
+   select(lyrics) %>%
+   print()
# A tibble: 1 × 1
1 a long long time ago i can still remember how that music used

The whole song can be displayed by converting the tibble to a standard R data frame by routing it through the as.data.frame function:

> songs_df %>%
+   filter(song == "american pie") %>%
+   select(lyrics) %>%
+   as.data.frame() %>%
+   print()
 ... <truncated>
1 a long long time ago i can still remember how that music used 
to make me smile and i knew if i had my chance that i could make 
those people dance and maybe theyd be happy for a while but 
february made me shiver with every paper id deliver bad news on 
the doorstep i couldnt take one more step i cant remember if i cried 

These examples demonstrate a small slice of the mental overhead you’ll need to deal with as you learn base R and the tidyverse packages, such as dplyr. Since this section has focused on what makes R hard to learn, it may make you wonder why dplyr is the most popular R package. You can get a feel for that by reading the Introduction to dplyr. Putting in the time to learn it is well worth the effort.

Posted in Data Science, R | 14 Comments

Forrester’s 2017 Take on Tools for Data Science

In my ongoing quest to track The Popularity of Data Science Software, I’ve updated the discussion of the annual report from Forrester, which I repeat here to save you from having to read through the entire document. If your organization is looking for training in the R language, you might consider my books, R for SAS and SPSS Users or R for Stata Users, or my on-site workshops.

Forrester Research, Inc. is a company that provides reports which analyze the competitive position of tools for data science. The conclusions from their 2017 report, Forrester Wave: Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning Solutions, are summarized in Figure 3b. On the x-axis they list the strength of each company’s strategy, while the y-axis measures the strength of their current offering. The size and shading of the circles around each data point indicate the strength of each vendor in the marketplace (70% vendor size, 30% ISV and service partners).

As with Gartner 2017 report discussed above, IBM, SAS, KNIME, and RapidMiner are considered leaders. However, Forrester sees several more companies in this category: Angoss, FICO, and SAP. This is quite different from the Gartner analysis, which places Angoss and SAP in the middle of the pack, while FICO is considered a niche player.

Figure 3b. Forrester Wave plot of predictive analytics and machine learning software.

In their Strong Performers category, they have H2O.ai, Microsoft, Statistica, Alpine Data, Dataiku, and, just barely, Domino Data Labs. Gartner rates Dataiku quite a bit higher, but they generally agree on the others. The exception is that Gartner dropped coverage of Alpine Data in 2017. Finally, Salford Systems is in the Contenders section. Salford was recently purchased by Minitab, a company that has never been rated by either Gartner or Forrester before as they focused on being a statistics package rather than expanding into machine learning or artificial intelligence tools as most other statistics packages have (another notable exception: Stata). It will be interesting to see how they’re covered in future reports.

Compared to last year’s Forrester report, KNIME shot up from barely being a Strong Performer into the Leader’s segment. RapidMiner and FICO moved from the middle of the Strong Performers segment to join the Leaders. The only other major move was a lateral one for Statistica, whose score on Strategy went down while its score on Current Offering went up (last year Statistica belonged to Dell, this year it’s part of Quest Software.)

The size of the “market presence” circle for RapidMiner indicates that Forrester views its position in the marketplace to be as strong as that of IBM and SAS. I find that perspective quite a stretch indeed!

Alteryx, Oracle, and Predixion were all dropped from this year’s Forrester report. They mention Alteryx and Oracle as having “capabilities embedded in other tools” implying that that is not the focus of this report. No mention was made of why Predixion was dropped, but considering that Gartner also dropped coverage of then in 2017, it doesn’t bode well for the company.

For a much more detailed analysis, see Thomas Dinsmore’s blog.

Posted in Analytics, Data Science, R, SAS, SPSS | 2 Comments

Jobs for “Data Science” Up 7-fold, for “Statistician” Down by Half

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for statisticians will grow by 34% between 2014 and 2024. However, according to the nation’s largest job web site, the number of companies looking for “statisticians” is actually in sharp decline. Those jobs are likely being replaced by postings for “data scientists.”

I regularly monitor the Popularity of Data Science Software, and as an offshoot of that project, I collected data that helps us understand how the term “data science” is defined. I began by finding jobs that required expertise in software used for data science such as R or SPSS. I then examined the tasks that the jobs entailed, such as “analyze data,” and looked up jobs based only on one task at a time. I switched back and forth between searching for software and for the terms used to describe the jobs, until I had a comprehensive list of both. In the end, I had searched for over 50 software packages and over 40 descriptive terms or tasks. I had also skimmed thousands of job advertisements. (Additional details are here).


Search Terms 2/26/2017 2/17/2014 Ratio
Big Data 20,646 10,378 1.99
Data analytics 15,774 6,209 2.54
Machine learning 12,499 3,658 3.42
Statistical analysis 11,397 9,719 1.17
Data mining 9,757 7,776 1.25
Data Science 6,873 973 7.06
Quantitative analysis 4,095 3,365 1.22
Business analytics 4,043 2,867 1.41
Advanced Analytics 3,479 1,497 2.32
Data Scientist 3,272 974 3.36
Statistical software 2,835 2,102 1.35
Predictive analytics 2,411 1,497 1.61
Artificial intelligence 2,404 794 3.03
Predictive modeling 2,264 1,804 1.25
Statistical modeling 2,040 1,462 1.40
Quantitative research 1,837 1,380 1.33
Research analyst 1,756 1,722 1.02
Statistical tools 1,414 1,121 1.26
Statistician 904 1,711 0.53
Statistical packages 784 559 1.40
Survey research 440 559 0.79
Quantitative modeling 352 322 1.09
Statistical research 208 174 1.20
Statistical computing 153 108 1.42
Research computing 133 97 1.37
Statistical analyst 125 141 0.89
Data miner 34 19 1.79

Many terms were used outside the realm of data science. Other terms were used both in data science jobs and in jobs that require little analytic skill. Terms that could not be used to specifically find data science jobs were: analytics, data visualization, graphics, data graphics, statistics, statistical, survey, research associate, and business intelligence. One term, econometric(s), required deep analytical skills, but was too focused on one field.

The search terms that were well-focused on data science, but not overly focused in a single field are listed in the following table. The table is sorted by the number of jobs found on Indeed.com on February 26, 2017. While each column displays counts taken on a single day, the large size of Indeed.com’s database of jobs keeps its counts stable. The correlation between the logs of the two counts is quite strong, r=.95, p= 4.7e-14.

During this three-year period, the overall unemployment rate dropped from 6.7% to 4.7%, indicating a period of job growth for most fields. Three terms grew very rapidly indeed with “data science” growing 7-fold, and both “data scientist” and “artificial intelligence” tripling in size. The biggest surprise was that the use of the term “statistician” took a huge hit, dropping to only 53% of its former value.

That table covers a wide range of terms, but only on two dates. What does the long-term trend look like? Indeed.com has a trend-tracking page that lets us answer that question. The figure below shows solid the growth in the percentage of advertisements that used the term “data scientist” (blue, top right), while those using the term “statistician” (yellow, lower right) are steadily declining.

The plot on the company’s site is interactive (the one shown here is not) allowing me to see that the most recent data points were recorded on December 27, 2016. On that date, the percentage of jobs for data scientist were 474% of those for statistician.

As an accredited professional statistician, am I worried about this trend? Not at all. Statistical analysis software has broadened its scope to include many new capabilities including: machine learning, artificial intelligence, Structured Query Language, advanced visualization techniques, interfaces to Python, R, and Apache Spark. The software has changed because the job known as “statistician” has changed. Statisticians aren’t going away, their jobs are evolving into what we now know as data science. And that field is growing quite nicely!

Posted in Analytics, Data Science, R, SAS, Statistics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Data Science Job Report 2017: R Passes SAS, But Python Leaves Them Both Behind

I’ve just updated another section of The Popularity of Data Science Software. It is reproduced below to save you the trouble of reading the entire article. If your organization is looking for training in the R language, you might consider my books, R for SAS and SPSS Users or R for Stata Users, or my on-site workshops.

Job Advertisements

One of the best ways to measure the popularity or market share of software for data science is to count the number of job advertisements for each. Job advertisements are rich in information and are backed by money so they are perhaps the best measure of how popular each software is now. Plots of job trends give us a good idea of what is likely to become more popular in the future.

Indeed.com is the biggest job site in the U.S., making its collection the best around. As their co-founder and former CEO Paul Forster stated, Indeed.com includes “all the jobs from over 1,000 unique sources, comprising the major job boards – Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, Craigslist – as well as hundreds of newspapers, associations, and company websites." Indeed.com also has superb search capabilities and it includes a tool for tracking long-term trends.

Searching for jobs using Indeed.com is easy, but searching for software in a way that ensures fair comparisons across packages is tricky. Some software is used only for data science (e.g. SPSS, Apache Spark) while others are used in data science jobs and more broadly in report-writing jobs (e.g. SAS, Tableau). General-purpose languages (e.g. C, Java) are heavily used in data science jobs, but the vast majority of jobs that use them have nothing to do with data science. To level the playing field I developed a protocol to focus the search for each software within only jobs for data scientists. The details of this protocol are described in a separate article, How to Search for Data Science Jobs. All of the graphs in this section use those procedures to make the required queries.

I collected the job counts discussed in this section on February 24, 2017. One might think that a sample of on a single day might not be very stable, but the large number of job sources makes the counts in Indeed.com’s collection of jobs quite consistent. The last time I collected this data was February 20, 2014, and those that were collected using the same protocol (the general purpose languages) yielded quite similar results. They grew between 7% and 11%, and correlated r=.94, p=.002.

Figure 1a shows that SQL is in the lead with nearly 18,000 jobs, followed by Python and Java in the 13,000’s. Hadoop comes next with just over 10,000 jobs, then R, the C variants, and SAS. (The C, C++, and C# are combined in a single search since job advertisements usually seek any of them). This is the first time this report has shown more jobs for R than SAS, but keep in mind these are jobs specific to data science. If you open up the search to include jobs for report writing, you’ll find twice as many SAS jobs.

Next comes Apache Spark, which was too new to be included in the 2014 report. It has come a long way in an incredibly short time. For a detailed analysis of Spark’s status, see Spark is the Future of Analytics, by Thomas Dinsmore.

Tableau follows, with around 5,000 jobs. The 2014 report excluded Tableau due to its jobs being dominated by report writing. Including report writing will quadruple the number of jobs for Tableau expertise to just over 2o,ooo.

Figure 1a. The number of data science jobs for the more popular software (those with 250 jobs or more, 2/2017).

Apache Hive is next, with around 3,900 jobs, then a very diverse set of software comes next, with Scala, SAP, MATLAB, and SPSS, each having just over 2,500 data science jobs. After those, we see a slow decline from Teradata on down.

Much of the software had fewer than 250 job listings. When displayed on the same graph as the industry leaders, their job counts appear to be zero; therefore I have plotted them separately in Figure 1b. Alteryx comes out the leader of this group with 240 jobs. Microsoft was a difficult search since it appears in data science ads that mention other Microsoft products such as Windows or SQL Server. To eliminate such over-counting, I treated Microsoft different from the rest by including product names such as Azure Machine Learning and Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit. So there’s a good chance I went from over-emphasizing Microsoft to under-emphasizing it with only 157 jobs.

Figure 1b. The number of analytics jobs for the less popular software (under 250 jobs, 2/2017).

Next comes the fascinating new high-performance language Julia. I added FORTRAN just for fun and was surprised to see it still hanging in there after all these years. Apache Flink is also in this grouping, which all have around 125 jobs.

H2O follows, with just over 100 jobs.

I find it fascinating that SAS Enterprise Miner, RapidMiner, and KNIME appear with a similar number of jobs (around 90). Those three share a similar workflow user interface that make them particularly easy to use. The companies advertise the software as not needing much training, so it may be possible that companies feel little need to hire expertise if their existing staff picks it up more easily. SPSS Modeler also uses that type of interface, but its job count is about half that of the others, at 50 jobs.

Bringing up the rear is Statistica, which was sold to Dell, then sold to Quest. Its 36 jobs trails far behind its similar competitor, SPSS, which has a staggering 74-fold job advantage.

The open source MXNet deep learning framework, shows up next with 34 jobs. Tensorflow is a similar project with a 12-fold job advantage, but these two are both young enough that I expect both will be growing rapidly in the future.

In the final batch that has few, if any, jobs, we see a few newcomers such as DataRobot and Domino Data Labs. Others have been around for years, leaving us to wonder how they manage to stay afloat given all the competition.

It’s important to note that the values shown in Figures 1a and 1b are single points in time. The number of jobs for the more popular software do not change much from day to day. Therefore the relative rankings of the software shown in Figure 1a is unlikely to change much over the coming year. The less popular packages shown in Figure 1b have such low job counts that their ranking is more likely to shift from month to month, though their position relative to the major packages should remain more stable.

Each software has an overall trend that shows how the demand for jobs changes across the years. You can plot these trends using Indeed.com’s Job Trends tool. However, as before, focusing just on analytics jobs requires carefully constructed queries, and when comparing two trends at a time, they both have to fit in the same query limit. Those details are described here.

I’m particularly interested in trends involving R so let’s see how it compares to SAS. In Figure 1c we see that the number of data science jobs for SAS has remained relatively flat from 2012 until February 28, 2017 when I made this plot. During that same period, jobs for R grew steadily and finally surpassed jobs for SAS in early 2016. As noted in a blog post (and elsewhere in this report), use of R in scholarly publications surpassed those for SAS in 2015.

Figure 1c. Data science job trends for R (blue) and SAS (orange).

A long-standing debate has been taking place on the Internet regarding the relative place of Python and R. Ironically, this debate about data science software has involved very little actual data. However, it is possible now to at least study the job trends. Figure 1a showed us that Python is well out in front of R, at least on that single day the searches were run. What has the data looked like over time? The answer is shown in Figure 1d.

Figure 1d. Jobs trends for R (blue & lower) and Python (orange & upper).

As we see, Python surpassed R in terms of data science jobs back in 2013. These are, of course, very different languages and a quick scan of job descriptions will show that the R jobs are much more focused on the use of existing methods of analysis, while the Python jobs have more of a custom-programming angle to them.

Posted in Analytics, Data Science, R, SAS, SPSS, Statistics, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Gartner’s 2017 Take on Data Science Software

In my ongoing quest to track The Popularity of Data Analysis Software, I’ve finally decided to change the title to use the newer term “data science”. The 2017 version of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Science Platforms was just published, so I have updated my IT Research Firms section, which I repeat here to save you from having to dig through the entire 40+ page tome. If your organization is looking for training in the R language, you might consider my books, R for SAS and SPSS Users or R for Stata Users, or my on-site workshops.

IT Research Firms

IT research firms study software products and corporate strategies, they survey customers regarding their satisfaction with the products and services, and then provide their analysis on each in reports they sell to their clients. Each company has its own criteria for rating companies, so they don’t always agree. However, I find the reports extremely interesting reading. While these reports are expensive, the companies that receive good ratings often purchase copies to give away to potential customers. An Internet search of the report title will often reveal the companies that are distributing such copies.

Gartner, Inc. is one of the companies that provides such reports. Out of the roughly 100 companies selling data science software, Gartner selected 16 which had either high revenue or lower revenue but high growth (see full report for details). After extensive input from both customers and company representatives, Gartner analysts rated the companies on their “completeness of vision” and their “ability to execute” that vision. Figure 3 shows the resulting plot. Note that purely open source software is not rated by Gartner, but nearly all the software in Figure 3 includes the ability to interact with R and Python.

The Leader’s Quadrant is the place for companies who have a future direction in line with their customer’s needs and the resources to execute that vision. The four companies in the Leaders quadrant have remained the same for the last three reports: IBM, KNIME, RapidMiner, and SAS. Of these, they rate IBM as having slightly greater “completeness of vision” due to the extensive integration they offer to open source software compared to SAS Institute. KNIME and RapidMiner are quite similar as the are driven by an easy to use workflow interface. Both offer free and open source versions, but RapidMiner’s is limited by a cap on the amount of data that it can analyze. IBM and SAS are market leaders based on revenue and, as we have seen, KNIME and RapidMiner are the ones with high growth.

Figure 3a. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Science Platforms

The companies in the Visionaries quadrant are those that have a good future plans but which may not have the resources to execute that vision. Of these, Microsoft increased its ability to execute compared to the 2016 report, and Alpine, one of the smallest companies, declined sharply in their ability to execute. The remaining three companies in this quadrant have just been added: H2O.ai, Dataiku, and Domino Data Lab.

Those in the Challenger’s quadrant have ample resources but less customer confidence on their future plans. Mathworks, the makers of MATLAB, is new to the report. Quest purchased Statistica from Dell, and it appears in roughly the same position as Dell did last year.

The Niche Players quadrant offer tools that are not as broadly applicable.

In 2017 Gartner dropped coverage of Accenture, Lavastorm, Megaputer, Predixion Software, and Prognoz.

Posted in Analytics, Data Science, R, SAS, SPSS, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Knoxville, TN: R for Text Analysis Workshop

The Knoxville R Users Group is presenting a workshop on text analysis using R by Bob Muenchen. The workshop is free and open to the public. You can join the group at https://www.meetup.com/Knoxville-R-Users-Group. A description of the workshop follows.

Seeking Cloud

R for Text Analysis

When analyzing text using R, it’s hard to know where to begin. There are 37 packages available and there is quite a lot of overlap in what they can do. This workshop will demonstrate how to do three popular approaches: dictionary-based content analysis, latent semantic analysis, and latent Dirichlet allocation. We will spend much of the time on the data preparation steps that are important to all text analysis methods including data acquisition, word stemming/lemmatization, removal of punctuation and other special characters, phrase discovery, tokenization, and so on. While the examples will focus on the automated extraction of topics in the text files, we will also briefly cover the analysis of sentiment (e.g. how positive is customer feedback?) and style (who wrote this? are they telling the truth?)

The results of each text analysis approach will be the topics found, and a numerical measure of each topic in each document. We will then merge that with numeric data and do analyses combining both types of data.

The R packages used include quanteda, lsa, topicmodels, tidytext and wordcloud; with brief coverage of tm and SnowballC. While the workshop will not be hands-on due to time constraints, the programs and data files will be available afterwards.

Where: University of Tennessee Humanities and Social Sciences Building, room 201. If the group gets too large, the location may move and a notice will be sent to everyone who RSVPs on Meetup.com or who registers at the UT workshop site below. You can also verify the location the day before via email with Bob at muenchen@utk.edu.

When: 9:05-12:05 Friday 1/27/17

Prerequisite: R language basics

Members of UT Community register at: http://workshop.utk.edu under Researcher Focused

Members of other groups please RSVP on your respective sites so I can bring enough handouts.

Posted in Analytics, Data Science, R, Statistics, Text Analysis, Uncategorized | 7 Comments