Data mining courses in MBA programs

Data mining and advanced data analysis courses are becoming more and more popular in B-schools. I asked colleagues about such electives in their universities, and also did some web- searching. It looks like different courses range in topics and flavor, depending in many times on the instructor’s field of expertise (statistics, operations research, information systems, marketing, machine learning, etc). But all courses typically revolve around real business applications. Here’s an initial list that I’ve composed (alphabetical in School name). I hope that others who teach or are taking such courses will add to the list. Links to syllabuses are also … Continue reading Data mining courses in MBA programs

A cool book

One of my favorite statistics books that just makes you want to learn data analysis is Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt – an economist from the University of Chicago who was recently awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, and Stephen Dubner – an author and writer for the NYT and The New Yorker. Together they created a rare product: a data analysis books to take to bed! The book describes several somewhat-wild studies in an attempt to answer questions that your kids might have asked you: “Why do drug dealers still … Continue reading A cool book

Stairway to Heaven

“There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is goldAnd she’s buying a stairway to heavenAnd when she gets there she knows if the stores are closedWith a word she can get what she came for” Led Zeppelin were on to something — The Mar-27 BusinessWeek cover story includes a report on BestBuy who’se trying to escape commodity hell via customer segmentation: “The company has divided its customers into five distinct demographic groups and is doing extensive market research to figure out how to serve them better” On their website, a press release gives further details: “As part of its … Continue reading Stairway to Heaven

Data mining for prediction vs. explanation

A colleague of mine and I have an ongoing discussion about what data mining is about. In particular, he claims that data mining focuses on predictive tasks, whereas I see the use of data mining methods for either prediction or explanation. Predictive vs. Explanatory TasksThe distinction between predictive and explanatory tasks is not always easy: Of course, in both cases the goal is “future actionable results”. In general, an explanatory goal (also called characterizing or profiling) is when we’re interested in learning about factors that affect a certain outcome. In contrast, a predictive goal (also called classification, when we have … Continue reading Data mining for prediction vs. explanation

Impact of weather on the economy

The March 6 issue of BusinessWeek reports an increase in retail sales and housing starts this January (What Got The Economy’s Bouce Going). The hypothesis is that the cause is the relative warm weather (an average of 39.6F). So how can this be tested? BW mention a study by James O’sullivan, an economist with UBS, that tries to quantify the impact of warm January weather on retail sales and housing starts. They describe it as follows: He looked at the historical relationship between data from several economic reports and deviations from the average December and January temperatures. December temperatures were … Continue reading Impact of weather on the economy

What jobs does a good data mining course land you?

I always love to hear from former students about the great jobs that they landed after graduating from the MBA program. It is especially great (and I must admit – surprising) when the data mining course they took at the Smith School was instrumental is getting that job. Here’s one of the more unusual stories (quoting from a former student’s email): “Just a couple weeks before completing the requirements of the program, thanks in no small part to what I learned [in the data mining course] … I have accepted an offer for a dream job in the entertainment industry. … Continue reading What jobs does a good data mining course land you?