Friday, April 26, 2013

Math and Predictive Analytics - A Personal Account

Last week I taught a workshop at Predictive Analytics World entitled Supercharging Prediction: Hands-On with Ensemble Models. The workshop was intended to introduce predictive modelers to the concept of ensembles through a combination of lecture to provide an overview of model ensembles and hands-on to gain experience building ensembles using Salford Systems SPM v7.0 (Salford Systems sponsored the workshop).

This morning, Heather Hinman, a Marketing Communications Manager at Salford Systems, posted comments on attending that workshop at the Salford Systems blog. Two comments were particularly interesting, especially their implications vis a vis my last blog post on math and predictive analytics:

I will admit I was intimidated at first to be participating in a predictive modeling workshop as I do not have a background in statistics, and only have basic training on decision tree tools by Salford Systems' team of in-house experts. Despite my basic knowledge of decision trees, I was thrilled that I was able to follow along with ease and understanding when learning about tree ensembles and modern hybrid modeling approaches. Marketing folk building predictive models? Yes, we can!
Now back at the office in San Diego, along with my usual responsibilities, I feel confident in my ability to build predictive models and gain insights into the data at hand to achieve the email marketing and online campaign goals for our communication efforts!  
In the post, Heather also outlines some of the principles she learned and how she used them to build the predictive models in the workshop.

The point is this: if one uses good software that uses solid principles for building predictive models, and one understands key principles of building predictive models, someone without a mathematics background can build good, profitable models.

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