Basics of Data Mining

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
With the advancements of more capable computers, data mining has emerged as a counterweight to outward looking trends in big data. Data mining focuses on what is available to a company.

What is Data Mining?

While there is a great deal of interest in the role of big data to make decisions, the truth is that many companies have plenty of data on their own servers. It is just a question of knowing how to use it. Through the use of data mining, companies are better able to draw new conclusions by using data that they already know to be true and examining it in a new way. A great way to think about this is that baseball statistics are full of different analyses with which to compare different players even though the total number of actions that a given player can do is rather limited.

This is a major advantage over big data, which by virtue of its sheer size is likely to let errors work their way into the greater body of information. In this lesson, we will see how data mining works for companies of all sizes. Afterwards, we'll look at an example that shows it in action.

How Does It Work?

Earlier, I made reference to baseball as a great example of data mining. It is actually a great example of how the field works. Raw data is analyzed in a variety of different ways, creating new ways of looking at the same information. A wide array of statistical and regression-based analyses are used. In the end, the data owner has access to information that may not immediately be apparent, but it does make sense with respect to the data.


Without going too heavily into the math required, let's take a look at when data mining may be useful and how a company could go about doing it. Let's say that you are a consulting company that helps people build databases for their information. You've had some level of success and over the past few years have built up both a substantial client base that hires you on retainer as well as a number of companies that hire you every so often. Your question is how much business can you expect from a particular geographic region at a future point in time? Raw data alone can only show you what has happened in the past.

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