Data Mining: Algorithms & Examples

Instructor: David Gloag
In this lesson, we'll take a look at the process of data mining, some algorithms, and examples. At the end of the lesson, you should have a good understanding of this unique, and useful, process.

Learning from Information

Have you ever noticed that we seem to collect information on everything these days? We count the number of people that watch particular TV programs like the Simpsons and Castle. We track various things in our yearly trips to the dentist. And we collect information on the buying habits of customers in stores like Macy's and Home Depot. As you might imagine, it adds up to a lot of data. So wouldn't it be nice if we could learn something new from that information? In fact, we can. By applying the process of data mining, we can do just that.

What is Data Mining?

Data mining is the process of looking at, ordering, and noticing patterns in large sets of information. It often makes use of knowledge and technology from several technical areas including:

  • computer science
  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • databases and database technology
  • statistics

In the end, the goal is to derive logical conclusions from seemingly random sets of data.

Let's look at a simple example. Say we have the following set of numbers; 9, 3, 0, 15, 12, 6. They look random, but are they? Let's order them -- smallest to the largest. This gives; 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15. Next, let's look for a pattern. A close look reveals that these numbers represent a sequence. In particular, each value in the sequence (i) can be represented by the formula:

i = 3k, where k = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

We can even take that a step further and predict that the next number in the sequence would be 18 (3 x 6). Granted, this example is trivial, but you get the idea.

What is a Data Mining Algorithm?

A data mining algorithm is a formalized description of the processes similar to the one used in the above example. In other words, it is a step-by-step description of the procedure or theme used to bring order and meaning to a set of information. Some are quite simple and require little to understand and implement. Others are very complex and require significant study and effort to implement. In the end, they can take on many forms, depending on the data to be considered and the result you wish to obtain.

What are Some Examples of Data Mining Algorithms?

There are many, many data mining algorithms out there, far more than can be counted. Here is a list of some of the more common ones. Each is different from the others, in some significant way:

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