Written by renowned data science experts Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett, Data Science for Business introduces the fundamental principles of data science, and walks you through the “data-analytic thinking” necessary for extracting useful knowledge and business value from the data you collect. This guide also helps you understand the many data-mining techniques in use today.

Based on an MBA course Provost has taught at New York University over the past ten years, Data Science for Business provides examples of real-world business problems to illustrate these principles. You’ll not only learn how to improve communication between business stakeholders and data scientists, but also how participate intelligently in your company’s data science projects. You’ll also discover how to think data-analytically, and fully appreciate how data science methods can support business decision-making.

  • Understand how data science fits in your organization—and how you can use it for competitive advantage
  • Treat data as a business asset that requires careful investment if you’re to gain real value
  • Approach business problems data-analytically, using the data-mining process to gather good data in the most appropriate way
  • Learn general concepts for actually extracting knowledge from data
  • Apply data science principles when interviewing data science job candidates

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In a previous post, I pointed out that the Southeastern Conference was ahead in the point totals for the 2014 AP Preseason Poll. After the first weekend of college football, this lead has gotten slightly larger. Check out the interactive graph below:

As you can see, the SEC’s total points in the poll have increased over 6% from 6,100 to 6,501 points. The only other conferences that gained points from week 1 to week 2 were the BIG 12 and FBS Independents.

While the SEC had the largest total point increase in the AP poll, the conference that garnered the largest percent change from week 1 to week 2 was the FBS Independents conference. Their point total increased from 455 to 540, earning them a 18.68% increase. This increase is mostly due to the 74 point gain by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.


There has been much debate about public education spending and its effect (if any) on test scores. Members of both sides of the argument have their own perspective and are very good at getting their point across. Proponents of greater funding for public schools point out that more funds provide greater opportunity for teachers and students in the classroom. On the other hand, those who oppose more spending believe that the opportunities lie in being creative with resources and developing top talent to engage students. Unfortunately, this issue is really not easily solved.

The solution for many complex situations oftentimes lies in the middle, where both sides must compromise to get to an agreeable solution. I am going to propose that maybe we do need to spend more money on education – in some areas, and cut back on spending in others. Fortunately, we live in an era where nearly everything can be quantified and tracked.

Looking at the figures from the year 2012, we have two very basic education metrics – spending per pupil and ACT scores. Both of these are aggregated on a per-state basis for comparability.


Notice the very large distribution range of state spending compared to the smaller range of ACT scores in the two box and whisker charts above. Utah is the frugal one of the bunch at $6,206 per enrolled pupil and New York state leads the pack at a whopping $19,552 spent per pupil. That is 215% more per student. Now, lets take a quick look at the ACT scores from these two states.  

New York is at near the top of the pack with its average ACT score of 23.3, while Utah is lower at 20.7. New York’s score of 23.3 is great, but is it worth $13,346 more per student? I doubt that it is, especially when considering that the maximum score for the ACT is 36.

Before you get out the pitchforks, I just want to say that I realize this is just one test and standardized test are another controversial topic. The task of educating students has many moving parts, and our education professionals have no control over them. Students are greatly influenced by their environment at home. Factors like harmony within the home (or lack thereof), poverty, and diet – just to name a few are very real things that children deal with on a daily basis.

With that said, now I want to point out that there is some evidence that spending more on education can improve test scores. Keep in mind that what I have found in the scatter plot chart below is a correlation, and one of the basic principles of statistics is that correlation does not imply causation. In other words, correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other.

Scatter plots can help us to see the relationship between two variables. The median value of the ACT scores is 21.6. In the chart above, all of the states that scored below the median are in red and those above are in blue. Also, the states that spend the most are plotted to the right side of the graph, while those with the highest scores are plotted towards the top. Notice there is a group of red squares in the lower left quadrant of the graph and more blue squares towards the upper right. Again, just because the numbers correlate does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.

We need to take a long, hard look at our education system with the belief that everything is on the table. Spending, when done right, can produce some very positive results and potentially save money in the long run. However, spending increases must be done wisely and along with reforms that will eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

The Associated Press Preseason College Football poll for 2014 is out and the Southeastern Conference is leading according to the numbers. The first thing one notices upon seeing the results of the poll is the Florida State Seminoles, an Atlantic Coast Conference team, is ruling the poll from the top.

1 Florida State (57) 0-0 1496
2 Alabama (1) 0-0 1361
3 Oregon (1) 0-0 1334
4 Oklahoma (1) 0-0 1324
5 Ohio State 0-0 1207
6 Auburn 0-0 1198
7 UCLA 0-0 1106
8 Michigan State 0-0 1080
9 South Carolina 0-0 1015
10 Baylor 0-0 966
11 Stanford 0-0 885
12 Georgia 0-0 843
13 LSU 0-0 776
14 Wisconsin 0-0 637
15 USC 0-0 626
16 Clemson 0-0 536
17 Notre Dame 0-0 445
18 Ole Miss 0-0 424
19 Arizona State 0-0 357
20 Kansas State 0-0 242
21 Texas A&M 0-0 238
22 Nebraska 0-0 226
23 North Carolina 0-0 194
24 Missouri 0-0 134
25 Washington 0-0 130

The returning champions, Florida State, are an excellent team and the Atlantic Coast Conference is an excellent conference, but things get interesting when you dig into the underlying numbers. When you aggregate the total points that are assigned to each team based on which conference they belong to, you see that the Southeastern Conference has the edge, overall.


The Southeastern Conference has the highest total points at 6,100 with the next conference, the PAC 12 coming in second with 4,448 points. Here is a breakdown of how the remaining conferences fared:

1 Southeastern Conference 6,100 Points
2 PAC 12 4,448 points
3 Big Ten 3,250 points
4 Big 12 2,812 points
5 Atlantic Coast Conference 2,387 points
6 FBS Independents 455 points
7 American Conference 109 points
8 Conference USA 41 points
9 Mountain West Conference 12 points
10 Sun Belt Conference 1 point

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was authorized by the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whose passage in 2010 was a legislative response to the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the subsequent Great Recession. Their stated mission is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products. In short, they work to ensure that consumers are being treated fairly and equitably in the marketplace.

One of the many services that they offer is to allow consumers to file a complaint against a business if they feel that they have been wronged or mistreated. After looking at the YTD data for this organization from the year 2014, it is very noticeable that the residents of California are very active with this agency. They lead the nation in number of complaints, followed by Florida then Texas. Continue reading