Application areas

Posts focusing on the use of database and analytic technologies in specific application domains. Related subjects include:

August 3, 2015

Data messes

A lot of what I hear and talk about boils down to “data is a mess”. Below is a very partial list of examples.

To a first approximation, one would expect operational data to be rather clean. After all, it drives and/or records business transactions. So if something goes awry, the result can be lost money, disappointed customers, or worse, and those are outcomes to be strenuously avoided. Up to a point, that’s indeed true, at least at businesses large enough to be properly automated. (Unlike, for example — :) — mine.)

Even so, operational data has some canonical problems. First, it could be inaccurate; somebody can just misspell or otherwise botch an entry. Further, there are multiple ways data can be unreachable, typically because it’s:

Inconsistency can take multiple forms, including:  Read more

June 10, 2015

Hadoop generalities

Occasionally I talk with an astute reporter — there are still a few left :) — and get led toward angles I hadn’t considered before, or at least hadn’t written up. A blog post may then ensue. This is one such post.

There is a group of questions going around that includes:

To a first approximation, my responses are:  Read more

May 26, 2015

IT-centric notes on the future of health care

It’s difficult to project the rate of IT change in health care, because:

Timing aside, it is clear that health care change will be drastic. The IT part of that starts with vastly comprehensive electronic health records, which will be accessible (in part or whole as the case may be) by patients, care givers, care payers and researchers alike. I expect elements of such records to include:

These vastly greater amounts of data cited above will allow for greatly changed analytics.
Read more

May 20, 2015

MemSQL 4.0

I talked with my clients at MemSQL about the release of MemSQL 4.0. Let’s start with the reminders:

The main new aspects of MemSQL 4.0 are:

There’s also a new free MemSQL “Community Edition”. MemSQL hopes you’ll experiment with this but not use it in production. And MemSQL pricing is now wholly based on RAM usage, so the column store is quasi-free from a licensing standpoint is as well.

Read more

May 13, 2015

Notes on analytic technology, May 13, 2015

1. There are multiple ways in which analytics is inherently modular. For example:

Also, analytics is inherently iterative.

If I’m right that analytics is or at least should be modular and iterative, it’s easy to see why people hate multi-year data warehouse creation projects. Perhaps it’s also easy to see why I like the idea of schema-on-need.

2. In 2011, I wrote, in the context of agile predictive analytics, that

… the “business analyst” role should be expanded beyond BI and planning to include lightweight predictive analytics as well.

I gather that a similar point is at the heart of Gartner’s new term citizen data scientist. I am told that the term resonates with at least some enterprises.  Read more

May 2, 2015

Notes, links and comments, May 2, 2015

I’m going to be out-of-sorts this week, due to a colonoscopy. (Between the prep, the procedure, and the recovery, that’s a multi-day disablement.) In the interim, here’s a collection of links, quick comments and the like.

1. Are you an engineer considering a start-up? This post is for you. It’s based on my long experience in and around such scenarios, and includes a section on “Deadly yet common mistakes”.

2. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the business model at my clients Databricks. Indeed, my own understanding of Databricks’ on-premises business has changed recently. There are no changes in my beliefs that:

However, I now get the impression that revenue from such relationships is a bigger deal to Databricks than I previously thought.

Databricks, by the way, has grown to >50 people.

3. DJ Patil and Ruslan Belkin apparently had a great session on lessons learned, covering a lot of ground. Many of the points are worth reading, but one in particular echoed something I’m hearing lots of places — “Data is super messy, and data cleanup will always be literally 80% of the work.” Actually, I’d replace the “always” by something like “very often”, and even that mainly for newish warehouses, data marts or datasets. But directionally the comment makes a whole lot of sense.

Read more

March 5, 2015

Cask and CDAP

For starters:


So far as I can tell:

Read more

February 22, 2015

Data models

7-10 years ago, I repeatedly argued the viewpoints:

Since then, however:

So it’s probably best to revisit all that in a somewhat organized way.

Read more

February 1, 2015

Information technology for personal safety

There are numerous ways that technology, now or in the future, can significantly improve personal safety. Three of the biggest areas of application are or will be:

Implications will be dramatic for numerous industries and government activities, including but not limited to law enforcement, automotive manufacturing, infrastructure/construction, health care and insurance. Further, these technologies create a near-certainty that individuals’ movements and status will be electronically monitored in fine detail. Hence their development and eventual deployment constitutes a ticking clock toward a deadline for society deciding what to do about personal privacy.

Theoretically, humans aren’t the only potential kind of tyrants. Science fiction author Jack Williamson postulated a depressing nanny-technology in With Folded Hands, the idea for which was later borrowed by the humorous Star Trek episode I, Mudd.

Of these three areas, crime prevention is the furthest along; in particular, sidewalk cameras, license plate cameras and internet snooping are widely deployed around the world. So let’s consider the other two.

Vehicle accident prevention

Read more

January 27, 2015

Soft robots, Part 2 — implications

What will soft, mobile robots be able to do that previous generations cannot? A lot. But I’m particularly intrigued by two large categories:

There are still many things that are hard for humans to keep in good working order, including:

Sometimes the issue is (hopefully minor) repairs. Sometimes it’s cleaning or lubrication. In some cases one might want to upgrade a structure with fixed sensors, and the “repair” is mainly putting those sensors in place. In all these cases, it seems that soft robots could eventually offer a solution. Further examples, I’m sure, could be found in factories, mines, or farms.

Of course, if there’s a maintenance/repair need, inspection is at least part of the challenge; in some cases it’s almost the whole thing. And so this technology will help lead us toward the point that substantially all major objects will be associated with consistent flows of data. Opportunities for data analysis will abound.

Read more

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