It’s easier then you think

A phrase I often hear is “security is everyone’s responsibility” but I notice that data scientists are frequently so focused on the vast number of skills that they need to know, that security goes ignored. Besides having many responsibilities, I believe that security seems daunting and appears to require lots of software engineering skill. In reality, it’s fairly easy to implement the lowest level of security into your software. I’d recommend following Charles Nwatu’s (a leader in security at Netflix and formerly StitchFix) principle “do less better.” To me, this means successfully implementing low level security is better than failing…

A Weekend Challenge to Myself

What is CartPole?

CartPole is an OpenAI environment problem that seeks to test your ability to program a solution to balance a pole on attached to a cart, pictured below. If the pole moves more than 15 degrees from vertical you lose, and if the cart moves of the screen you lose. I only have theoretical knowledge of reinforcement learning, so I tried to see if I could come up with a solution without googling. Here’s what I did.

A sample beginning of CartPole

State and Action

At every time step you must push the cart slightly to the left or slightly to right. You must pick one of these two…

How MOOCs Boost Your SEO

I hear all the time MOOCs won’t make you a data scientist, but they actually can have a hand in helping you to get an interview because they enhance the SEO (search engine optimization) of your LinkedIn profile. When a recruiter looks for a candidate they frequently make use of the LinkedIn search bar for a job title, filter down to just people and possibly further by location.

When searching for a data scientist, this returns about 1 million results on LinkedIn. Even if you’re already a data scientist, if you’re hoping to be found by this method, your chances…

Extracting Value From Your Text Data

A lot of the focus of ML education is around supervised learning — predicting a value or classification — which is all well and good until you begin to work with real world data sets. Getting a hold of tabular data in a consistent format can take more time than the creation of your model. That is very apparent when working with text data, since a lot of text you may be interested in is created by people that do not care about quality or format. The rate that unstructured data is being generated is increasing at faster rate than…

Deployment can and should be easy

To put it frankly, if you can’t get your machine learning models out of a notebook, it’s probably not going to get used. This article should help you create a deployment of your model as quickly as possible, so that you can infuse your models with business processes. This is an important skill to have since it means you won’t be relying on a software engineer/developer to assist you.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

To do this we will use Watson Machine Learning, and a Jupyter Notebook. I will assume you already have Anaconda or another environment that can run notebooks. …

What Making a Video Game Taught Me About Teaching Myself

One of my roommates in college was a computer science major that had an internship every summer at Google or another Alphabet company. The effect that had on me was I developed a strong case of imposter syndrome. In turn the imposter syndrome lead me to carving out lots of time to get better as a programmer, despite being an economics and statistics double major. As someone that is self taught (and by self taught I mean I really had hundreds of teachers on YouTube, LinkedIn Learning, Medium, and Stack Overflow), I’ve come to realize that there are some common…

A simple example demonstrates the basic vocabulary of RL well.

Instructive and Evaluative Feedback

In supervised learning, your algorithm/model gets instructive feedback. This means it is instructed what the correct choice it should have made was, it then updates itself to diminish its error and make its predictions more accurate. In reinforcement learning, you give an algorithm evaluative feedback. This tells your algorithm how good an action was, but not what the best action was. How good the action was is known as reward. The RL algorithm goes through a simulation where it learns how to maximize this reward.

The Best Application for RL

The best applications of RL are when you can simulate the environment it operates in…

An Intro to Text Analytics that can Increase Your Article Popularity

If you’ve written data science articles or are trying to get started, finding the most popular topics is a big help in getting your articles read. Below are the steps to easily determine what these topics are using R and the results of the analysis. This article can also serve as an intro to using an API, and doing some basic text processing in R. Feel free to alter this code to do other Twitter analyses and skip to the end if you’re only interested in the results.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Twitter API

If you don’t have a twitter account, you need to make one…

Focusing on engineering skills

There are many types of data scientists, with varying skillets and responsibilities. In my opinion, the most important groups you can segment data scientists into are those who write code used in production, and those who do reporting.


For a lack of a better term, I called the second group analysts. This does not mean they are not data scientists, people in these roles benefit from knowing machine learning, the ins and outs of data, and general programming skills. …

If you are giving an analytical presentation it is a good idea to replace PowerPoint with presentations created with R Markdown for these 3 reasons.

  1. Interactivity: R Markdown gives you the ability to generate interactive slides. Having interactive charts is much more interesting and should generate more engagement from those you are presenting to.
  2. Documentation: The code you wrote to generate your analysis can be stored in the slides (it can be turned on/off) and it serves as documentation of your analysis methods. …

Brandon Walker

Data Scientist at IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software

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