Machine Learning

Machine Learning Evaluation Measures

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When developing machine learning models there is a long list of possible evaluation measures. On one hand this can be good as it gives us lots of insights into the models and be able to select the best model that meets the requirements. (BTW this is different to choosing the best model based on the evaluation measures!). On the other hand it can be very confusing what all of these mean as there can appear to be so many of them.  In this post I’ll look at some of these evolution measures.

I’m not going to go into the basic set of evaluation measures that come from the typical use of the Confusion Matrix, including True/False Positives, True/False Negatives, Accuracy, Miss-classification rate, Precision, Recall, Sensitivity and F1 score.

The following evaluation measures will be discussed:

  • R-Squared (R2)
  • Mean Squared Error (MSE)
  • Sum of Squared Error (SSE)
  • Root Mean Square (RMSE)

R-Squared (R²)

R-squared measures how well your data fits a regression line. It measures the variation of the predicted values, from the model, from that of the actual value. It is typically given as a percentage or in the range of Zero to One (although you can have negative values). It is also known as Coefficient of Determination. The higher the value for R² the better.

R² is always between 0 and 100%:

  • 0% indicates that the model explains none of the variability of the response data around its mean.
  • 100% indicates that the model explains all the variability of the response data around its mean.

r2

But R² cannot determine whether the coefficient estimates and predictions are biased

Mean Squared Error (MSE)

MSE  measures average squared error of our predictions. For each point, it calculates square difference between the predictions and the target and then average those values. The higher this value, the worse the model is.

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The larger the number the larger the error. Error in this case means the difference between the observed values and the predicted values. Square each difference, this ensures negative and positive values do not cancel each other out.

Sum of Squared Error (SSE)

SSE is the sum of the squared differences between each observation and its group’s mean.  It measures the overall difference between your data and the values predicted by your estimation model.

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Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) 

RMSE is just the square root of MSE. The square root is introduced to make scale of the errors to be the same as the scale of targets. As the square root of a variance, RMSE can be interpreted as the standard deviation of the unexplained variance. Lower values of RMSE indicate better fit. RMSE is a good measure of how accurately the model predicts the response.

 

 

Applying a Machine Learning Model in OAC

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There are a number of different tools and languages available for machine learning projects. One such tool is Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC).  Check out my article for Oracle Magazine that takes you through the steps of using OAC to create a Machine Learning workflow/dataflow.

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Oracle Analytics Cloud provides a single unified solution for analyzing data and delivering analytics solutions to businesses. Additionally, it provides functionality for processing data, allowing for data transformations, data cleaning, and data integration. Oracle Analytics Cloud also enables you to build a machine learning workflow, from loading, cleaning, and transforming data and creating a machine learning model to evaluating the model and applying it to new data—without the need to write a line of code. My Oracle Magazine article takes you through the various tasks for using Oracle Analytics Cloud to build a machine learning workflow.

That article covers the various steps with creating a machine learning model. This post will bring you through the steps of using that model to score/label new data.

In the Data Flows screen (accessed via Data->Data Flows) click on Create. We are going to create a new Data Flow to process the scoring/labeling of new data.

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Select Data Flow from the pop-up menu. The ‘Add Data Set’ window will open listing your available data sets. In my example, I’m going to use the same data set that I used in the Oracle Magazine article to build the model.  Click on the data set and then click on the Add button.

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The initial Data Flow will be created with the node for the Data Set. The screen will display all the attributes for the data set and from this you can select what attributes to include or remove. For example, if you want a subset of the attributes to be used as input to the machine learning model, you can select these attributes at this stage. These can be adjusted at a later stages, but the data flow will need to be re-run to pick up these changes.

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Next step is to create the Apply Model node. To add this to the data flow click on the small plus symbol to the right of the Data Node. This will pop open a window from which you will need to select the Apply Model.

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A pop-up window will appear listing the various machine learning models that exist in your OAC environment. Select the model you want to use and click the Ok button.

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The next node to add to the data flow is to save the results/outputs from the Apply Model node. Click on the small plus icon to the right of the Apply Model node and select Save Results from the popup window.

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We now have a completed data flow. But before you finish edit the Save Data node to give a name for the Save Data Set, and you can edit what attributes/features you want in the result set.

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You can now save and run the Data Flow, and view the outputs from applying the machine learning model. The saved data set results can be viewed in the Data menu.

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Always watching, always listening. Be careful with your data

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The saying ‘Big Brother is Watching’ has been around a long time and typically gets associated with government organisations. But over the past few years we have a few new Big Brothers appearing. These are in the form of Google and Facebook and a few others.

These companies gather lots and lots. Some companies gather enormous amounts of data. This data will include details of your interactions with the companies through various websites, applications, etc. But some are gathering data in ways that you might not be aware. For example, take this following video. Data is being gathered about what you do and where you go even if you have disconnected your phone.

Did you know this kind of data was being gathered about you?

Just think of what they could be doing with that data, that data you didn’t know they were gathering about you. Companies like these generate huge amounts of income from selling advertisements and the more data they have about individuals the more the can understand what they might be interested. The generate customer profiles and sell expensive advertising based on having these very detailed customer profiles.

But it doesn’t stop there. Recently Google bought Fitbit. Just think about what they can do now. Combining their existing profiles of you as a person with you activities throughout every day, week and month. Just think about how various health and insurance companies would love to have this data. Yes they would and companies like Google would be able to charge these companies even more money for this level of detail on individuals/customers.

But it doesn’t stop there. There have been lots of reports of various apps sharing health and other related data with various companies, without their customers being aware this is happening.

What about Google Assistant? In a recent article by MIT Technology Review title Inside Amazon’s plan for Alexa to run your entire life, they discuss how Alexa can be used to control virtually everything. In this article Alexa’s cheif scientist say “plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.”  When combined with other products this will allow “these new products let Alexa listen to and log data about a dramatically larger portion of your life“.

Just imagine if Google did the same with their Google Assistant!  Big Brother isn’t just Watching, they are also Listening!

There has been some recent report of Google looking to get into Banking by offering checking accounts. The project, code-named Cache, is due to launch in 2020. Google has partnered with Citigroup and a credit union at Stanford University, which will administer the accounts. Users will be able to access their accounts through Google’s digital payment platform, Google Pay.

And there are the reports of Google having access to the health records of over 50 million people. In addition to this, Google has signed a deal with Ascension, the second-largest hospital system in the US, to collect and analyze millions of Americans’ personal health data. Ascension operates in 150 hospitals in 21 states.

What if they also had access to your banking details and spending habits? Google is looking at different options to extend financial products from the google pay into more main stream banking. There has been some recent report of them looking at offering current accounts.

I won’t go discussing their attempts at Ethics and their various (failed) attempts at establishing and Ethics Advisory Board. This has been well documented elsewhere.

Things are getting a bit scary and the saying ‘Big Brother is Watching You’, is very, very true.

In the ever increasing connected world, all of us have a responsibility to know what data companies are gathering on us. We need to decide how comfortable we are with this and if you aren’t then you need to take steps to ensure you protect yourself. Maybe part of this protection requires us to become less connected, stop using some apps, turn off more notification, turn off updates, turn off tracking, etc

While taking each product or offering individually, it may seem ok to us for Google and other companies to offer such services and to analyze our data to provide a better service. But for most people the issues arise when each of these products start to be combined. By doing this they get to have greater access and understanding our our data and our behaviors. What role does (digital) ethics play in all of this? This is something for the company and the employees to decide where things should stop. But when/how do you decide this? when do you/they know things have gone too far? how can you undo some of this work to go back to an acceptable level? what is an acceptable level and how do you define this?

As yo can see there are lots of things to consider and a vital component is the role of (digital) ethics. All organizations who process and analyze data need to have an ethics board and ethics needs to be a core part of every project. To support this everyone needs more training and awareness of ethics and what is acceptable or not.

Demographics vs Psychographics for Machine Learning

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When preparing data for data science, data mining or machine learning projects you will create a data set that describes the various characteristics of the subject or case record. Each attribute will contain some descriptive information about the subject and is related to the target variable in some way.

In addition to these attributes, the data set will be enriched with various other internal/external data to complete the data set.

Some of the attributes in the data set can be grouped under the heading of Demographics. Demographic data contains attributes that explain or describe the person or event each case record is focused on. For example, if the subject of the case record is based on Customer data, this is the “Who” the demographic data (and features/attributes) will be about. Examples of demographic data include:

  • Age range
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Household income
  • Occupation
  • Educational level

These features/attributes are typically readily available within your data sources and if they aren’t then these name be available from a purchased data set.

Additional feature engineering methods are used to generate new features/attributes that express meaning is different ways. This can be done by combining features in different ways, binning, dimensionality reduction, discretization, various data transformations, etc. The list can go on.

The aim of all of this is to enrich the data set to include more descriptive data about the subject. This enriched data set will then be used by the machine learning algorithms to find the hidden patterns in the data. The richer and descriptive the data set is the greater the likelihood of the algorithms in detecting the various relationships between the features and their values. These relationships will then be included in the created/generated model.

Another approach to consider when creating and enriching your data set is move beyond the descriptive features typically associated with Demographic data, to include Pyschographic data.

Psychographic data is a variation on demographic data where the feature are about describing the habits of the subject or customer.  Demographics focus on the “who” while psycographics focus on the “why”. For example, a common problem with data sets is that they describe subjects/people who have things in common. In such scenarios we want to understand them at a deeper level. Psycographics allows us to do this. Examples of Psycographics include:

  • Lifestyle activities
  • Evening activities
  • Purchasing interests – quality over economy,  how environmentally concerned are you
  • How happy are you with work, family, etc
  • Social activities and changes in these
  • What attitudes you have for certain topic areas
  • What are your principles and beliefs

The above gives a far deeper insight into the subject/person and helps to differentiate each subject/person from each other, when there is a high similarity between all subjects in the data set. For example, demographic information might tell you something about a person’s age, but psychographic information will tell you that the person is just starting a family and is in the market for baby products.

I’ll close with this. Consider the various types of data gathering that companies like Google, Facebook, etc perform. They gather lots of different types of data about individuals. This allows them to build up a complete and extensive profile of all activities for individuals. They can use this to deliver more accurate marketing and advertising. For example, Google gathers data about what places to visit throughout a data, they gather all your search results, and lots of other activities. They can do a lot with this data. but now they own Fitbit. Think about what they can do with that data and particularly when combined with all the other data they have about you. What if they had access to your medical records too!  Go Google this ! You will find articles about them now having access to your health records. Again combine all of the data from these different data sources. How valuable is that data?

 

Machine Learning on Mobile Devices

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You: What? You can’t be serious?  Machine Learning on Mobile Devices?

Me: The simple answer is ‘Yes you can!”

You: But, what about all the complex data processing, CPU or GPU, and everything else that is needed for machine learning?

Me: Yes you are correct, those things might not be needed. What’s the answer to everything in IT?

You: It Depends ?

Me: Exactly. Yes It Depends on what you are doing. In most cases you don’t need large amounts of machine processing power to do machine learning. Except if you are doing image processing. Then you do need a bit of power to support that work.

You: But how can a mobile device be used for machine learning?

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Me: It Depends! 🙂  It depends on what you are doing. Most of the data processing power needed is for creating the models. That is what most people talk about. Very few people talk about the deployment of machine learning. Deployment, as in, using the machine learning models in your applications.

You: But why mobile devices? That sounds a bit silly?

Me: It does a bit. But when you think about it, how much do you use your mobile phone and tablet?  Where else have you seen mobile devices being used?

You: I use these all the time, to do nearly everything. Just like everyone else I know.

Me: Exactly!  and where else have you seen mobile devices being used?

You: Everywhere! hotels, bars, shops, hospitals, everywhere!

Me: Exactly. And it kind of makes sense to have machine learning scoring done at the point of capture of the data and not some hours or days or weeks later in some data warehouse or something else.

You: But what about the processing power of these devices. They aren’t powerful enough to run the machine learning models? Or are they?

Me: What is a machine learning model? In a simple way it is a mathematical formula of the data that calculates a particular outcome. Something that is a bit more complicated than using a sum function.  Could a mobile device do that easily?

You: Yes. That should be really easy and fast for mobile devices? But machine learning is complex. People keep telling me how complex it is and how difficult it is!

Me: True it can be, but for most problems it can be as simple as writing a few lines of code to create a model. 3-4 lines of code in some languages. But the applying of the the machine learning model can be a simple task (maybe 1 line of code), although some simple data formatting might be needed, but that is a simple task too.

You: So, how can a machine learning model be run on a mobile device?

Me: Programmers write code to run applications on mobile devices. This code can be extended to include the machine learning model. This can be used to score or label the data or do some other processing. A few lines of code.  A good alternative is to create a web service to all the remove scoring of the data.

You: The programming languages used for mobile development are a bit different to most other applications. Surely those mobile device languages don’t support machine learning.

Me: You’d be surprised by what’s available.

You: OK, What languages can I try? Where can I get started?

Me: Check out Firebase ML Kit, Apple CoreML and TensorFlow Lite. Those should be more than enough for you to get started with. There are a few others. But start with those.

You. Brilliant, thank you Brendan. I’ll let you know how I get on with those.

 

 

Examples of Machine Learning with Facial Recognition

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In a previous blog post I gave some examples of how facial images recognition and videos are being used in our daily lives. In this post I want to extend this with some additional examples. There are ethical issues around this and in some of these examples their usage has stopped. What is also interesting is the reaction on various social media channels about this. People don’t like it and and happen that some of these have stopped.

But how widespread is this technology? Based on these known examples, and this list is by no means anywhere near complete, but gives an indication of the degree of it’s deployment and how widespread it is.

Dubai is using facial recognition to measure customer satisfaction at four of the Roads and Transport Authority Customer Happiness Centers. They analyze the faces of their customers and rank their level of happiness. They can use this to generate alerts when the happiness levels falls below certain levels.

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Various department stores are using facial recognition throughout the stores and at checkout. These are being used to delivery personalized adverts to users on either in-store screen or on personalized screens on the shopping trolley. And can be used to verify a person’s age if they are buying alcohol or other products. Tesco’s have previously used face-scanning cameras at tills in petrol stations to target advertisements at customers depending on their age and approximate age.

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Some retail stores are using ML to monitor you, monitor what items you pick up and what you pay for at the checkout, identifying any differences and what steps to take next.

In a slight variation of facial recognition, some stores are using similar technology to monitor stock levels, monitor how people interact with different products (e.g pick up one product and then relate it with a similar product), and optimized location of products. Walmart has been a learner in the are of AI and Machine Learning in the retail section for some time now.

The New York Metropolitan Transport Authority has been using facial capture and recognition at several site across the city. Their proof of concept location was at the Robert F Kennedy Bridge. The company supplying the technology claimed 80% accuracy at predicting the person, through a widescreen while the car was traveling at low speed. These images can then be matched against government databases, such as driver license authorities, police databases and terrorist databases. The problem with this project was that it did not achieve one single positive match (within acceptable parameters) during the initial period of the project.

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There are some reports that similar technology is being use on the New York Subway system in Time Square to help with identifying fare dodgers.

How about using facial recognition at boarding gates for your new flight instead of showing your passport or other official photo id. JetBlue and other airlines are now using this technology. Some airports have been using this for many many years.

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San Francisco City government took steps in May 2019 to ban the use of facial recognition across all city functions. Other cities like Oakland and Sommerville in Massachusetts have implemented similar bans with other cities likely to follow. But it doesn’t ban the use by private companies.

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What about using this technology to automatically monitor and manage staff. Manage staff, as in to decide who should be fired and who should be reallocated elsewhere. It is reported that Amazon is using facial and other recognition systems to monitor staff productivity in their warehouses.

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A point I highlighted in my previous post was how are these systems/applications able to get enough images as training samples for their models. This is considering that most of the able systems/applications say they don’t keep any of the images they capture.

How many of us take pictures and post them on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. By doing this, you are making those images available to these companies to training their machine learning model. To do this they scrap the images for these sites and then have to manually label them with descriptive information. It is a combination of the image and descriptive information that is used by the machine learning algorithms to learn and build a model that suits their needs. See the MIT Technology Review article for more details and example on this topic.

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There are also reports of some mobile phone apps that turn on your mobile phone camera. The apps will detect if the phone is possibly mounted on the dashboard of a car, and then takes pictures of the inside of the car and also pictures of where you are driving. Similar reports exists about many apps and voice activated devices.

So be careful what you post on social media or anywhere else online, and be careful of what apps you have on your mobile phone!

There is a general backlash to the use of this technology, and with more people becoming aware of what is happening, we need to more aware of what when and where this technology is being used.

Machine Learning on Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse

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Last week I wrote a blog post about how long it took to create machine learning models on Oracle Database Cloud service. There was some impressive results and some surprising results too.

I decided to try out the exact same tests, using the exact same data on the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud service (ADW).

When creating the ADW service I took the basic configuration and didn’t change anything. The inbuilt machine learning for the Autonomous service will magically workout my needs and make the necessary adjustments, Right? It can handle any data volume and any data processing requirements, Right?

Here are the results.

ml_adwc

* You will notice that there is no time given for creating a SVM model for the 10M record data set. After waiting for 4 hours I got bored and gave up waiting (I actually did this three time to make sure it wasn’t a once off)

[I also had a 50M record data set. I just didn’t waste time trying that.]

[Neural Networks algorithm hasn’t been ported onto ADW at this point in time]

If you look back at the results from using the DBaaS you will see it was significantly quicker than the ADW. (for some it would be quicker using Python on my laptop)

Before you believe the hype, go test it yourself and make sure it measures up.

I re-ran my test cases over a number of days to see if the machine learning aspect of the Autonomous kicked in to learn from the processing and make any performance improvements. Sadly the results were basically the same or slightly slower. Disappointing.

When some tells you, you should be using this, ask them have they actually used and tested it themselves. And more importantly, don’t believe them. Go test it yourself.