Clustering in R

Clustering is a useful technique for exploring your data. It groups records into clusters based on similar features. It’s also a key technique of unsupervised learning. The following is a simple example in R where I plotted the clusters and centroids.

kmeans() car clusters with centroids

The example uses the mtcars dataset built into R, which contains auto data extracted from Motor Trend Magazine in 1973-1974.

Clustering is done with the kmeans() function. Note that the graph is 2-dimensional, and I cluster by 2 features, but you could cluster by more features and project down to a 2-dimensional plane.

Feel free to make suggestions:

Installing pymc on OS X using homebrew

I’ve been working through the following book on Bayesian methods with an emphasis on the pymc library:

However, pymc installation on OS X can be a bit of a pain. The issues comes down to fortran… I know. The version of gfortran in newer gcc implementations doesn’t work well with the pymc build, you need gfortran 4.2, as provided orignally by apple. Homebrew has a package for this.

I dealt with this before, but had problems again after upgrading to Sierra. So this time, I thought I’d document the steps so I don’t have this problem again. Let me know if there are any steps that you feel need added as you try this.

The Math of Machine Learning

Matrix multiplication diagram
(hover for CC attribution)

One of the challenges of data science in general is that it is a multi-disciplinary field. For any given problem, you may need skills in data extraction, data transformation, data cleaning, math, statistics, software engineering, data visualization, and the domain. And that list likely isn’t inclusive.

One of the first questions when it comes to machine learning in specific, is “how much math do I need to know?”

This is where I would recommend you start, to get the most value for your time:

  • Matrix Multiplication (Subject: Linear Algebra)
  • Probability (Subject: Statistics)
  • Normal Distributions (Subject: Statistics)
  • Bayes Theorem (Subject: Statistics)
  • Linear Regression (Subject: Statistics)

Of course you will run across other math needs, but I think the above list represents the foundation.

If you need places to get started with those topics, check out Kahn Academy, Coursera, or your location library.

For more on machine learning, check out other posts such as ML in R, Linear Algebra in R, and ML w/XGBoost.