Big Data Analytics - Methodology


In terms of methodology, big data analytics differs significantly from the traditional statistical approach of experimental design. Analytics starts with data. Normally we model the data in a way to explain a response. The objectives of this approach is to predict the response behavior or understand how the input variables relate to a response. Normally in statistical experimental designs, an experiment is developed and data is retrieved as a result. This allows to generate data in a way that can be used by a statistical model, where certain assumptions hold such as independence, normality, and randomization.

In big data analytics, we are presented with the data. We cannot design an experiment that fulfills our favorite statistical model. In large-scale applications of analytics, a large amount of work (normally 80% of the effort) is needed just for cleaning the data, so it can be used by a machine learning model.

We don’t have a unique methodology to follow in real large-scale applications. Normally once the business problem is defined, a research stage is needed to design the methodology to be used. However general guidelines are relevant to be mentioned and apply to almost all problems.

One of the most important tasks in big data analytics is statistical modeling, meaning supervised and unsupervised classification or regression problems. Once the data is cleaned and preprocessed, available for modeling, care should be taken in evaluating different models with reasonable loss metrics and then once the model is implemented, further evaluation and results should be reported. A common pitfall in predictive modeling is to just implement the model and never measure its performance.