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# What is Statistical Data Mining?

Article Details
• Written By: S.R. Morris-Gray
• Edited By: J.T. Gale
2003-2019
Conjecture Corporation
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Statistical data mining, also known as knowledge or data discovery, is a computerized method of collecting and analyzing information. The data-mining tool takes data and categorizes the information to discover patterns or correlations that can be used in important applications, such as medicine, computer programming, business promotion, and robotic design. Statistical data mining techniques use complex mathematics and complicated statistical processes to create an analysis.

Data mining involves five major steps. The first data mining application collects statistical data and places the information in a warehouse-type program. Next, the data in the warehouse is organized and creates a management system. The next step creates a way to access the managed data. Then, the fourth step develops software to analyze the data, also known as data mining regression, while the final step facilitates using or interpreting the statistical data in a practical way.

Generally, data mining techniques integrate analytical and transaction data systems. Analytical software sorts through both types of data systems using open-ended user questions. Open-ended questions allow countless answers so programmers are not influencing the results of the sorting. Programmers create lists of questions to assist in categorizing the information using an overall focus.

Sorting is then based on developing classes and clusters of data, associations found in the data, and attempts to define patterns and trends based on the associations. For example, Google collects information on users' purchasing habits to assist in placing online advertising. Open-ended questions used to sort this buyer data focus on buying preferences or viewing habits of Internet users.

Computer scientists and programmers focus on the analysis of the statistical data that is collected. Creation of decision trees, artificial neural networks, nearest neighbor method, rule induction, data visualization, and genetic algorithms all use the statistically-mined data. These classification systems assist in interpreting the associations discovered by the analytical data programs. Statistical data mining involves small projects that can be done on a small scale on a home computer, but most data mining association sets are so large and the data mining regression so complicated that they require a supercomputer or a network of high-speed computers.

Statistical data mining collects three general types of data, including operational data, non-operational data, and meta data. In a clothing store, operational data is basic data used to run the business, such as accounting, sales, and inventory control. Non-operational data, which is indirectly related to the business, includes estimates of future sales and general information about the national clothing market. Meta data concerns the data itself. A program using meta data might sort store customers into classifications based on gender or geographic location of the clothing buyers or the customers favorite color, if that data was collected.

A data mining application can be extremely sophisticated and the statistical data mining tool may have widespread practical applications. The study of disease outbreaks is one example. A 2000 data mining project analyzed the disease outbreak of cryptosporidium in Ontario, Canada to determine the causes of the increase in disease cases. The results of the data mining assisted in linking the bacteria outbreak to local water conditions and the lack of proper municipal water treatment. A field called "biosurveillance" uses epidemiological data mining to identify outbreaks of a single disease.

Computer programmers and designers also employ the study of probability and statistical data analysis to develop machines and computer programs. The Google Internet search engine was designed using statistical data mining. Google continues to collect and use data mining to create program updates and applications.