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How i became a data scientist

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Short and (hopefully) humorous presentation I gave at http://www.odsc.com/.

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How i became a data scientist

  1. 1. How I became a Data Scientist Owen Zhang
  2. 2. Let’s tell a story ● Just to prove that I can talk other things than kaggle ● Today’s goal, as always, is to entertain, not enlighten. ● Apologize for presuming myself to be “experter data scientist”.
  3. 3. What It Takes to be a Good Data Scientist ● Domain knowledge ● Coding skills ● Math/Stats But maybe equally (or even more) important: ● Ask the right question ● Tell a good story
  4. 4. How Much Math(/Stats) is Required? ● Math is an extremely broad field ● Personally I am good at numerical problems but bad at algebra ● Guestimate has always been my strength vs “precise answer” ● Having good intuition is more helpful than being able to prove theorems
  5. 5. Majored in Engineering but... Always wanted to be a “Data Scientist” ● Unfortunately that didn’t exist at that time Three useful things learned in college ● Linear algebra ● Programming ● Teamwork (a.k.a. party with your friends)
  6. 6. Even after Y2K, there were plenty of IT jobs ● By chance I got a job as software developer ● By chance it was in insurance ○ Arguably insurance has the best data to practice data science on ○ Very noisy ○ High variety ○ Not too small and not too big
  7. 7. The Most Useful Things Learned Doing IT ● It is NOT how to program! ○ My coding skill probably degenerated ● Be interested in learning the domain ○ I learned my “domain expertise” here ● Speak the “business language” ○ Terminology is very important ● How to talk to IT folks
  8. 8. What to do when bored with your job? ● Career switch! ● The following approach isn’t recommended: Wanna be a chef? I’ve never cooked before but you can trust me
  9. 9. Lesson learned in switching careers ● It is counter productive to talk about how you would be good at something that you haven’t done before ● Use cases / stories ● Find the right mentor/sponsor
  10. 10. Don’t Laugh, but Almost Became an Actuary ● Why? ○ Actuaries were doing “data science” way before “data scientist” became a job title ○ My wife is an actuary ○ I am good at taking exams ● Why not? ○ Data Science came along before I finished all the exams
  11. 11. Finally made it to Data Science IT Developer
  12. 12. Finally made it to Data Science IT Developer Data Scientist
  13. 13. Became “Expert Data Scientist” ● It is both easy and hard to transform from “some IT guy who wants to be a (predictive) modeler” to “expert data scientist” ○ The trick is to get new colleagues ● At that time it was called “predictive modeler” ● “Legitimized” by Kaggle Kaggle
  14. 14. What I Learned being a “Practitioner” ● The most important insight: ○ Asking the right question is more important than getting the perfect answer ● The right “form” of question: ○ What will/can you do differently if you have a prediction of [????]
  15. 15. If We Finish here... ● Then we would have made a very common mistake in data analysis ○ All we have is an anecdote ● Enemies and friends of Data Science ○ “Anecdotal” vs “general” ○ “Co-occurrence” vs “correlation” ○ “Correlation” vs “causality”
  16. 16. An Example Owen was good at math and became a data scientist
  17. 17. An Example Owen was good at math and became a data scientist (1000 people) were good at math and became data scientists
  18. 18. An Example Good@Math Became Data Scientist Yes No %Became DS Yes 1,000 99,000 1% No 10,000 90,000 10% %Good@Math 9% 52% Owen was good at math and became a data scientist (1000 people) were good at math and became data scientists
  19. 19. An Example Good@Math Became Data Scientist Yes No %Became DS Yes 1,000 9,000 10% No 1,000 99,000 1% %Good@Math 50% 8.3% Owen was good at math and became a data scientist (1000 people) were good at math and became data scientists
  20. 20. An Example ● We found something! ○ People who are good at math has 10 times better chance to become Data Scientist! ● Is this good enough? Depending on your use case: ○ Probably good enough to make up some math interview questions for DS ○ But not necessarily good enough to say “let’s teach kids more math so that more of them become data scientists”
  21. 21. That’s All ● Questions? ● Office hour at 1:30pm
  • ruben.diaz

    Dec. 21, 2017
  • CarlosPavia

    Nov. 18, 2017
  • andrewolton

    Jun. 20, 2017
  • SzymonDrejewicz

    Mar. 20, 2017
  • linekin

    Jan. 20, 2017
  • akbarboghani

    Dec. 2, 2016

Short and (hopefully) humorous presentation I gave at http://www.odsc.com/.

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