Saturday, March 26, 2011

Automated model-building – science fiction or reality?

How many times we have all heard before, some unscrupulous software vendors of analytical software saying something like.. “All you need to do is to press a few buttons on our analytical software and models will be built automatically, and you just sit back and sip your coffee”?
 I used to warn companies of such exaggerated claims.
Well, with the advent of SAS Institute Rapid Predictive Modeler (RPM)  -  believe it or not - this is all very much reality.  And the reason behind creating automated modeling tool is to allow non-technical audiences, with little statistical knowledge to build the models on a fly.
So, they would literally press a few buttons within an environment that are familiar, and this tool would, build models elsewhere and then return results back into the original environment.
The user would be able to choose what types of models are needed in terms of complexity, and choices are among the basic, intermediate and advanced options. They could also choose which components of the output are to be returned. 
But, RPM is not just for non-technical (read: statistical) users.  One of the options is to save the model in the modeling environment (Enterprise Miner), so user can access modeling diagram and use it for benchmarking,  validation, and of course - to fasten their own search for optimal models. For example - I have used RPM to build advanced modeling diagram with multiple transformations, variable selection and modeling options within a few minutes.  Building same type of advanced model in my usual way of building models would take my whole day.
So, if you wonder about the costs of this software, the good news is that it comes for free provided you have already access to the latest version of SAS's data mining software – Enterprise Miner 6.2. Rest is easy!

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