Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Stochastic Processes

I'm a big believer in online classes to brush up old skills or develop new ones.  I've taken several over the past few years and while there are some classes that don't live up to the expectations, I found one that has been a pretty fun course so far.

It's called Stochastic Processes: Data Analysis and Computer Simulation from Kyoto University in Japan.  Here's a link to the class on Edx.  It is self paced and wraps up Aug 2, 2018.  It is divided into 6 weeks of classes and each week is expected to take 2-3 hours per week to complete.

I have spent MUCH more than that simply wiping the rust off of my physics classes from college.  Don't get me wrong - I love the experience of going back to Albert Einstein's PhD thesis on Brownian Motion to help with that chapter.  I understood just enough of his paper to make the simulation more understandable, and having an excuse to read anything by Einstein is just icing on the cake.

And there has been a lot of that.  I had to keep looking up mathematical concepts I haven't used in a long time (Dirac Delta equation, for instance).  Again, this was worthwhile.

If you get a chance and know Python and meet the other requirements, this may be an interesting class to take.  Plus, to audit the class is free, and you can't beat that price!

Comments, questions, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I'm waiting for this book about using Tableau with Matlab

Last week I wrote a bit about the Matlab support with Tableau.  Our team also owns R support (it is all built on a REST API) and many people have been using R for years with Tableau.  Talks about R integration are a very popular topic at Tableau Conference each year as well, so there has been a tremendous amount of interest in this area.

So much interest, in fact, that Jen Stirrup has written a new book that is due out pretty soon, Advanced Analytics with R and Tableau. It will be available in paperback and ebook formats and is due out on September 6.  That is less than a month away as I write this and I am looking forward to getting my copy.

Good luck, Jen.  I hope you sell many copies of this book!

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,


Monday, August 7, 2017

Matlab and Tableau!

Kudos to the folks at Mathworks for their efforts to bring Matlab into the Tableau world!  Details about this are here.  Nice job, gang!

As for testing, this is one of my team's areas.  We also own R and Python integration, so we had test plans for this area well established.  Mathworks was so good at their implementation that there was frankly not much for us to do - a couple of string change requests and that was really about it.  We added some automated tests to validate the behavior is correct - to tell us if we change something that would break using Matlab server - and have that up and running now.  The side benefit to the automation is that we have no manual testing left from this effort.  This means that we are not slowed down at all in the long term even though we have added new functionality.  From a test point of view, this is the ideal case.

We never want to build up manual test cases over time.  That growth, if there is any, will always eventually add up to more time than the test team has to complete the tasking.  Obviously, this doesn't work in the long term so we have made a concerted effort to hit 100% of our test cases being automated.

So, yay us!

And thanks again to Mathworks. FWIW, I truly like Matlab.  It is every easy to look at some mathematical equation and simply type it into Matlab - it almost always works the very time I try it. 

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cartographies of Time - a mini-review

We have an internal library here at Tableau and like any library, we can check out books to read or study.  We had the same setup at Microsoft as well, with a heavy emphasis on technical books.  Any computer company will have books on programming habits, design patters, Agile and other fields like this.

Tableau also has a large section on data visualizations.  The whole spectrum is covered here from books on how to efficiently write a graphics routine to how to best present data on screen in human readable form. 

A new book arrived this last week called Cartographies of Time and it is a history of the timeline.  I saw it on the shelf and grabbed it since I am a fan of medieval maps and the cover has a map in that style on it.  It is a fascinating book that covers the very first attempts at timelines and brings us up to the modern day.

The most striking aspect of this so far - I've not gotten too far into the book - is the sheer artistic skill of the early timelines.  The people that created those timelines worked very hard to get a vibrant image, a workable color scheme and a tremendous amount of data all put into one chart.  It is simply amazing to see this and if you have the opportunity I recommend picking up a copy of this book for yourself.

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,