SAS Enterprise Miner 5.1 digs into data
Graphical, interactive client improves tools for statistical experts and business analyst collaborationFollow @infoworld
After a sample set of working data has been obtained, the analyst can explore the set graphically with simple, informative, but not spectacular charts. Although adequate, the charts won’t add a lot of value for those analysts who are comfortable with summary numbers -- that is, most sophisticated users. The new version can, however, export diagram results as XML files for distribution to other analysts who may be collaborating on the solutions.
The next phase is to build a set of tasks to design a model that answers questions by selecting component “nodes.” Nodes are dragged and dropped onto a diagram workspace, where the analyst connects them in a processing sequence.
Each node contains a package of functions for manipulating or analyzing data or for displaying results. The interface presents a chain of nodes that represents the sequence an analyst works through from input to output. It’s an elegant and effective method that will increase both productivity and the ability to refine models.
When results have been obtained, the analyst can examine them graphically or as tables (or both) in order to gain insight into the processes. Those insights fuel a subsequent tuning of the processes or perhaps trigger new questions and modifications to the design that will enhance the model’s ability to deliver better-tuned results iteratively.
Enterprise Miner 5.1’s new node choices include an AutoNeural node that speeds the process of defining a neural network. Neural networks are useful but usually require a fair amount of work and a little bit of luck to tune. The new node accelerates the refinement of the algorithm, thereby eliminating much of the problem.
After an effective model has been created, the analyst can apply the model to incoming data by exporting it to SAS9 or as C or PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language). Enterprise Miner 5.1 now includes an experimental Java API, which supports embedding of the product’s processes into custom programs so owners can extend the client utility.
Data mining is the one sure way to progress regardless of the economy’s direction, but which vendor’s solution works best remains an open-ended question. SAS’ offering has certainly gotten stronger with this version of Enterprise Miner.
Its new program architecture enhances performance by speeding iterative work and expanding the number of questions and size of data sets that can be analyzed. Enterprise Miner 5.1 is a dynamo that should be an automatic upgrade for SAS shops.