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The Net Takeaway: Genetic Analytics...


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Genetic Analytics... · 04/27/2004 01:37 PM, Analysis

A friend suggested I look at Genalytics. Based out of Newburyport, MA, these folks have been quietly creating business analytic software based on genetic algorithms.

They provide services using their software, but their pride and joy is the Genalytics Predictive Suite. It includes some good software to make the suite an all encompassing analysis tool

The Modeling portion provides the usual visualization tools, etc. and they aren’t anything special. Their claim to fame is really the creation of one of the first publicly available genetic data mining tools for “general” use.

This class of analysis is also referred to as evolutionary algorithms. They model analysis after a Darwinian Evolutionary theory. In general, they have rules which predict things, and those rules interact with the “strongest” surviving to provide a final result. In general, they focus around two main activities: Crossover and Mutation. Also, their fit evaluation is usually more encompassing of all variables instead of the partials most of the rules inductions tend to use.

Now, I don’t know how Genalytics does this, but there is a “Michigan Approach” whereby you start with a group of rules, your “chromosomes”: half are random, half are based on most frequent values. The chromosomes make up a rule. You cycle through an evaluation (do these rules fit?), select the strongest, and then do a “reproduction” phase, where you allow some rules to cross (swap antecedents and precedents), some rules to pass through, and some to mutate (new rule based on old rule and a change).

Now, this is a bit of work to set up, and not something which you just set up in SPSS or Clementine. Instead, you have to code it. R has some packages at CRAN which start down this path, but most of the work is still high end researchy stuff.

So, Genalytics has productized it. Doug Newell, their CEO, has been tireless in trying to get people to recognize the power of the platform. Its not cheap; $50k can get you an initial integration and, say, a model (according to a Forrester report posted on the Genalytics site), but to really use the product, you recognize quickly that this is an “enterprise” priced solution.

I think they need to make a Clementine wrapper around it and price it on a per use basis, but that’s just me.

As a harbinger of cool things to come, I look forward to more penetration of new algorithms such as Genetic Alg to our analytic toolkit. I also encourage folks who want a leg up on the competition to consider a Genalytics analysis.

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