The Hidden Patterns in Data

There’s a great TED talk on statistics, and one I’d recommend you watch. However, it’s not so much the topic and data presented, but the way in which it’s presented and broken down that becomes interesting. If we ignore the topic, and just look at the analysis, a few  things stand out that I’d apply to business.

The first noticeable thing for me was the breaking down of the large bubbles into smaller ones. I think that all too often we try to boil down information to a single, or very limited number, of values. While the overall average or graph of a set of data can be helpful, it can also be distorted by outliers in the underlying data. Seeing the data broken part into quintiles helps to analyze how closely the overall average matches up with the data.

The other item that I think sometimes get lots of analysis of business data is the change across time. We often look at year over year, or last period’s values, but we don’t dive much deeper into the changes over time. Seeing a series of numbers on a page works well for some people, but the animated visual can be helpful in discerning a pattern or making a decision based on data.

This is a great look at statistics, and it makes me think many of these techniques can be handy in looking at something like server performance metrics and deciding if we need more (or less) resources, or even if we have good candidates for consolidation. I’m looking forward to trying to adapt these tools for my own uses.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 2.6MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and LibSyn.

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Editor, SQLServerCentral
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