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So What Are Patterns? Why Should I care?
April 3, 2015
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All mathematics is a language that is well tuned, finely honed, to describe patterns; be it patterns in a star, which has five points that are regularly arranged, be it patterns in numbers like 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 that follow very regular progression.
Brian Greene

Identifying rules that describe specific patterns within “data” is an essential skill. To understand the importance of pattern discovery let’s first explore what are “patterns.”

Patterns are a set of items, subsequences or substructures that occur frequently together in data sets. We call these strongly correlated. Patterns usually represent intrinsic and important properties of data.

Pattern discovery is a process which attempts to uncover and mine patterns from massive data sets. For example;

  1. You may want to understand kind of products are often purchased together
  2. You may want to understand unexpected associations
  3. You may want to understand the sequences of warnings that precede an equipment failure to schedule preventative maintenance

Pattern mining forms the foundation for many things. For example, associating correlation causality analysis, mining sequential structure patterns, pattern analysis in spatiotemporal data, multimedia data and stream data.

Even for classification, if we use discriminative pattern-based analysis, the classification could be more accurate. And for cluster analysis, pattern-based subspace clustering could be an important direction for cluster analysis.

Let’s look at the Frequent patterns and associations rules. For example you have five transactions:

Transaction A: Eggs, bread, watermelon, beer

Transaction B: Beer, peanuts, bread

Transaction C: Diapers, wipes, apple sauce

Transaction D: Beer, bread, butter, toilet paper

Transaction E: Bread, cheese, apples

Transaction A contains eggs, bread, watermelon, and beer, which form an item set because this is a, a set of items. And for this particular one, it is four item set because it contains four items. And for each item set, you may have a concept of support. Support means, in these transactions data set, how many times does “beer” happen? In our example, there are three occurrences of beer out of five transactions. So the relative support is 3 over 5, or you can say 60%.

So, we may see whether in item set X is frequent or not. If X, the support of X, pass a minimum support threshold. For example, if we said the minimum support threshold is 50%. Then, we can see the frequent 1-itemset, in this data set, you will find there are 4, like, beer, you can see there are, 3 cases, the absolute support is 3, the relative support is 3 over 5 is 60%. But you will also note that in all transactions with “beer” we also find “bread”. Can assume that people who buy beer also buy bread?

More about Association Rule in next blog…



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Voice Remains the Preferred Channel of Contact
March 12, 2015
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Don’t yank your voice cables if you operate a contact center because old habits definitely die hard!

Even though use of mobile app and web are increasing, New Yorkers call 311in order of magnitude more than any other available channel, according to data released on NYC311 12th birthday.

311 BDay

While majority of media was interested in the reason people call 311 the most, I was intrigued by ancillary data.

  • 200 Million voice calls
  • 20 Million online visits (web)
  • 2 Million app, text and chat sessions

To be fair, NYC311 has had the voice channel since 2003 and added web only in 2009 but the difference is still overwhelming.

An official Tweet yesterday reminded New Yorkers that they have many ways to contact the call center which was launched in 2003 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as a one-stop call center to oversee more than 40 city agencies. Later NYC added online and mobile channel to address changing landscape. Bloomberg administration considered 311 call center major link between the city government and its citizens.

There are still room for improvement!

Web, mobile, SMS and voice are separate channels for NYC311 contact center. You cannot start an interaction on chat and continue on voice. Having to restate everything negatively impacts the citizens effort.

However, 311 is maturing rather rapidly. Many returns on the day @NYC311!

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Our snow-storms as a rule: History of Snow storms in NYC
March 5, 2015

Feels like it is the worst winter ever…. but NYC has a history of blizzard. On December 26, 2010, a Nor’easter dropped more than 20 inches of snow on New York City.

Blizzard of 2010

Strong winds pushed the falling snow into drifts that measured up to four feet. Transportation suffered major delays as airports and rail shut down across the city and Long Island. Travelers driving home from the holidays got stuck in the snow and abandoned their vehicles. These abandoned vehicles made it difficult for the city’s plows to clear the accumulating snow. The 2010-2011 winter went on to be one of the snowiest on record, with 56.1 inches falling in January 2011 alone.

After the storm, OEM introduced a Snow Emergency Declaration to caution residents against unnecessary driving during a snowstorm and keep roads clear for plows and emergency vehicles.

Record-breaking snowfall blanketed New York City on February 11 and 12, 2006, making this February storm the biggest in the city’s history.  

February 2006 Snowstorm

Measurements taken in Central Park showed that 26.9 inches had accumulated by the storm’s end. The snow fell for 16 hours, and meterologists classified the storm as a nor’easter with winds about 20-30 mph.

In the city, the Department of Sanitation worked around the clock to remove snow from roads and walkways. The City deployed 2,500 workers to cover 12-hour shifts to handle snow clean-up.

With 25.4 inches of snow reported at LaGuardia Airport, hundreds of flights at both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports were canceled. Long Island Railroad temporarily stopped service into and out of Penn Station; Metro-North service shut down for part of the day; extensive subway delays were seen mostly on the 2, 4, 5, L and M lines; New York City’s Bus service was running at 50% capacity. Despite the transportation interruptions, no serious storm-related injuries occurred.

Nearly two feet of snow blanketed the New York City area following the President’s Day storm of Feb. 17, 2003, which claimed 42 lives nationwide, stranded thousands of travelers, and cost the City $20 million.

President’s Day Storm 2003

Two deaths in the metropolitan area were attributed to the storm, including a man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while he was warming up his car, and a man killed when a roof collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Major airports along the eastern seaboard — including LaGuardia Airport — shut down, while Kennedy and Newark Airports issued extensive flight cancelations. Bus service was halted in and out of Port Authority Bus Terminal, while Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak trains ran with scattered delays.

Dumping more than 20 inches of snow in Central Park, the blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996, marked the second biggest snowstorm in New York City history.

Blizzard of 1996

With winds gusting to more than 50 miles an hour, the powerful nor’easter caused widespread power outages, scores of fatalities and $1 billion in damages from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Thousands of travelers were stranded at City airports, bus terminals, and highway rest stops as transportation ground to a halt. On Jan. 8, New York City public and parochial schools were ordered closed, several Broadway shows canceled performances, and the New York Stock Exchange had a short day.

Dozens of deaths were attributed to the storm, including a Connecticut man and two New Jersey men who suffered heart attacks while shoveling snow.

As 26,528 tons of salt was spread on City roads, snow was hauled to designated vacant lots and parking areas or dumped into the East and Hudson Rivers. By the end of the 1995-1996 winter season, New York City had experienced 16 snowstorms and recorded more than 89 inches of snow.

From March 12-14, 1993, the 1993 superstorm was called such because it affected the entire eastern third of the U.S.

Storm of the Century: 1993

Source: NOAA’s Celebrating 200 Years Collection

There was a major severe weather event in the southeast, flooding and snow in the Mid-Atlantic states and blizzard conditions in the northeast. New York City’s Central Park recorded 10.2 inches of snowfall on March 13. Overall, the nation incurred more than $3 billion in damage.

The “Storm of the Century” marked the first time that NOAA’s Weather Service was able to forecast a storm of this magnitude five days in advance and provide storm and blizzard warnings two days in advance.

Blizzard of 1978

Satellite image of the 1978 blizzard recorded on February 6, 1978 at 1530 HRS. Source: NOAA Natural Disaster Survey Report 78-1, “Northeast Blizzard of ’78 February 5-7, 1978”

While the storm, which occurred February 6-7, 1978, is more well known for its impact on coastal New England and Long Island, it still affected eastern New York: 17.7 inches was recorded in mid-Manhattan alone.

Holding the previous record for the biggest snowstorm in New York City history, the blizzard of 1947 dropped 26.4 inches of snow in Central Park over two days (December 26-27).

Blizzard of 1947

Source: New York Public Library

As moisture in the Gulf Stream fed the storm’s energy, the City was paralyzed when the blizzard barreled its way through, stranding cars and buses in the streets, halting subway service, and claiming 77 lives.

With 21 inches of snow falling over a two-day period — the third largest accumulation on record — the blizzard of 1888 hit New York City by surprise at the end of a warm March day (March 11-14).

Blizzard of 1888

45th Street and Grand Central Depot, New York, March 1888, Source: NOAA’s National Weather Service Collection

As two storms, one approaching from the south and one from the north, met over the City, heavy precipitation and winds gusting up to almost 75 mph resulted in snowdrifts up to 30 feet high. Roads and highways were blocked, steam train service was suspended, horse-drawn streetcars and taxis halted operations, and ships docked in New York’s harbor.

A New York Central locomotive derailed while attempting to push past snow drifts in the 4th Avenue tunnel, and many commuters were stranded on elevated tracks in unheated cars. It took 14 days for the City to completely recover. The mayor responded in early 1889 by ordering all overhead wires placed underground.



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January 25, 2015

On January 7th, 2015 when Muslim terrorists slaughtered twelve journalists at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, for some strange reasons I thought about Paris, Texas, a town often referred to as “the second largest Paris in the world”.

As the maddening violence reverberated the globe, I wondered how did the people of Paris, Texas react where they had elected a Muslim mayor.

A Pakistani-American, a seemingly apolitical student when he was in Dow Medical College in 1980s, Dr. Arjumand Hashmi is the mayor of a northeastern Texas, conservative Christian town.

Dr. Arjumand Hashmi, mayor of Paris Texas, a conservative Christian town.

Dr. Arjumand Hashmi, mayor of Paris Texas, a conservative Christian town.

Although known in Pakistan for being the cardiologist of record of former President Pervez Musharaf, to a local Texan, Dr. Hashmi is just their mayor, and of course, their cardiologist.

This Pakistani Republican has an interesting personality… grew up admiring Mohammad Ali Jinnah but after making America his home, he quickly found new role models; George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Below is our brief conversation:

Why did you choose to run for public office?

“Number of reasons- like many other residents I was not satisfied with the performance of the local council. We were losing jobs, and the local leadership was not appropriately addressing the attrition. In 2010, Sara Lee had shut down their production and 700 people had lost their jobs. In a town of 25,000, that’s big. Besides economy, there was a general decay that was obvious from the appearance of this town. Our infrastructure was old and falling apart. I had lived here and had a successful practice. I felt a sense of obligation. I owed it to the community, so I offered to serve.”

What type of obstacles did you have to overcome?

“Well, of course, there were obstacles. I am a Pakistan-born immigrant living in Texas, and people were concerned about my intention. Some asked if I would build a mosque or implement Sharia Law. I had to overcome these obstacles. But the great thing about America is that people are willing to listen. You can reason with them. For example, I explained to my fellow citizens that just like we don’t build Church with public funds, we cannot build Mosque with public funds either. I told them that I lived in America because I love this political system. This system is working so why would I want to change it? I also explained that if I wanted to live in a country with Sharia Law I would migrate to Saudi Arabia. We adopted this country and no one forced us to come here. I follow my religion, I say my prayers, but we live in the very same town. This is our town.”

Why are there are a limited number of Pakistani-Americans engaged in public service?

“Normally Pakistanis stay occupied within our groups. We are active in our communities and participate in activities like APPNA. We are interested and engaged in the politics of Pakistan. We are all working for our own personal financial growth. So our priorities are different.

But I believe the main reason, people don’t run for office, is out of fear of failure. They do not want to lose an election. They do not want to step out of their comfort zone. But it needs to change. This is our country… This is our community. We must participate in politics, ensure positive change for posterity.

My wife and I have raised our kids to be socially responsible. They are encouraged to participate in local politics. Of course, they need to pursue academic and professional studies but that should not preclude them from being part of public service.”

Do you think being a cardiologist helped your electability?

“I am sure it helped. Because I have a practice in town, people already knew me. But as a health care provider, I had a different relationship with the constituency. Patients came to me for assistance. But when I was campaigning I was going to them seeking their support. Different dynamics.”

What have you done for Paris, TX?

“My goal and campaign promise were to empower individuals, increase people’s participation in local government and practice open door policy. My administration has been open and completely transparent. People were welcome to every council meeting even when it meant opposition to my point of view. I wanted to create the environment of inclusion. Besides, under my admin local Fire Department was able to procure state of the art fire trucks, we secured a bond of $45 million to modernize our water and sewerage system.

I am proud to say that under my administration we were able deliver on our election promise of health, safety and quality of life.”

Texas is in the center of the debate on hydro-fracking. Where do you stand on the environmental issues like fracking and Keystone XL that can potentially go through your town?

“I am for green energy; the wind, water and solar.”

Does that put you at odd with conservative Republicans? What will you do if Keystone XL pipeline has to go through your town?

“I will study the health impact and also economic benefits. There has to be a balance. I will make sure citizens of this town are involved in the decision.”

If you were the mayor of Paris, France how would have responded to the recent massacre? Do you support Freedom of Speech, unconditionally?

“Well, I am not the mayor of Paris, so it is hard for me to respond. But the ruthless and senseless murder is extremely sad and must be condemned unconditionally. When Prophet Mohammad took over Makah, he pardoned everyone. I don’t know at what point these extremists took over Islam. This is extremely distressing, and it is very sad that moderate Muslims are being held hostage by these fundamentalists.”

So are you saying you completely support freedom of expression and not concept of blasphemy? Do you support the 1st Amendment in its entirety?

“Yes, absolutely. I support the 1st Amendment. No doubt.”

 This blue-blooded Republican seems to have larger political aspirations. I am willing to bet my dollar that we will see him vying for additional responsibilities; larger roles. I have a feeling he may one day follow the footsteps of other South Asian Americas Bobby Jindal and Nimrat Randhawa Haley.


This interview was published here:


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The But(t) Brigade
January 13, 2015
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Salman Rushdie, who was a guest on Bill Maher’s Jan 9th show, coined an interesting term: the “But Brigade.”

The “But brigade”, constitutes those who try to find a reason for the unreasonable… yes, terrorists were wrong but Charlie Hebdo should not have published those offensive cartoons….

Although he had nothing to do with cartoons that so enraged the already enraged shooters, but they say that it all began with him, so the But Brigade kicks him in the Butt each time an Islamic terrorist gets offended and goes on a killing rampage.

It all starts with benign buts coming from people like Glenn Greenwald, Maria Bustillos, Joe Sacco, and David Brooks , who have made various statements suggesting that while murdering everybody at Charlie Hebdo should be condemned but the work of those journalists cannot be defended.

Let’s be clear.  The But(t) Brigade does not advocate violence, except a small kick in the butt to the offenders.  Rushdie‘s sore bottom, however, shows that those buts can add up to serious injury.

To be fair, the But Brigade has members all over the world and are not confined to any nationality or culture.  There are a large number among seemingly “moderate” Muslims.

I can say this with mathematical certitude based on my empirical research which consisted in analyzing Facebook timelines, and personal and direct interactions on social media ☺

These folks start by saying, “I’m for free speech,” and take away everything back by adding “but…”

Rushdie said,

“the West must not give a fucking inch” asking, “what would a respectful political cartoon look like?”

Many FB friends reminded me that I should “also mourn murder of countless Palestinian journalists.”

Image 1

I wonder what these people say at funerals …  “I am sorry your mother passed away. But you should also feel bad for me because my mother also died last year.”

Just like the Republican Party, the But Brigade also has a right and a crazy-right wing.  Yes, that group of people who say women get raped because they wear suggestive clothing.  That’s also the But Brigade. (more the crazy-right wing of the but brigade. The “right” doesn’t like to discuss them because they’ve been trying to draw more women.)

However, there is another variation of the But Brigade. The left But Brigade has been really busy these days trying to explain that the violence has nothing to do with Islam. They claim the bloodbath has nothing to do with their religion and, Islam is a religion of peace. When you push back they will at the most concede that the Muslim “crazies” represent a perversion of a great religion.

 It should be stated that the But Brigade is not funded by any nation or political party. They are sustained completely by small spontaneous donations through a unique Indiegogo algorithm.  Every time someone says “No Muslim would ever do this”, a dollar is automatically donated to their account

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Impressive: App Store Developers Earn $25 billion
January 8, 2015
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Apple announced new record for billings from the App Store during the first week of January; billings rose 50% in 2014. These milestones follow a record-breaking 2014, in which billings rose 50% and apps generated over $10 billion in revenue for developers. So far App Store developers have earned a cumulative $25 billion from the sale of apps and games.

Now that’s impressive!

In an unrelated OpEd, Reuters columnist Robyn Mak believes that the Internet companies after conquering “their home markets are eyeing new ones like India and southeast Asia, where customers haven’t yet fixed their loyalties.”

Decent economic growth, a rising middle class that’s just discovering the web through smartphones make both India and Indonesia two most desirable destinations for tech firms.

“In India, where only 14 percent of the 1.3 billion people use the internet regularly, e-commerce revenue is expected to hit $6 billion in 2015, 70 percent more than 2014, Gartner reckons. Similarly, Southeast Asia’s $1 billion online gaming market is projected to grow an annual 22 percent for the next three years – the fastest of any region in the world according to market research firm Newzoo.”

China’s tech companies are getting serious about overseas growth. Their home market is still expanding, but it’s concentrated already. Alibaba has over 80 percent of the e-commerce market; Baidu dominates search. In wealthier South Korea too, chat app Kakao has 94 percent of the mobile messaging market. Japanese group Rakuten is already chasing online consumers in racier, less mature markets.

Better than growth is a lack of clear frontrunners in the region. In Indonesia, WhatsApp leads tenuously with 43 percent of the market, according to On Device Research. But millions of potential users have yet to set their loyalties. Jakarta is the most active Twitter city in the world, yet less than a quarter of Indonesians use smartphones. In India, it’s just 18 percent, according to Nielsen.

Asia’s tech companies have some advantages, such as a proven track record in the region. SoftBank, a major shareholder in Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba, is looking to repeat its success in similar markets. The Japanese conglomerate’s $627 million investment in Indian online marketplace Snapdeal comes less than a month after a separate investment in Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia.

Companies like Baidu and Tencent have also grown up with emerging market web users, whereas their U.S. peers’ roots are in serving rich, urban consumers. The next phase of internet growth will be the first real test of East versus West.

To date, App Store developers have earned a cumulative $25 billion from the sale of apps and games.

To date, App Store developers have earned a cumulative $25 billion from the sale of apps and games.