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Data Mining: Process and Techniques

May 13, 2024
Naveen Arora

With the rapid growth of big data and the evolution of data warehousing technologies, the adoption of data mining techniques has accelerated over the last couple of decades, assisting companies in identifying patterns and valuable insights from raw data.

Data mining aims to learn more about the customers from data collected in various formats, such as structured, semi-structured, and unstructured, to improve business decisions, develop effective marketing strategies, increase sales, and reduce costs.

Data Mining Process

Generally, each data mining model has its own steps, though the process is usually similar. For example, CRISP-DM (Cross Industry Standard Process for Data Mining) method has six steps, the Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD) model has nine steps, and SEMMA has five. However, none is a simple linear process; instead, it is a structured cyclical/iterative process that  works well when data scientists or analysts collect data effectively, use good warehousing, and employ data processing tools collaboratively.

  1. Business Understanding: A pivotal step for data scientists/analysts and business stakeholders to collaborate on defining the business problem/s and understanding the scope.
  2. Data understanding: Once the problem scope is defined, assessing the strengths and limitations of the available data helps answer the pertinent business questions about sources, data security, storage transformation and expected outcomes.
  3. Data preparation: During this step, collected data undergoes cleaning, standardization, error assessment, outlier removal, and feature selection to prevent slow computations while ensuring optimal accuracy.
  4. Modelling or pattern mining: With a clean data set and defined analysis type, the data team investigates for relationships, trends, sequential patterns, associations, correlations, or natural groupings in the data.
    If the input data is labelled, supervised learning techniques like classification or regression may be applied. Alternatively, clustering techniques, known as unsupervised learning, represent data groupings when a target variable is missing.
  5. Evaluation of results: This step involves rigorously assessing the data mining results to ensure they are true regularities and not just sample anomalies. Various data mining models are compared, and business goals determine based the most suitable model.
  6. Deployment: To realize a return on investment (ROI), the trained model is put into use. Management reviews the business impact identifies new business issues or opportunities for future data mining loops.

Data Mining Techniques

Data mining employs various algorithms and techniques to transform data into useful information. Here are some common learning  

Supervised learning or predictive: Divided into two types, supervised learning uses labeled datasets to train machine learning algorithms for classification or prediction tasks.. These methods offer valuable benefits across industries whenever a target feature is present in the dataset.

  • Classification: Algorithms like naive bayes, decision trees, neural networks, and k-nearest neighbour categorize data based through binary or multi-class classification. Each employs distinct learning methods to predict class labels for new instances.
  • Regression: This statistical method examines correlations between dependent and independent variables, refining the model by minimizing errors or impurities. It encompasses various regression models—including linear, polynomial, support vector, and random forest—that predict numeric or continuous outcomes.

Unsupervised learning or descriptive: Uses self-learning algorithms such as clustering, association relationships, and dimensionality reduction techniques to analyze raw data without labels or prior training. This approach uncovers hidden patterns, groups similar data, and represents datasets in a condensed format without explicit instructions. Ideal for complex tasks like cross-selling strategies, exploratory data analysis, image recognition, and customer segmentation.

Semi-supervised learning: Combines supervised and unsupervised learning by using labeled data sparingly and leveraging a larger volume of unlabeled data. Beneficial for applications like speech recognition and web content classification, where labeling all available data is impractical or costly.  

Reinforcement learning: Employs a trial-and-error methodology, where positive actions are rewarded, and negative ones are penalized. Techniques like Q-learning, policy gradient, and actor-critic models estimate cumulative rewards differently, making them valuable for industries like gaming, robotics, and autonomous driving.

About the author

Naveen Arora

Senior Consultant | Ireland
Naveen Arora is a Senior Consultant and has been working with stakeholders, senior managers, communities and executive teams for 14 years and specializes in today’s world technologies such as Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Automation, Quality Engineering, and more.

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