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DM: RE: RE: data mining skeptics

From: Usama Fayyad
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 12:15:22 -0400 (EDT)
this reminds me of a Wired Magazine, late 1994 issue,
where they listed "Data Mining" as a hype term
and predicted that it will disappear by July 1995...
I just came back from KDD-99 which had over 600
attendees, and a great collection of very high
quality papers. There is a healthy energetic
crowd working on academic, industrial, and applications

I think the trick is to remember that for any new
area or field, the new solution is typically
addressing something people were already doing.
People for a long time recognized there is value in their
data. What's new here is that the sizes got huge very
quickly, so most of the data resource gets wasted...
So in a sense, the problem of data mining is not "new".
But what is? e.g. when the automobile came along, it was not a
revolution in any sense: in fact for a long time
it was debatable whether it could ever replace the
horse. The same is true for trains, etc. Over time,
the extent to which a technology is:
   - integrated
   - convenient
   - easy to use
   - affordable
drives it towards adoption, and after that a 'revolution' 
might happen.

Where data mining seems to be going in the right direction
is along these areas. This is in terms of systems, etc.
These are directions that, generally speaking, statistics
did not try to follow. In contrast, database systems did.
So there is a distinction between data mining systems and
data mining as a field of study. In the long term, I think
data mining will become just another convenient set of tools
for reducing data. The more invisible, the more successful
(see article by George John in first issue of SIGKDD Explorations

As a field of study, as far as I am concerned, there are
plenty of unsolved problems (see my editorials in the
journal Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery for a list)
and so many problems that will be around for a long, long
time. Data tends to grow, and very fast, and people
will be looking for techniques to reduce and exploit it.
If data mining as a scientific investigation area goes

away, then something pretty much equivalent will replace it.

So from a semantics perspective, I am not sure there is
any issue here. Researchers will be trying to solve data
mining problems for a long time to come. Does it overlap
with existing fields? sure. But what field starts out
in total isolation anyway. Solid areas of investigaton
emerge from other fields. There will always be overlap.
The question is where is most of the focus and energy


-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Dinsmore []
Sent: Monday, August 16, 1999 6:42 AM
Subject: DM: RE: data mining skeptics

There is a great deal of skepticism and cynicism about data mining 
businesspeople because the field is overhyped.  Marketing executives 
subjected to a chorus of sales messages from vendors whose claims are

Individuals with a great deal of experience in traditional modeling 
be the most skeptical about new data mining products and services. In
cases, these individuals may perceive that new tools and techniques 
threat to their existing competence and capabilities; if you believe
people are responding defensively to your message, encourage them to
about the advantages and benefits in terms of doing their work better 

In other cases, skeptical messages may reflect business values and
requirements.  For example, data miners tend to focus on very small
incremental improvements in model accuracy, improvements that may or 
lead to genuine economic benefits or business utility.  Are customers
reacting with skepticism to your claims, or are they telling you that
do not value the results you propose to achieve?

Finally, bear in mind that it is your customers' job to be skeptical
new products and services -- if data mining survives (and I believe 
will) it is because data miners will succeed in establishing 
within the domains they seek to serve.

Thomas W. Dinsmore
Engagement Manager
Exchange Applications
One Lincoln Plaza
89 South Street
Boston MA 02111
voice:   617-737-2244 x556
fax:      617-443-9143
mobile: 617-512-7297


-----Original Message-----
From: Tjen-Sien Lim []
Sent: Saturday, August 14, 1999 8:07 PM
Subject: DM: data mining skeptics

I'm wondering what you'd say to people who are skeptical or even
cynical toward data mining. I've just met people who really dislike
data mining and predict that the entire field won't last long. Since
they're beyond my league, I couldn't convince them that data mining is
a real field and won't vanish. Thanks.

Tjen-Sien Lim                (608) 262-8181 (Voice)
Dept. of Statistics          (209) 882-7914 (Fax)
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
1210 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53706

P.S. My apology if this is a stupid question.

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