We are often asked where to find the sample files for our text analytics tutorial. It's a small set of IBM quarterly reports. I've uploaded them here, just click on that to download them. Happy coding!!
Peggy Zagelow - a view from the lab
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I had the pleasure this week of participating in a couple of live IBM Academy of Technology events - the first for me in several years. It was great to reconnect with some of my colleagues, and get a chance to talk over IBM technology and client engagements.
Our academy president, Rashik Parmar, had arranged for a session with Bill Gajda from Visa. Bill's role at Visa includes mobile strategy as well as global innovation. We had a frank and open discussion about Visa's use of data, who their customers are, and IBM's technology role.
Please note that any errors in here are likely mine, I didn't take notes, I was far too engaged and inspired thinking about all the data (!) during the discussion.
Clearly, credit card transactions are "big data". I don't recall the exact numbers, but here's an article from over 5 years ago which references 300 million transactions a day. Bill Gajda told us that Visa keeps around 5-7 years of past transactions. They primarily use this information for real-time fraud scoring of individual transactions. So, when you charge something, Visa gets the approval request, and attaches a score which indicates the likelihood that the transaction is fraudulent. This is based on several factors, such as your usual spending patterns and the location of the transaction. That is the primary use for the historical data. Bill also told us of a partnership they did with The Gap, where if a Gap customer in their loyalty program opted in with their phone number, Visa would tell the Gap when a purchase was being made nearby a Gap store, and then The Gap could text an offer to their customer for a discount at the Gap. I was able to find an article describing that, and was surprised to see it was from 2011! Now, if you're a geek like me, you'll think for a second about how the data flows. (This is just Peggy speculating, I have no further knowledge of the internals of this...) So say you charge your lunch on your Visa card, and the approval data flows to Visa, then after Visa processes the approval, it also looks at the zip code and compares it to a list of zip codes it has from The Gap of their store locations (I'm making this easy by Zip code rather than a lattitude/longitude based proximity lookup). When there's a match, Visa initiates a message to The Gap to tell them you're close to a Gap store... and Gap then sends you a text message with a promotion. Phew! Do you think Visa also has a indicator on your credit card that you're a Gap customer? They must... I can't imagine they do this on "every" Visa transaction... ! Actually, I guess there is "Gap Visa" card, so it's probably those which are targeted.
I don't know about you, but I have fun thinking about this kind of stuff. Some other interesting facts I learned are that Visa doesn't have your name or personal information - that data all resides with the issuing bank. One of my colleagues asked Bill Gajda whether if a person has multiple Visa cards, does Visa have information across the cards. At first, he answered "yes", but then with another colleague's question about matching the names, he said "no" - Visa has no idea that you are the same person when you have multiple cards. Interesting thought about whether we could perhaps match spending patterns to identify who might be the same person? That might not be something Visa wants to do, of course, I was thinking of it more as a theoretical exercise. Also, Visa doesn't really consider cardholders customers, despite its advertising budget - its customers are the issuing banks and the accepting retailers, so they are the ones who would be likely consumers of the volume of data or aggregated insights from it. Tho I guess the banks already have it, too.
In any case, again, data about people and their habits is big data and big business. I personally don't find any of this "scary" but I guess some people might. I just like people, so data about people is interesting data to me. I might those who do find it scary might just have to take a closer look at some of those tiny print privacy agreements!
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I thought I'd share a nice little AQL output example that might be of help in your Big Insights text analytics programming.
Consider that you've created a very complex AQL view, one which extracts a very detailed concept from text. This might take into account many different text constructs and match a large variety of different text in documents.
If you want to take that view and use it to simply identify which documents have an occurance of this advanced concept, you can do it like this. In this case, I've assumed the complex view name is called "Division'.
create view DivisionCount as
select Count(*) as dc from Division D;
create view DivisionBoolean as
when Equals(DC.dc,0) then 'no'
from Document R,DivisionCount DC;
To test this using the Text Analytics tutorial example, I created a new document called text.txt which doesn't have any matches for Division in it. When I run it and select to see DivisionBoolean in the output, I get this as a result:
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I'm really enjoying being back working at IBM's Silicon Valley Lab, after spending some time on assignment in IBM's Global Business Services division. Since November, I've been working as one of the product architects for IBM's Big Insights product, focusing on Text Analytics.
This week we were working closely with our top-notch design team, and it occurred to me that the four big areas of data actifity we were discussing spelled out LOVE.
Load, Organize, Visualize, Export.
Since we started just after Valentine's day, we decided this was appropriate. And for me, this has all truly been a labor of LOVE. I'm trying to make it stick as a code name. You heard it here first!
Too many blog posts start with "It's been awhile since I've posted here", so I'm gonna skip that part and pretend that we've been talking regularly all along, OK ?
Firstly, yes, I'll be at IOD this year! I've missed a couple due to being completely heads-down on helping get this cool new product out, so it will be great on a personal and professional networking level to reconnect with many of you. I'm there to help represent an IBM product called IBM Content Analytics affectionately known as "ICA". It's part of our Enterprise Content Management suite. ICA integrates very well in an enterprise but at its core it is a standalone product - no prereqs. I hope that we get a chance to chat about it if we run into each other at IOD, I promise to keep it fun and friendly. :-)
The value proposition for IOD is one of unlocking insight with business value from your text content. Of course there is amazing technical capability behind it, and that's where my time is spent. Remember those old ads for the Evelyn Woods Speed Reading courses (kinda funny that it's still around, huh!)? Conceptually, it's like this ICA system knows how to do that, because it can just go and "read" anything and everything you've got, and then tell you what the important things are across the whole smash of documents. You aren't searching, you're being presented the hot terms, words, phrases, words that come from a list you provide, and how they are trending over time (you get to choose the date for analyzing trends - received date? incident date? date extracted from text? hire date? birth date? -- get the picture?). ICA also shows you how other terms, phrases, words correlate to what you've already identified. Right away out of the box, ICA will show you insight -- and it connects to all different enterprise sources. We've got a great suite of built-in capability for text analytics and intuitive visualizations for your insights. And then on top of that, ICA is completely customizable, too - make it find the insights/concepts you are interested in, display them how you need to, get instant results for a document, export analytics results to your favorite reporting tools, and oh, so much more!
My technical lead focus on 2010 has been on the ICA tooling and customization capabilities - how to add new custom text analytics, how to use the LanguageWare Resource Worbench to customize ICA, and how to make sure the sources of text are represented the way you want them. In that vein, I led a team of brilliant capable students in an Extreme Blue project this summer who really helped us to show how you can unlock the value in your data using this platform. And I've been having a lot of geeky fun designing and giving demos to lots of different clients.
Come learn more if you'll be at IOD. It's easy to search this ECM roadmap for Content Analytics sessions, and that's where you'll find me hanging around, plus I'll be at the Expo pedestals. Or let's catch up over a beverage - it's been too long!
As many of you know, I changed jobs early in 2008 to switch my developer focus from DB2 for z/OS over to unstructured text technologies. Since many DB2 folks are heads-down in structured data, that whole "content"side is a bit of a mystery. Sure, you know about search, and you likely have a vague understanding of what it means to have a text index supporting keyword search. But really, there's so much more...
I've been learning a ton about all of this, which is to be expected after over a year (!) in this job. I have some terrific colleagues in text analytics, in research, development and services, who continually amaze me with their breadth and depth of knowledge, as well as their passion for the topic and their eagerness to help customers.
I happen to love linguistics, so this job is a great fit for me. I love to read, and the turn of a phrase in a book or a song lyric brings me joy. I like to think about the best way to phrase things and ways to interpret sentences. The more I interact with non-native English speakers, the more I appreciate both the beauty and the limitations of language, and the inherent difficulties in both generating and understanding sentences. I truly enjoyed all my study of French in school, too. It's always been such an intellectual snobbery to say something like "the French have a word for that", but anyone who knows more than one language knows it to be true -- language translation is never exact and concepts cannot always be expressed well, even in one's native language. Bottom line is that it's so interesting for me to dig into and help shape the technology and rules around extracting meaning from unstructured text.
Last month I was talking with a long-time friend and colleague who was here with her company at the IBM Silicon Valley Lab for a technology briefing. She and I have had several conversations at conferences over the years on topics like O-O databases, Java, XML, as they were emerging towards mainstream over the years. In the briefing, we talked a bit about unstructured data in the context of the Information Agenda, and one of their company's thought leaders said that unstructured data inclusion is implied. Cool, but, um, how exactly? Their (very reasonable) response when I probed a little further was that they needed to hook up with the business guys on that. YES! That's where I think we all absolutely have to start -- what is the unstructured data, and what questions do you need answered from it for business value. Then we go into more of the logistics around that.
Specifically, just this week I've worked on a couple of items that can help me bring some meaning to what text analytics is all about to folks who haven't been exposed to it deeply. The first was working on a report for a well-known analyst group, where we describe our information access technologies and offerings for unstructured data. And the second is a new offering that I hope will become available soon, to help quantify needs and specific business value that can be derived from unstructured data. If you are curious about any specifics, a great place to start digging into and even playing with some text analytics technology is the LanguageWare capabilities, system text and UIMA.
If you're interested in this kind of stuff, please let me know, or contact your local IBM rep and ask them (and tell them to ask me if they want a starting contact!) I'm passionate and eager to help! :-)[Read More]
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I found out about this one last week, and I think it sounds pretty interesting. IBM is holding a data management 'virtual conference' on February 25th. This one sounds like it's a lot more than just a webinar, as there is a show floor with virtual Expo Pedestals as well as speakers and the chance to chat with experts.
The screen shots that I saw look intriguing, although I admit that I don't yet have an exact sense of what it will be like to "be there". What I do know is that travel budgets are likely to range from tight to non-existent for everyone, but the need for knowledge and personal technical contacts is greater than ever.
Here's the agenda:
If you haven't seen much on the Information Agenda, it's worth a look. It's all about trusted information and getting the right information out of the silos and working for the business. Over my years in the Information Management area of IBM, I've seen this message evolve and it continues to make more sense to me - how about you? The way I see it, if you're responsible for one silo of information, making that available for the business to benefit from should be one of your main objectives, well, that along with ensuring the security and reliability of that information.
Here's what the Expo Solution Pedestals will have:
Along with the fact that there's no travel cost, the virtual conference is free to attend! Interested? Register now!. And let me know how you liked it, did it work? It's easy to say that this can't fully replace a real in-person conference experience (after all there's no beer), but I like the idea of supplementing the real ones with other ways to stay connected and informed. This should be a step up from a webinar, as there seem to be many opportunities to interact real-time.
Now... how are they going to handle free swag from those pedestals? :-)[Read More]
Even though I don't work daily on DB2 any more, I thought this might be a helpful post.
Last night I was online, shopping coincindentally on Cyber Monday, for presents for both my Dad's birthday and my nephew's birthday.
A work colleague happened to catch me online to ask some questions. Now, these answers are not from a book, just what I said right out of my head -- JUST as I would if you and I had this conversation. Here is our Lotus Sametime conversation, verbatim, no editing. updated: one minor edit marked by  -- OK, and I also put in the html tags and made the requester anonymous, of course. So -- sure, I could have said more about the virtues of data sharing and WLM. They are many! Forgive me, it was nighttime and I wasn't in a "marketing" mood.
In any case, please enjoy the truthiness of this exchange.
Dec 1, 2008
I know that many of you are getting ready to attend the IOD conference next week in Las Vegas. Alas, I will not be there, but that doesn't stop me from giving you advice about how to get the most out of a conference. After all, you are spending your time there, and your company's money, so you might as well make the most of it.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Keystone, Colorado. I was notified of my participation only two weeks before, and I wasn't aware of this conference at all. I made my reservations and printed out the conference agenda, which I reviewed on the plane on the way there.Most conferences give you access to the agenda ahead of time, and it's a good idea to print that out and have a look at it.
As for me, after one quick pass through it, I started by putting a "dot" next to anything I might be interested in, and a "star" next to anything that was a 'must see'. Then I started to notice some trends emerging. I came up with these goals for the conference, based on what was in the agenda:
To that end, I circled the name of any IBMer, and labeled each of the rest of what I noted as one of the above. Now, I realize, this approach might seem a bit, well, organized -- particularly for me. But it really worked, particularly to keep my attention and also keep a balance of different topics, as well as provide a tiebreaker when there were multiple sessions at the same time - I just look at the balance of the other sessions I've been attending.
Another thing you want to do while you're there is talk to other people about what they've seen, what they are going to see, etc. It's so easy to miss something or misinterpret something in an agenda.
If you keep a good balance between "use right now" and "good to know for the future" topics, you can help keep your brain from overflowing - that's always a danger at a multi-day conference![Read More]
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I think that most of you reading this work for large companies, and our U.S. large companies tend to have pretty active legal departments. One of the hot topics these days around litigation is the investigation of email to answer legal requirements for evidence. Yep, they're likely keeping all of your email, and are required to comply when asked to provide the relevant ones as part of a lawsuit. Getting that set right is a big deal.
Now, I'm not a lawyer. I do happen to come from a family of lawyers, but that's not really here nor there for this discussion. The group where I work in IBM's Information Mangement has just produced a pretty cool part of the eDiscovery puzzle. It's called eDiscovery Analyzer. As you can see in the announcement letter, it works in conjunction with other IBM products to analyze email content in a repository.
The cool part is what's under the hood here. Based on the open, unstructured information management architecture-based search and text analytics (known as UIMA to those who know and love it), this product processes the text inside as well as the associated information about all the emails. This processing in turn allows a legal email analyzer person to work with and filter based on extracted entities from the email, such as people and company names, and stuff like sender, recipient and date. Combine that with powerful free-text search and you really have some amazing capability to categorize, gather, flag... this really helps a legal staff when they're asked to provide exactly what's needed and no more.
Now... what if you had this kind of capability on other information besides legal email repositories in your enterprise. What would you do with it? What other business problems could this kind of technology solve for you?
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Some of my IBM colleagues have created a pretty cool idea - that we, the community of folks with an interest in IBM's information management technology, should designate a day to connect virtually online. This means not just reading content, but actually taking a step further and participating.
I've always seen online social networking tools as extensions of what is done better in person, and a pretty good substitute for when it's just not practical to be in person. This goes back years and years, to online forums, prodigy (remember that?), etc. If you think of your participation online as much like an in-person event as you possibly can, you'll benefit the most possible.
Say, for example, if you attended a talk at a conference, and you gained a lot of useful knowledge from it, and then found your self face-to-face with the speaker right afterwards, you'd say "thanks, I learned a lot from your talk". And if you were sitting at lunch and someone said "Do you know anyone here who can help me with an SQL issue", you'd point them across the room to where your favorite SQL expert sat. Or, you'd do your best to answer the SQL issue yourself.
What we're thinking is that perhaps if we picked a day and asked everyone to speak up in just one small way, we might get some folks more comfortable with participating online, and everyone would benefit - make some contacts, get some questions answered, reconnect with someone you met in person, etc.
I've received a few questions about text search in DB2 9 for z/OS lately, so I thought I'd share the basic information here.
Prior to DB2 9, there was an offering called "DB2 Text Extender". This was an early attempt at text indexing that runs on z/OS. It is dependent on some z/OS code called "Text Search". Later on, the team that worked on the extenders also released something called "DB2 Net Search Extender", aka NSE. DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows had a significant upgrade with NSE, but that same upgrade was not shipped for DB2 for z/OS. So DB2 for z/OS customers have not had a significant upgrade to text search since "DB2 Text Extender" in DB2 V7.
In DB2 9, there is a completely new text search solution. Text search is provided by a built-in engine function called CONTAINS. This solution requires an external text search server that runs on a Windows or Linux operating system, which is provided as part of the DB2 Accessories suite. It is not a direct replacement of Text Extender function, so applications and administration policies need to be updated for this change. The best source for detailed information about this is in the information center topic Administering IBM text search for DB2 for z/OS. And I have an earlier blog entry about the announcement.
What about the DB2 Text Extender? It's not available in DB2 9 for z/OS. That means you won't see an equivalent for DB2 V8 FMID JDB881C. And you won't need IBM Text Search FMID-HIMN230 in DB2 9 for z/OS either, because that was a prerequisite for the DB2 Text Extender.
The above is all specific to DB2 for z/OS. DB2 for LUW 9.5 FP 1 ships the same Omnifind text search server, and DB2 LUW still ships support for their NSE as well.
Now that we've got that all cleared up :-), next we'll evaluate some use cases for text search applicability.[Read More]
I was pointed to this interesting article from the New York Times, about a new technology invented by two software engineers, Jonathan Lindo and Jeffrey Daudel, to be able to "replay" the events that led up to a system crash. Not that I really want to see my "blue screen of death" from yesterday again, but if it would help identify the problem and get a fix, I could probably live through it a couple more times.
Reading the article, I was struck by a couple of points. They quote Lindo as saying that the inspiration came to them as "Wouldn't it be great if we could just TiVo this and replay it?" And then it says this:
Innovation by analogy is a powerful concept, says Giovanni Gavetti, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School who, with his colleague Jan W. Rivkin, has published research on how businesses can use analogic reasoning as a strategic tool. Human beings are analogy machines, he notes, dealing with new information by comparing it to things they already know something about.
That's true, I often try out analogies when I'm trying to understand or explain something. And I can really see how that could lead to innovations, as well as to some odd product evolutions. For a consumer example, I love how the iPhone lets me listen to my voicemail messages in any order, instead of sequentially, which must have been a leftover paradigm from when messages were stored on an analog tape. I can picture someone saying - "why can't I access my messages like I read my email?" - and voila - innovation.
Then I started wondering just how much you could tinker with the crash replay. Could you start eliminating concurrently-running applications, for example, to see if any of them contributed to the crash? And could you test a fix with the replay to see if it fixes the crash?
I also wonder whether IBM's customers would voluntarily seek out software like this to help them narrow down problems. It's not from IBM, and I really don't know any more about it than is in the article above. It's from a company called Replay Solutions, and it runs on several versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system. So, no mainframe support yet (grin). But you could ask them about it!
I heard an interesting story on the news last week, about how the individual states of the U.S. were graded on how they use information. The state I live in, California, got a C+. How can this be, with our advanced technologycenters in Silicon Vallley?
I found the article online here and found some interesting things, although nothing specific about California.
The article says:
Well, that sounds a lot like stuff that I have talked about when describing IBM's Information on Demand strategy. Is your organization good at doing this? I particularly noted the last point in the article, because some of the states complain that their legislators just aren't interested in using the data! Maybe we information professionals have to make that easy (and fun?) to do.
What about the highest-graded states? The article had this to say about one of them:
Yep... this is what everyone wants to know. What did we say we'd do? Did it make a difference? In fact, I've been trying to get this type of information from my financial analyst for some time!
What about states that were graded worse than California?
OK, well, perhaps that is an example of too much information! :-)[Read More]
Announced today: New pricing options for DB2 for z/OS running new workloads! All you data center folks who lament to us that pricing for "other" databases can't be compared to DB2 for z/OS - rejoice!!
Announcing today, and already found here is this gem of a news item tidbit:
IBM is also announcing the immediate availability of DB2 for z/OS Value Unit Edition, which provides a new one-time-charge offering that enables the deployment of new application workloads. This offering strengthens the role of System z as a cornerstone for key business initiatives such as SOA, Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence and packaged applications such as SAP. DB2 for z/OS Value Unit Edition and IBM Information Server enable System z clients to further deliver trusted information for their dynamic warehousing requirements.
Just updated: Here is where you can find the gory details.
Is this cool or what? Doesn't this just remove the last and final objection that the application architects have for leaving DB2 for z/OS out of the running for those new applications?
Now, lest you think I am somehow reflecting a non-developer perspective, look, I have spent most of my efforts in DB2 for z/OS developing the kinds of new technologies designed to attract new workloads, and since even I have heard the pricing objection, isn't it perfectly fair for me to mention this in my DW space? And heck, since I am a developer, not a pricing person by any stretch of the imagination, if this has gotten my attention, you know it's big news!
Bring on those new workloads! And then come to us in development and tell us what you need to bring more work onto z, OK?