Blog Archives

Product Insights for Airbnb

November 19, 2015
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Product Insights for Airbnb

I love marketplaces and marketplace data, so a couple months ago I grabbed some Airbnb data and made a slide deck. A few people have asked me about it, so here it is along with a short summary. My goal was to gather data around potential product strategy, focusing on the following questions. You can't book a great place if...

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Moving Beyond CTR: Better Recommendations Through Human Evaluation

October 6, 2014
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Moving Beyond CTR: Better Recommendations Through Human Evaluation

Imagine you're building a recommendation algorithm for your new online site. How do you measure its quality, to make sure that it's sending users relevant and personalized content? Click-through rate may be your initial hope…but after a bit of thought, it's not clear that it's the best metric after all. Take Google's search engine. In many cases, improving the quality...

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Propensity Modeling, Causal Inference, and Discovering Drivers of Growth

August 14, 2014
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Propensity Modeling, Causal Inference, and Discovering Drivers of Growth

Imagine you just started a job at a new company. You watched World War Z recently, so you're in a skeptical mood, and given that your last two startups failed from what you believe to be a lack of data, you're giving everything an extra critical eye. You start by thinking about the impact of the sales team. How...

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Improving Twitter Search with Real-Time Human Computation

January 7, 2013
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(This is a post from the Twitter Engineering Blog that I wrote with Alpa Jain.) One of the magical things about Twitter is that it opens a window to the world in real-time. An event happens, and just seconds later, it’s shared for people across the planet to see. Consider, for example, what happened when...

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Edge Prediction in a Social Graph: My Solution to Facebook’s User Recommendation Contest on Kaggle

July 31, 2012
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Edge Prediction in a Social Graph: My Solution to Facebook’s User Recommendation Contest on Kaggle

A couple weeks ago, Facebook launched a link prediction contest on Kaggle, with the goal of recommending missing edges in a social graph. I love investigating social networks, so I dug around a little, and since I did well enough to score one of the coveted prizes, I’ll share my approach here. (For some background, the contest provided...

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Soda vs. Pop with Twitter

July 6, 2012
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Soda vs. Pop with Twitter

One of the great things about Twitter is that it’s a global conversation anyone can join anytime. Eavesdropping on the world, what what! Of course, it gets even better when you can mine all this chatter to study the way humans live and interact. For example, how do people in New York City differ from those in Silicon Valley? We...

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Infinite Mixture Models with Nonparametric Bayes and the Dirichlet Process

March 19, 2012
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Infinite Mixture Models with Nonparametric Bayes and the Dirichlet Process

Imagine you’re a budding chef. A data-curious one, of course, so you start by taking a set of foods (pizza, salad, spaghetti, etc.) and ask 10 friends how much of each they ate in the past day. Your goal: to find natural groups of foodies, so that you can better cater to each cluster’s tastes. For example, your...

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Instant Interactive Visualization with d3 + ggplot2

March 4, 2012
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Instant Interactive Visualization with d3 + ggplot2

It’s often easier to understand a chart than a table. So why is it still so hard to make a simple data graphic, and why am I still bombarded by mind-numbing reams of raw numbers? (Yeah, I love ggplot2 to death. But sometimes I want a little more interaction, and sometimes all I want is to drag-and-drop...

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Movie Recommendations and More via MapReduce and Scalding

February 8, 2012
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Movie Recommendations and More via MapReduce and Scalding

Scalding is an in-house MapReduce framework that Twitter recently open-sourced. Like Pig, it provides an abstraction on top of MapReduce that makes it easy to write big data jobs in a syntax that’s simple and concise. Unlike Pig, Scalding is written in pure Scala – which means all the power of Scala and the JVM is already built-in....

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Quick Introduction to ggplot2

January 17, 2012
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Quick Introduction to ggplot2

For a much better looking version of this post (where code is actually readable!), see this Github repository, which also contains some of the example datasets I use and a literate programming version of this tutorial. Introduction This is a bare-bones introduction to ggplot2, a visualization package in R. It assumes no knowledge of R

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