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December 23rd, 2015, 02:11 PM   #1
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From: New York, USA

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Becoming A Data Scientist

I see this forum rarely gets posts, so I'm not expecting help, but I'm posting just in case. First, I will start by stating what math I know. Obviously, to do some of these things I could use a graphing calculator and/or Microsoft Excel.

Basic calculus with one variable: I can do derivatives and integrals of polynomials and calculate the area under a curve. I have my Calculus textbooks. Even though I might be able to learn it, I don't want to do anything that requires multi-variable calculus. I know that to find a relative maximum or minimum you set the derivative equal to 0.

Systems of linear equations: Two or three variables would be easy. I've done six variable many years ago, and I think I could do that now, but not quickly. Of course, I could do it quickly using a website that can solve systems of equations. I have not taken any courses specifically in Linear Algebra.

Probability and Statistics: I know the basics of permutations, combinations, probability with and without replacement, and working with independent or dependent events. I understand correlations and sometimes gather data on my own, guess the direction of the relationship (positive or negative correlation), and see if I'm right. I can calculate means and standard deviations and use the Normal Distribution Table for percentiles. I still have a book from Advanced Placement statistics and a college statistics book. I recently could do okay at the Advanced Placement Statistics multiple choice questions, but I would need to re-learn hypothesis testing and other problems where you show work. I have not studied multi-variable statistics but I'm interested in it. I briefly studied the chi-square distribution years ago, but I don't know anything about the chi-square, Poisson, Weibull, or other distributions. I am willing to learn other distributions.

Computer Programming: I read the basics of R but I didn't like it because it wasn't helpful at telling a user what he or she was doing wrong. I studied basic computer science in high school. I don't remember much, but I remember that a printer cannot print 5 copies, but it can print 1 copy 5 times using a loop like this:

Start program
Let x = 0
Start loop
Print 1 copy
Let x = x + 1
If x = 5, exit the loop
Go back to the beginning of the loop
End loop
End program

I am willing to learn computer programming, but it wouldn't be useful to know one programming language when most employers use a different programming language.

Algebra: I can use the quadratic formula. I can factor quadratic equations if the coefficient of x^2 is 1 (if the coefficient is greater than 1, I would rather use the quadratic formula). I know that the highest exponent of x is the number of solutions there will be and that solutions can be equal to each other and can be real or imaginary. I can multiply binomials.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. I've forgotten a lot of Economics, but I still have my Economics books.

I read the book Discovering Knowledge in Data: An Introduction to Data Mining by Daniel T. LaRose. I remember a little of it. The book gave a sample phone company that discovers that the customers leaving the company were more likely to have been paying for the international calling plan than the customers who stayed. I found that interesting, and you should find your job interesting. Obviously, in any industry that is not a monopoly, every company will inevitably have customers coming and going, but it isn't smart for a company to look at customers who leave as inevitable and not think about why the customers are leaving.

I can't travel and cannot take more classes in a physical college. I am willing to learn on my own or through a small number of courses that are entirely online. I would rather not take an online degree program that lasts months or years both because I would rather work than study and because I don't have much money for tuition. I understand that I have no data science work experience and I'm willing to take a job that doesn't pay much.

Last edited by skipjack; December 23rd, 2015 at 02:33 PM.
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December 23rd, 2015, 02:36 PM   #2
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As you can't travel to take classes, is it also the case that you can't travel to reach your place of work?
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December 24th, 2015, 09:40 AM   #3
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From: New York, USA

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Originally Posted by skipjack View Post
As you can't travel to take classes, is it also the case that you can't travel to reach your place of work?
I can travel, but less far than many people near me who work in New York City (the New York under my join month on the left refers to New York state, not New York City). I have looked online at offerings at nearby universities and did not find any degrees solely in statistics and/or data science.

Last edited by EvanJ; December 24th, 2015 at 10:01 AM.
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