[Humanist] 26.89 data mining

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jun 14 22:17:02 CEST 2012

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 89.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012 08:59:34 -0500
        From: amsler at cs.utexas.edu
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.86 data mining?
        In-Reply-To: <20120613204802.92845281BD3 at woodward.joyent.us>

It strikes me that this is not so much a definition of data mining as  
a description of some methods employed to perform data mining.

It is roughly the same as saying "By gold mining, I mean the use of an  
industrial scale facility for crushing truck-loads of gold ore and  
using a water sluice to separate the crushed rock from the gold  
granules" vs.
"By gold mining, I mean the use of a panning tool kit by an indiviual  
miner wading in a brook of water running downstream".

> In a forthcoming article in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, the
> author says that,
>> By data mining, I mean the activity of fitting a wide variety of
>> models to the data in the opportunistic hope of finding one that fits
>> well.
> How does this definition accord with general usage? Some time ago
> someone (perhaps someone here) made the distinction between two kinds of
> digging: (1) for diamonds and the like, i.e. very careful search for
> precious objects, with the objective of extracting them intact, and (2)
> for iron & similar, i.e. excavating huge quantities of raw ore and dirt,
> then later extracting the desired substance by means of mechanical,
> chemical or thermal processes. The above definition looks like a rather
> different sense, and one for which the metaphor of mining doesn't work
> so well.
> I expect that like many terms we use, usage is quite loose. I suspect
> that "data mining" often means no more than searching for stuff, but
> that it sounds robust, industrial, gritty -- and so real, honest, worthy
> of funding etc. Like "knowledge engineering". Instead of a beanie with a
> propeller on top a hard-hat encrusted with processor chips?
> But if this forthcoming article has nailed an important meaning of the
> term, then it would be good to have some description of how such
> mining is done.
> Yours,
> WM

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