Sunday, May 31, 2009

Statistics and DBAs

Statistics and DBA work really are two different disciplines, although from the outside we're both numbers people. I've learned the hard way that there's a lot that I don't know about how to set up a database. Likewise, I've had some database people push some very strange ideas about how to do analysis.

Take random samples. Unless I can actually see the code used to make random samples, I'd rather do random sampling myself. My favorite example of the problem was "we randomly gave you data from California".

Time sensitivity is another issue. I was making a customer attrition study for a cell phone company. We wanted to look at attrition over a year, so we needed customer data from the start of the year and we see how it effects attrition. What happened was that the database people, instead of following our instructions gave us customer data from the end of the year instead of start.

Why? "Don't you want the most current data possible?" It's the nature of reporting to get the most current data possible for the report, and understanding statistical analysis that will often require data from the past is a little alien to that way of thinking.

No comments: