Data analysis: It’s like a puzzle that someone messed with

Jeff Jonas, Chief Scientist, Entity Analytics, IBM at Structure:Data 2012

Jeff Jonas, Chief Scientist, Entity Analytics, IBM at Structure:Data 2012

(c) 2012 Pinar Ozger.

How does an IBM Distinguished Engineer get new insights about data analysis? In the case of Jeff Jonas, Chief Scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics Group, it’s been all about puzzles.

Jonas told his audience at GigaOM’s Structure:Data conference that he’s been recruiting family members for a number of puzzle experiments over the last few months. “My girlfriend sees her son and his cousins — I see three parallel processing pipelines,” he joked.

Jonas’ experiments included omitting 50 percent of the pieces of a puzzle, introducing pieces from other puzzles to add false positives and throwing duplicates from a second set of the same puzzle into the mix. Turns out, nothing can fool a few dedicated teenagers set on solving a puzzle… not even a slightly evil data analytics engineer.

So what did Jonas and his test subjects learn from this? Context matters, as it gives you better predictions, regardless of whether you deal with pieces of a puzzle or vast amounts of data. Also, moments of deep reflection can be really valuable, and offer new insights on existing data. And finally: Real-time analysis of data offers competitive advantages because participants can respond when it matters most – and that’s valuable to both teenage puzzle players and companies using big data.

Watch the livestream of Structure:Data here.

Watch live streaming video from gigaombigdata at

Comments have been disabled for this post