Big Data Analytics: Open-Sourced Tools

It is critical that big data analysts are provided with software tools to effectively synthesize large data sets. Various software tools for analyzing big data have emerged in popularity over the past few years. This post will compare and contrast at least 3 software tools that I found most effective in analyzing big data. This discussion includes the advantages and disadvantages each application.

Here are three open source text mining software tools for analyzing unstructured big data:

  1. Carrot2
  2. Weka
  3. Apache OpenNLP.

One of the great things about these three software tools is that they are free.  Thus, there is no cost per each software solution.


A Java based code, which also has a native integration with PHP, and C#/.NET API (Gonzalez-Aguilar & Ramirez Posada, 2012).  Carrot2 can organize a collection of documents into categories based on themes in a visual manner; it can also be used as a web clustering engine. Carpineto, Osinski, Romano, and Weiss (2009) stated that web clustering search engines like Carrot2 help you with fast subtopic retrievals, (i.e. searching for tiger, you can get tiger woods, tigers, Bengals, Bengals football team, etc.), Topic exploration (through a cluster hierarchy), and alleviation information overlook (does more than the first page of results search). The algorithms it uses for categorization is Lingo (Lingo3G), K-mean, and STC, which can support multiple language clustering, synonyms, etc. (Carrot, n.d.).  This software can be used online instead of regular search engines as well (Gonzalez-Aguilar & Ramirez Posada, 2012).  Gonzalez-Aguilar and Ramirez Posada (2012) explain that the interface has three phases for processing information: entry, filtration, and exit.  It represents the cluster data in three visual formats: Heatmap, Network, and pie chart.

The disadvantage of this tool is that it only does clustering analysis, but its advantage is that it can be applied to a search engine to facilitate faster and more accurate searches through its subtopic analysis.  If you would like to use Carrot2 as a search engine, go to and try it out.


It was originally developed for analyzing agricultural data and has evolved to house a comprehensive collection of data preprocessing and modeling techniques (Patel & Donga 2015).  It is a java based machine learning algorithm for data mining tasks as well as text mining that could be used for predictive modeling, housing pre-processing, classification, regression, clustering, association rules, and visualization (Weka, n.d). Weka can be applied to big data (Weka, n.d.) and SQL Databases (Patel & Donga, 2015).

A disadvantage of using this tool is its lack of supporting multi-relational data mining, but if you can link all the multi-relational data into one table, it can do its job (Patel & Donga, 2015). The comprehensiveness of analysis algorithms for both data and text mining and pre-processing is its advantage.

 Apache OpenNLP

A Java code conventional machine learning toolkit, with tasks such as tokenization, sentence segmentation, part-of-speech tagging, named entity extraction, chunking, parsing, and conference resolution (OpenNLP, n.d.) OpenNLP works well with the NetBeans and Eclipse IDE, which helps in the development process.  This tool has dependencies on Maven, UIMA Annotators, and SNAPSHOT.

The advantage of OpenNLP is that specification of rules, constraints, and lexicons don’t need to be entered in manually. Thus, it is a machine learning method which aims to maximize entropy (Buyko, Wermter, Poprat, & Hahn, 2006).  Maximizing entropy allows for collect facts consistently and uniformly.  When the sentence splitter, tokenization, part-of-speech tagging, named entity extraction, chunking, parsing, and conference resolution was tested on two medical corpora, accuracy was up in the high 90%s (Buyko et al., 2006).

This software has high accuracy as its advantage, but also produces quite a bit of false negatives which is its disadvantage.   In the sentence splitter function, it picked up literature citations, and in tokenization, it took specialized characters “-” and “/” (Buyko et al., 2006).


  • Buyko, E., Wermter, J., Poprat, M., & Hahn, U. (2006). Automatically adapting an NLP core engine to the biology domain. In Proceedings of the Joint BioLINK-Bio-Ontologies Meeting. A Joint Meeting of the ISMB Special Interest Group on Bio-Ontologies and the BioLINK Special Interest Group on Text Data M ining in Association with ISMB (pp. 65-68).
  • Carpineto, C., Osinski, S., Romano, G., and Weiss, D. 2009. A survey of web clustering engines. ACM Comput. ´ Surv. 41, 3, Article 17 (July 2009), 38 pages. DOI = 10.1145/1541880.1541884
  • Carrot (n.d.) Open source framework for building search clustering engines. Retrieved from
  • Gonzalez-Aguilar, A. AND Ramirez-Posada, M. (2012): Carrot2: Búsqueda y visualización de la información (in Spanish). El Profesional de la Informacion. Retrieved from
  • openNLP (n.d.) The Apache Software Foundation: OpenNLP. Retrieved from
  • Weka (n.d.) Weka 3: Data Mining Software in Java. Retrieved from
  • Patel, K., & Donga, J. (2015). Practical Approaches: A Survey on Data Mining Practical Tools. Foundations, 2(9).

Big Data Analytics: R

R has proven to be the most effective software tool for analyzing big data. This post will be quick discuss of my evaluation of this tool and its relevance in the big data arena, with respects to text mining.

R is a powerful statistical tool that can aid in data mining.  Thus, it has huge relevance in the big data arena.  Focusing on my project, I have found that R has a text mining package [tm()].

Patal and Donga (2015) and Fayyad, Piatetsky-Shapiro, & Smyth, (1996) say that the main techniques in Data Mining are: anomaly detection (outlier/change/deviation detection), association rule learning (relationships between the variables), clustering (grouping data that are similar to another), classification (taking a known structure to new data), regressions (find a function to describe the data), and summarization (visualizations, reports, dashboards). Whereas, According to Ghosh, Roy, & Bandyopadhyay (2012), the main types of Text Mining techniques are: text categorization (assign text/documents with pre-defined categories), text-clustering (group similar text/documents together), concept mining (discovering concept/logic based ideas), Information retrieval (finding the relevant documents per the query), and information extraction (id key phrases and relationships within the text). Meanwhile, Agrawal and Batra (2013) add: summarization (compressed representation of the input), assessing document similarity (similarities between different documents), document retrieval (id and grabbing the most relevant documents), to the list of text mining techniques.

We use the “library(tm)” to aid in transforming text, stem words, build a term-document matrix, etc. mostly for preprocessing the data (RStudio pubs, n.d.). Based on RStudio pubs (n.d.) some text preprocessing steps and code are as follows:

  • To remove punctuation:

docs <- tm_map(docs, removePunctuation)

  • To remove special characters:

for(j in seq(docs))      {        docs[[j]] <- gsub(“/”, ” “, docs[[j]])        docs[[j]] <- gsub(“@”, ” “, docs[[j]])        docs[[j]] <- gsub(“\\|”, ” “, docs[[j]])     }

  • To remove numbers:

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeNumbers)

  • Convert to lowercase:

docs <- tm_map(docs, tolower)

  • Removing “stopwords”/common words

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeWords, stopwords(“english”))

  • Removing particular words

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeWords, c(“department”, “email”))

  • Combining words that should stay together

for (j in seq(docs)){docs[[j]] <- gsub(“qualitative research”, “QDA”, docs[[j]])docs[[j]] <- gsub(“qualitative studies”, “QDA”, docs[[j]])docs[[j]] <- gsub(“qualitative analysis”, “QDA”, docs[[j]])docs[[j]] <- gsub(“research methods”, “research_methods”, docs[[j]])}

  • Removing coming word endings

library(SnowballC)   docs <- tm_map(docs, stemDocument)

Text mining algorithms could consist of but are not limited to (Zhao, 2013):

  • Summarization:
    • Word clouds use “library (wordcloud)”
    • Word frequencies
  • Regressions
    • Term correlations use “library (ggplot2) use functions findAssocs”
    • Plot word frequencies Term correlations use “library (ggplot2)”
  • Classification models:
    • Decision Tree “library (party)” or “library (rpart)”
  • Association models:
    • Apriori use “library (arules)”
  • Clustering models:
    • K-mean clustering use “library (fpc)”
    • K-medoids clustering use “library(fpc)”
    • Hierarchical clustering use “library(cluster)”
    • Density-based clustering use “library (fpc)”

As we can see, there are current libraries, functions, etc. to help with data preprocessing, data mining, and data visualization when it comes to text mining with R and RStudio.


Big Data Analytics: Installing R

Instructions to download, install, and become familiar with R, which is a free, open-source big data analytics software tool discussed in this week’s post.

I didn’t have any problems with the installation thanks to a video produced by Dr. Webb (2014).  It is a bigger package than what I thought it would be, so it can take a few minutes to download, depending on your download speed and internet connection. Thus,

(1)    For proper installation of R, you need to have administrative access on your computer.

(2)    Watch this video, to get a step-by-step instructions and an online tutorial to installing R and its graphical Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

  1. Note: The application for R 32x and 64x can be found at
  2. Note: The Rstudio free “Desktop” graphical IDE can be found at

(3)    Once installed Use the manual for this application at this site:

Once, I installed the software and the graphical IDE, I continued to follow along with the video to use the prepopulated Cars data under the “datasets” Packages, and I got the same result as shown in the video.  I also would like to note that Dr. Webb (2014) also had checked the Packages: “datasets,” “graphics,” “grDevices,” “methods,” and “stats” in the video, which can be hard to see depending on your video streaming resolution.


Webb, J. (2014). Installing and Using the “R” Programming Language and RStudio. Retrieved from

Big Data Analytics: Hadoop®

Hadoop® is used for distributed computing and can query large data sets based on its reliable and scalable architecture.
Two major components of Hadoop® are the Hadoop® Distributed File System (HFDS) and MapReduce. This post discusses the overall roles of these two components, including their role during system failures.

Hadoop® Distributed File System (HFDS):

HFDS big data is broken up into smaller blocks (IBM, n.d.), which can be aggregated like a set of Legos throughout a distributed database system. Data blocks are distributed across multiple servers.  This block system provides an easy way to scale up or down the data needs of the company and allows for MapReduce to do it tasks on the smaller sets of the data for faster processing (IBM, n.d). Blocks are small enough that they can be easily duplicated (for disaster recovery purposes) in two different servers (or more, depending on your data needs).

Example 1:

An example of HFDS stored data, is to think of a deck of cards, which each card holds information about what it is, value, color, symbol, etc.  HFDS can divide the data into blocks by A, 2, 3 … J, Q, & K, thus each block will hold about four card data each.  Thus, there are 13 distinct data blocks, which have been parsed by their value and placed on 13 different servers.  Let’s also assume I need higher than average availability, so rather than two copies, I need four copies of the J, Q, & K values, and 2 for A, 1, 2 … 10.  This is possible.  Each of the copies could be clustered in similar servers, or each can have one server on its own.  This type of redundancies in my data within HFDS has the benefit of higher availability of my data.  Thus, when I need to analyze my data on my deck of cards, I can say, the important values J, Q, & K have a higher chance of being available than my perceived lower value cards A, 2 … 10.


MapReduce contains two job types that work in parallel on distributed systems: (1) Mappers which creates & processes transactions on the system by mapping/aggregating data by key values, and (2) Reducers which know what that key value is, will take all those values stored in a map and reduce the data to what is relevant (Hortonworks, 2013 & Sathupadi, 2010). Reducers can work on different keys.  Huge amounts of data are entered into MapReduce, then the Mapper maps the data, then the data is shuffled and sorted before it is reduced.  Once the data is reduced, we get the output that we sought.

IBM’s (n.d.) MapReduce functions using the HFDS will run its procedures on the server in which the data is stored (also known as data locality).  Keeping in mind that HFDS has at least two backup copies, if one server goes down, which can happen, it can continue doing the tasks on the same data on a different server that is working.  This backup system for disaster recovery allows for high data availability.

Example 2:

Adjusted from Sathupadi (2010), is to look at how MapReduce can calculate the sum of all of Harvard Law Students and Medical Students current outstanding school loans per degree type.  Thus, the final output from our example would be Juris Doctorate (JD) Students Current Outstanding School Loan Amount and Latin Legum Magister (LLM) Students Current Outstanding School Loan Amount, and Doctor of Medicine (MD) School Loan Amount and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) School Loan Amount.

If I ran this in Hadoop, a single copy of the data can be stored in 50 servers, and thus 50 nodes could be used to process this transaction request in parallel, speeding up the time it would take significantly but not by 50 fold.  The reason as to why not 50 fold is because it takes the time to reduce from mapping and nodes need to talk to each other, which slows down the speed of transaction.  So, running on X amount parallel never really is like saying we are X times faster, in reality, we are X-e times faster (where e is the transaction cost).

The bad data that gets thrown out in the mapper phase would be the Undergraduate Students, Doctorate of Philosophy Students, Master Degree Students, etc.  Only JD, LLM, MD, and DO Students will get one key each assigned to them, keys that are similar to all nodes, so that way the sum of all current outstanding school loan amounts get processed under the correct group.  If data is duplicated at least twice on different servers, if a server were to go down, the MapReduce function will move on to a copy of that data in which can still be mapped and reduced.



Big Data Analytics: Cloud Computing

Cloud technologies and big data technologies have begun to merge and now offer a cost-effective delivery option for cloud-based big data analytics.
This post will discuss the benefits of pay-as-you-go cloud technology services provide to businesses, and organizations. Finally, this post will discuss if clouds technology will/should replace conventional data centers.

Clouds come in three different privacy flavors: Public (all customers and companies share the all same resources), Private (only one group of clients or company can use a particular cloud resources), and Hybrid (some aspects of the cloud are public while others are private depending on the data sensitivity.

Cloud technology encompasses Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).  These types of cloud differ in what the company managers with respect to what is managed by the cloud provider.  For IaaS the company manages the applications, data, runtime, and middleware, whereas the provider administers the O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.  For PaaS the company manages the applications, and data, whereas the vendor, administers the runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.  Finally SaaS the provider manages it all: application, data, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking (Lau, 2011).  This differs from the conventional data centers where the company managed it all: application, data, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.

Examples of IaaS are Amazon Web Services, Rack Space, and VMware vCloud.  Examples of PaaS are Google App Engine, Windows Azure Platform, and Examples of SaaS are Gmail, Office 365, and Google Docs (Lau, 2011).

There are benefits of cloud is this pay-as-you-go business model.  One, the company can pay for as much (SaaS) or as little (IaaS) of the service that they need and how much in space they require. Two, the company can go on an On-Demand model, which businesses can scale up and down as they need (Dikaiakos, Katsaros, Mehra, Pallis, & Vakali, 2009).  For example, if a company would like a development environment for 3 weeks, they can build it up in the cloud for that time period and spend money for using the service for 3 weeks rather than buying a new set of infrastructure and setting up all the libraries.  This can help speed up the development speed in a ton of applications moving forward when you elect the cloud versus buying a new infrastructure.  These models are like renting a car.  Renting a car for what you need, but you are paying for what you use (Lau, 2011).

Replacing Conventional Data Center?

Infrastructure costs are really high.  For a company to be spending that much money on something that will get outdated in 18 months (Moore’s law of technology), it’s just a constant sink in money.  Outsourcing, infrastructure is the first step of company’s movement into the cloud.  However, companies need to understand the different privacy flavors well, because if data is stored in a public cloud, it will be hard to destroy the hardware, because you will destroy not only your data, but other people’s and company’s data.  Private clouds are best for government agencies which may need or require physical destruction of the hardware.  Government agencies may even use hybrid structures, keeping private data in the private clouds and the public stuff in a public cloud.  Companies that contract with the government could migrate to hybrid clouds in the future, and businesses without contracts with the government could go onto a public cloud.  There may always be a need to store the data on a private server, like patents, of KFC’s 7 herbs and spices recipe, but for the majority of the data, personally the cloud may be a grand place to store and work off of.

Note: Companies that do venture into moving into a cloud platform and storing data, they should focus on migrating data and data dictionaries slowly and with uniformity.  Data variables should have the same naming convention, one definition, a list of who is responsible for the data, meta-data, etc.  This would be a great chance for companies, while in migration to a new infrastructure to clean up their data.



Big Data Analytics: Advertising

The concept of marketing and advertising has changed drastically over the past 30 years. Businesses run marketing campaigns differently because of big data analytics. This post aims to do a cursory compare and contrast analysis the marketing methods of the 1980s with the digital marketing methods of today that use big data analytics.

Advertising went from focusing on sales to a consumer focus, to social media advertising, to now trying to establish a relationship with consumers.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s, third party cookies were used on consumers to help deliver information to the company and based on the priority level of those cookies banner ads will appear selling targeted products on other websites (sometimes unrelated to the current search).  Sometimes you don’t even have to click on the banner for the cookies to be stored (McNurlin, Sprague, & Bui, 2008).  McNurlin et al. (2008) then talk about how current consumer shopping data was collected by loyalty cards, through BlockBuster, Publix, Winn-Dixie, etc.

Before all of this in the 1980s-today, company credit cards like a SEARS Master Card could have captured all this data, even though they had a load of other data that was collected that may not have helped them with selling/advertising a particular product mix that they carry.  They would help influence the buyer with giving them store discounts if the card was used in their location to drive more consumption.  Then they could target ads/flyers/sales based on the data they have gathered through each swipe of the card.

Now, in today’s world we can see online profiling coming into existence.  Online profiling is using a person’s online identity to collect information about them, their behaviors, their interactions, their tastes, etc. to drive a targeted advertising (McNurlin et al., 2008).  Online profiling straddles the point of becoming useful, annoying, or “Big Brother is watching” (Pophal, 2014).  Profiling began as third party cookies and have evolved with the times to include 40 different variables that could be sent off from your mobile device when the consumer uses it while they shop (Pophal, 2014).  This online profiling now allows for marketers to send personalized and “perfect” advertisements to the consumer, instantly.  However, as society switches from device to device, marketers must find the best way to continue the consumer’s buying experience without becoming too annoying, which can turn the consumer away from using the app and even buying the product (Pophal, 2014).  The best way to describe this is through this quote by a modern marketer in Phophal (2014): “So if I’m in L.A., and it’s a pretty warm day here-85 degrees-you shouldn’t be showing me an ad for hot coffee; you should be showing me a cool drink.” Marketers are now aiming to build a relationship with the consumers, by trying to provide perceived value to the customer, using these types of techniques.

Amazon tries a different approach, as items get attached to the shopping cart and before purchases, they use aggregate big data to find out what other items this consumer would purchase (Pophal, 2014) and say “Others who purchased X also bought Y, Z, and A.”  This quote, almost implies that these items are a set and will enhance your overall experience, buy some more.