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The blocks and rows theory of data shaping

We have our latest note on the theory of data wrangling up here. It discusses the roles of “block records” and “row records” in the cdata data transform tool. With that and the theory of how to design transforms, we think we have a pretty complete description of the system.

Rowrecs to blocks

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Designing Transforms for Data Reshaping with cdata

Authors: John Mount, and Nina Zumel 2018-10-25

As a followup to our previous post, this post goes a bit deeper into reasoning about data transforms using the cdata package. The cdata packages demonstrates the "coordinatized data" theory and includes an implementation of the "fluid data" methodology for general data re-shaping.

cdata adheres to the so-called "Rule of Representation":

Fold knowledge into data, so program logic can be stupid and robust.

The Art of Unix Programming, Erick S. Raymond, Addison-Wesley , 2003

The design principle expressed by this rule is that it is much easier to reason about data than to try to reason about code, so using data to control your code is often a very good trade-off.

We showed in the last post how cdata takes a transform control table to specify how you want your data reshaped. The question then becomes: how do you come up with the transform control table?

Let’s discuss that using the example from the previous post: "plotting the iris data faceted".

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Faceted Graphs with cdata and ggplot2

In between client work, John and I have been busy working on our book, Practical Data Science with R, 2nd Edition. To demonstrate a toy example for the section I’m working on, I needed scatter plots of the petal and sepal dimensions of the iris data, like so:

Unnamed chunk 1 1

I wanted a plot for petal dimensions and sepal dimensions, but I also felt that two plots took up too much space. So, I thought, why not make a faceted graph that shows both:

Unnamed chunk 2 1

Except — which columns do I plot and what do I facet on?

head(iris)
##   Sepal.Length Sepal.Width Petal.Length Petal.Width Species
## 1          5.1         3.5          1.4         0.2  setosa
## 2          4.9         3.0          1.4         0.2  setosa
## 3          4.7         3.2          1.3         0.2  setosa
## 4          4.6         3.1          1.5         0.2  setosa
## 5          5.0         3.6          1.4         0.2  setosa
## 6          5.4         3.9          1.7         0.4  setosa

Here’s one way to create the plot I want, using the cdata package along with ggplot2.

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cdata Update

The R package cdata now has version 0.7.0 available from CRAN.

cdata is a data manipulation package that subsumes many higher order data manipulation operations including pivot/un-pivot, spread/gather, or cast/melt. The record to record transforms are specified by drawing a table that expresses the record structure (called the “control table” and also the link between the key concepts of row-records and block-records).

What can be quickly specified and achieved using these concepts and notations is amazing and quite teachable. These transforms can be run in-memory or in remote database or big-data systems (such as Spark).

The concepts are taught in Nina Zumel’s excellent tutorial.


Untitled

And in John Mount’s quick screencast/lecture.

link, slides

The 0.7.0 update adds local versions of the operators in addition to the Spark and database implementations. These methods should now be a bit safer for in-memory complex/annotated types such as dates and times.

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Wanted: cdata Test Pilots

I need a few volunteers to please “test pilot” the development version of the R package cdata, please.

Jackie Cochran at 1938 Bendix Race
Jacqueline Cochran: at the time of her death, no other pilot held more speed, distance, or altitude records in aviation history than Cochran.

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Data Reshaping with cdata

I’ve just shared a short webcast on data reshaping in R using the cdata package.

(link)

We also have two really nifty articles on the theory and methods:

Please give it a try!

This is the material I recently presented at the January 2017 BARUG Meetup.

NewImage

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Big cdata News

I have some big news about our R package cdata. We have greatly improved the calling interface and Nina Zumel has just written the definitive introduction to cdata.

cdata is our general coordinatized data tool. It is what powers the deep learning performance graph (here demonstrated with R and Keras) that I announced a while ago.

KerasPlot

However, cdata is much more than that.

Continue reading Big cdata News

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Arbitrary Data Transforms Using cdata

We have been writing a lot on higher-order data transforms lately:

Cdata

What I want to do now is "write a bit more, so I finally feel I have been concise."

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Data Wrangling at Scale

Just wrote a new R article: “Data Wrangling at Scale” (using Dirk Eddelbuettel’s tint template).

Fd

Please check it out.

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More documentation for Win-Vector R packages

The Win-Vector public R packages now all have new pkgdown documentation sites! (And, a thank-you to Hadley Wickham for developing the pkgdown tool.)

Please check them out (hint: vtreat is our favorite).

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