Christophe Suzor in France my personal blog, a place to speak out in public

6Dec/10Off

Humans understand results, computers just handle data

In my work I often deal with, or I help others deal with, significant volumes of data, with the goal of identifying trends or correlations or to validate a hypothesis.

Too often, there is a tendency to let the automated software find a result, and then trust that result as a mathematical fact and the solution to the problem, which is neither well defined nor sufficiently bounded. In the wrong hands, sophisticated analysis tools lead to the wrong conclusions. It's like teaching a kid how to use a calculator before teaching the 4 basic math operations. Or teaching a teenager the formula for standard deviation without explaining the principles behind a normal distribution.

When a computer produces a result that the human driving that computer, as the owner of the data, does not fully understand, the result is probably junk for the problem the human is trying to solve.

The corollary is that the correct result should be understood by the human that owns the data and posed the problem to be solved by the computer. Fundamental stuff worth remembering.

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