Online Courses

8 Best Free Data Mining Online Courses : Updated List

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It is the nature of human beings to dislike and fear change. However, the nature of the world is such that change is unavoidable. In the modern world, there has been much application of technology to try and predict future trends.

One such way to do this is to compile and analyze large data sets so as to spot patterns, confirm relationships to solve existing problems and anticipate future ones.

This is nothing but data mining. Data mining tools were developed to help organizations foresee future trends and organize action plans accordingly. It has been applied to reduce risk, increase revenues, upgrade performance, and cut costs and to tweak activities so as to remain adaptable, dynamic and competitive.

Today, data makes the world go round. Data has evolved to “Big Data”, that is, data which is simply too massive and dynamic to be analyzed by traditional data analyzing tools.

A data mining expert looks for hidden particulars in colossal quantities of data, come to a conclusion on its significance and meaning and interpret how best the organization can use this to its advantage.

Data mining is one of the most exciting and dynamic job descriptions in the data science field. If you want to get an idea of this discipline before you seriously invest your time and energy, you are in luck!

Many of the most prestigious universities in the world offer free courses online for everyone from absolute beginners, professionals wishing to transition into this field and for the experts. Here are some of the best ones around to get you started:

Stanford University – Mining Massive Datasets

This is currently the best online course for students from all backgrounds and levels who wish to get a practical idea of data mining.

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The course is completely free and self paced.

The time investment required is seven weeks, with an average of eight to ten hours of study required per week.

The course provides a certificate on completion.

All the course resources are available for free download, whether or not you opt for this course.

The course covers MapReduce, distributed file systems, various algorithms to extract models and information from gigantic datasets. It then proceeds to locality sensitive hashing, dimensionality reduction, and several more advanced concepts.

One key take away from this course is how Google’s PageRank algorithm actually rates websites based on their significance. This is a great case study of advanced level data mining tools and algorithms in action.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Text Mining and Analytics

The course is offered on the Coursera platform.

It will require a time investment of six weeks at an average of five to ten hours every week. The next lesson begins on 15th October 2018.

The course is completely free. However, a certificate is available only on payment. You can also opt for financial aid to cover costs.

The course focuses on statistical approaches which may be applied to erratic or inconsistent data in the form of text with little or no human intervention.

The course will help you develop strong concepts in comprehending natural language text. Computers often struggle with understanding patterns and spotting relevant knowledge in human languages.

Application based teaching will cover principles, concepts and algorithms, and their practical applications.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Pattern Discovery in Data Mining

The course is offered on the Coursera platform.

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It will require a time investment of four weeks at an average of four to six hours every week.

The course goes over basic application and methodologies of data mining concepts before transitioning to a specialized field within data mining known as pattern discovery.

The syllabus covers sequential patterns,  using study methods to mine various sorts of patterns, sub graph patterns, scalable pattern discovery and its applications.

University of Waikato (New Zealand) – Data Mining with Weka

The course is hosted on the FutureLearn platform.

The course is available online for free. However, the certificate requires payment of a sum.

The course requires a time investment of five weeks with an average of three hours per week.

This is one of the best options for students who do not have prior programming knowledge. The only prerequisite is high school level mathematics and elementary statistics.

The course focuses on practical applications of data mining through the Weka workbench. Students will download the open source Weka software in the first week of the course to proceed.

It teaches the principles of data mining algorithms most in use today and equips the student with practical experience so that he can mine data himself.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Cluster Analysis in Data Mining

The course is offered in the Coursera platform.

It is offered for free online but to get a certificate you need to pay a certain amount. Financial aid options are available.

The course requires a time investment of four weeks with an average of four to six hours of study time per week.

It begins with foundational concepts of cluster analysis and then proceeds to advanced concepts such as algorithms, typical cluster methodologies, and applications.

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Key takeaways are partitioning methods (k-means), hierarchical methods (BIRCH), density based methods (DBSCAN/OPTICS), cluster validation and cluster quality evaluation.

In the end, practical applications of cluster analysis are demonstrated.

Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur – Data Mining

This free, online course is offered on the NPTEL platform

It requires a time investment of eight weeks

The course is taught by a tenured professor of the institute and is an acclaimed engineer and author of a celebrated book on Data Mining, apart from contributions to international journals.

The prerequisites are a strong foundation in undergraduate level engineering, mathematics and physics.

The course is widely supported by tech industry giants such as TCS, Infosys, CTS and Accenture

The courses covered above are the best for basics. Once you have completed them and want to proceed further, you need more advanced options.

There are also some very informative and in depth courses on data mining for intermediate and advanced students. They too are free but provide the option of obtaining certification. A few are mentioned below:

The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign – Data Mining Project

University of Waikato (New Zealand) – More Data Mining with Weka

University of Waikato (New Zealand) – Advanced Data Mining with Weka

Today, data mining is mostly used by organizations which require customer behavior analysis and prediction to drive revenues. Google, Facebook, and Amazon are some tech giants whose entire business model is dependent on extracting and understanding customer data and then driving personalized ads or products and services to them.

It is also used in space science, medical research and intelligence operations. A data mining analyst can expect to earn an average salary of $60,000 and upwards, regardless of his level of experience.

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