Monday, February 23, 2015

Weighted trust graph for authentication

During the hackathon (discussed in earlier post), I met with Gary.  He had come in to be play mentor, but since he couldn't devote enough time, ended up being a guest.

After engaging Neo4J in few meetups and understanding the database a bit, i was contemplating using Graph databases for authentication.  It might have consequent applications in fraud analytics too, where graph databases are used already[1]

During the discussion on the idea, Gary suggested to mould the idea differently and possibly using Trust networks/graphs, wherein each node (entities i.e. people, organisations etc) are related to each other through weighted directed relationships.  The weight of this relationship can be deduced in multiple ways, e.g. by periodic algorithms similar to search engine ranking algorithms or by asking people their trust level of others on a scale of 1 to x. x being a hypothetical standard scale that can be used as a yardstick across the network for determining level of trust.

While researching some more, I found that similar research has been done in this space [2], though applications are few to come by.

It was also pointed out in the discussion that banks don't really have a huge interest in preventing this crime.  the view was, since banks already provision for certain amount in their balance sheets for these "potential" thefts, they don't really bother so much.

I believe that the financial institutions as a single unit need to attack these fraud crimes by joining hands and leveraging best of research and technology for minimising the crime.  The technology exists for providing unto the moment information on these events, some more innovation and research is needed that can bring together the whole picture and look like a "solution"





[1]http://info.neotechnology.com/rs/neotechnology/images/Fraud%20Detection%20Using%20GraphDB%20-%202014.pdf?_ga=1.182367911.1656585956.1417700858
[2]http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.212.9978&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hackathon - Fintechathon

A hackathon is a hacking marathon wherein many people are invited to attack problems around a theme.

I recently attended a hackathon over the valentines weekend.  Organised by StartupBootCamp Fintech, it was attended by about 100 people. Many ideas, many teams, some partners i.e. corporates with their own challenges.

I was initially team less, but then found some others who were in in my situation.  We formed a team,  around my favourite topic, data analytics.  We had two business development guys, Adam and Oksana, two java programmers, Nelson and Nick, and a mobile app developer Vlad.  

Hackathon teams are formed around ideas, wherein someone with an idea takes on the ownership, and the collects the team around it.  Things are focussed from moment one, and the march forward is fairly disciplined and fast, thats why the name hackathon... keep hacking, for long, long days and nights.

We, had the other way round.. all of us were teamless and therefore put together as a team. We had no idea to start with.  As a result of that, we spent better part of the friday evening and saturday zeroing on the problem to attack.  

Finally we decided to go ahead with an data analytics piece. I won't chalk out the details here, but its something that the marketing guys always love and like.  To know when their customers are off to a life event, and therefore could be offered some product.

By Sunday morning, we had lost two team members, one to a different idea and one to sleep. Vlad hadn't slept in 4 nights, so he kept sleeping much of Sunday.

As a result, we ended up a team without anyone who could do any UI design, and therefore only some backend API calls, some analytics pieces and nothing to show off.

The result was that, we couldn't show any working model in our pitch presentation and had to contend with a presentation only, which tried to describe our idea to the judges.

Of course we lost, but then it was a very nicely spent weekend, met some very nice people, made some contacts, and possibly a future for the idea.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Playing with R

Since early 2013, when I got to know of possible online learning for R through www.coursera.com, I have been a fan of this language.

My teachers in college would probably not like to hear this, but I was never  a great Statistics student, it was always a "passing" requirement during my studies. However, when I learned about R and did some experimental work with R, i found that stats is indeed a very interesting and powerful mathematical tool. And with R i found it fun too, which in my personal opinion is the root of an ongoing learning process.  If learning is not fun, it stops.  

For me, laying my hands on RStudio was the best thing that happened to me around the statistics learning curve.  The tool makes your R learning curve so much more easy and possible, the college could never do that.

As an example, in college we could never realise real life examples and uses of regression, curve fitting etc.  However, now using R, it all makes so much more sense and with lot of ease. 

I can't put a finger on the clear reason, whether the years have added that capacity to understand the subject, or the very fact that today these kinds of tools exist which let you explore that area with so much straightforward ease, but the fact remains. It has become so much easy, relatively, to get your hands on the power of statistics and analytics with tools like.

Thats probably one reason, why i am getting more and more inclined towards data analytics. Its a very powerful and interesting area, with huge potential towards shaping our future.