Live football game analysis

December 23rd, 2013 • Comments Off

Note: I’m talking about American Football here :-)

In previous posts I already showed how game statistics can be used to automatically which Wide receiver is the Qb’s favorite on which play, down and field position. Now let’s take this one step further and create a little system (using Suricate) which will make suggestions to a Defense Coordinator.

The following diagram will guide through the steps needed to create such a system:

Live game breakdown (Click to enlarge)

Live game breakdown (Click to enlarge)

Let’s start at the top. (Step 1) The User of Suricate will start with performing some simple steps. First a bunch of game statistics are uploaded (same as using in this post). Next also a stream is defined. In this case a URI for an AMQP broker (using CloudAMQP – RabbitMQ as a Service) is defined in the service. With this used defined data is provide to the service.

(Step 2) Now we start creating an analytics notebook. Suricate provides an interactive python console via your web browser which can easily be used to explore the data previously uploaded. Python Pandas and scikit-learn are both available within the Suricate service and can be used right away to accomplish this task:

Exploring game statistics (Click to enlarge)

Exploring game statistics (Click to enlarge)

Based on the data we can create a model which describes on which down, on which fieldposition a run or a pass play is performed. We can also store who is the favorite Wide receiver/Running back for those plays (see also). All this information is stored in a JSON data structure and saved using the SDK of Suricate (Step 3).

(Step 4) Now a little external python script needs to be written which grabs relatively ‘live’ game data from e.g. here. This script now simple continuously sends messages to the previously defined RabbitMQ broker. The messages contain the current play, fieldposition and distance togo information.

(Step 5) Now a processing python notebook needs to be written. This is a rather simple python script. It takes the new incoming messages and compares them to the model learned in step 2 & 3. Based on that suggestions can be displayed (Step 6a) – “e.g. watch out for Wes Welker on 3rd and long at own 20y line” or just some percentages for pass or run plays:

Processing notebook (Click to enlarge)

Processing notebook (Click to enlarge)

Next the information about the new play can be added to the game statics data file (Step 6b). Once this is done a new model can be created (Step 7) to get the most up to date models all the time.

With this overall system new incoming data is streamed in (continuous analytics), models updated and suggestions for a Defense Coordinator outputted. Disclaimer: some steps describe here are not yet in the github repository of suricate – most namely the continuously running of scripts.

Peyton’s favorite WO (Analytics-as-a-Service)

November 17th, 2013 • 1 Comment

Again a little excerpt on stuff you can do with the help of Suricate. Again we’ll look at play-by-play statistics. So no information on which play was performed, but just the outcomes of the plays. Still there is some information you can retrieve from that. Most importantly because it can be done automated without user interaction needed. Just upload the file, press a button and get the results:

Peyton's favorites (Click to enlarge)

Peyton’s favorites (Click to enlarge)

This time you are looking are a cluster analysis of players Peyton passed too in the game of week 1. First cluster represent players passed to on 1,2 & 3 down with up to 6 yards. The second cluster the goto-guys which did go for medium yardage and finally the WOs able to get a bunch of yards on the board.

So with simple scripts (few lines of code – which can be reused) it is possible to abstract information from just play-to-play statistics. I guess mostly important to Defense Coordinators who would love to get some information on the fly with the press of a button :-)

Peyton’s favorite WR in week 1 (Analytics-as-a-Service)

November 9th, 2013 • 2 Comments

A few line lines of Python code, a big CSV file, some help of Python PandasSuricate and about 20 minutes is all it takes to answer the following Question:

Who was Peyton Manning’s favorite receiver during the match-up between Denver and Baltimore in week 1 of the 2013 NFL season?

The answer is simple: Wes Welker :-) See the complete graph below…

Peyton's favorite

Peyton’s favorite (Click to enlarge)

Now it would be cool to find a source to stream the data into Suricate (which supports this) and get live up to date charts…but that is for another day.

Analytics as a Service

October 15th, 2013 • 2 Comments

With this blog post I try to summarize some key concepts/definitions of something called an Analytics-as-a-Service (AaaS).  The AaaS – named Suricate – described in this post , was developed as part of my Masterthesis. The Masterthesis was about learning application/service behavior and then be able to abstract models from that, to create agile systems/strategies. This could reach from simple fault-detection up to reconfigurations (e.g. auto scaling) of the application/service instance of the platform (Cloud/whatever) it runs upon. Originally it was used to take data aggregated from DTrace using Python, parse models from it using scikit-learn, continuously compare (and update) models with new incoming data, and finally process/take actions. This process requires sometimes user interactions (from Data Scientist or whatever you wanna call them) as can be seen in the following diagram:

Learning Process (Click to enlarge)

Learning Process (Click to enlarge)

Eventually, when my Masterthesis was done (with much more in it then just the development of Suricate in it – talking algorithms/concepts to create models etc), I thought it could serve some more general purpose. In short (tl;dr :-) ) Suricate:

  • allows you to upload or stream data so the Service can aggregate it.
  • allows a Data Scientist to perform Analytics and visualize the results.
  • supports the processing and acting (trigger actions) on the analysis and thereby the creation of continuously adjusted agile Systems & Strategies based on up-to-date insights.

Concepts of an Analytics as a Service

The following diagram shows a conceptual overview of Suricate, which will be used to explain some key concepts of an AaaS.

Overview of Suricate - Analytics as a Service

Overview of Suricate – Analytics as a Service (Click to enlarge)

Overall the four main concepts for an AaaS therefore are:

  1. Aggregate - Supplying user defined data: Stream data into the service or upload the data in an internal or external Storage (Object, Relational, etc). The data can then be aggregated, pre-processed and cached.
  2. Interact - Supplying user defined logic (this is where the IP is in – create marketplace for this if you want :-)): Use Python interactive scripting capabilities to perform analytics and visualize (visualizations are sometimes key to understanding :-)) the results. The Data Scientist can interact with the Service via a Web UI or REST API.
  3. Compute - Uses other services (potentially compute or things like Hadoop) to perform the computational aspect of the analytics.
  4. ActProcess the learned models and trigger actions on insights gained, to create agile Systems & Strategies.

Other example of AaaS are Quantopian or DataHero btw. There are plenty of other around, but most of them are focused on Business Analytics. But sometimes the streaming data & ‘Acting’ part is missing from all of them. When running Suricate one is first greeted with the overview page. Those ’tiles’ reflecting the main concepts of an AaaS:

Suricate entry (Click to enlarge)

Suricate entry (Click to enlarge)

In the data page, files can be uploaded as objects and AMQP streams can be defined:

Suricate data sources (Click to enlarge)

Suricate data sources (Click to enlarge)

In the Analytics part notebooks – just like with IPython - can be written. Within these notebooks toolkits such as matplotlib, scikit-learn or Python Pandas can easily be used. Using these toolkits models can be created within this part and stored again as objects (or even use them to retrieve/download data from somewhere). Also packages to enable faster computation of models can be integrated, as a full Python interpreter is at hands. Python is an ideal language for data processing/analytics and learning btw [1], [2] – although R could be integrated too.

Suricate Analytics - model creation (Click to enlarge)

Suricate Analytics – model creation (Click to enlarge)

The Processing part looks similar to the Analytics part. Again notebooks can be created. But these notebooks now use the models created earlier, to compare them with new incoming data (from AMQP) streams and take actions accordingly.

Suricate processing (Click to enlarge)

Suricate processing (Click to enlarge)

It is noted here that both the processing and the Analytics notebooks can be triggered externally (through an API), and therefore create a true continuously Analytics framework.

Suricate’s source code is available (without warranty – Open Source – in early stages etc. as it is mainly a Demonstrator/PoC for my thesis) on GitHub. Feel free to extent it etc. It happily runs on PaaS like OpenShift as it is an simple WSGI application.

Learn Service Behaviour

July 16th, 2013 • Comments Off

This started off as just an idea in my head a while ago and soon become my Master thesis. The idea is to apply Machine Learning/Data Analysis methodologies to Data derived from tools such as DTrace. Based on the learned knowledge it would then be possible to create adaptive/agile systems. For example to balance out your workload as a service provider overnight. Or move your compute close to your data. Or to learn how to best configure your system (by using Software Defined Networking). Or to simple tune your threshold values in your monitoring system etc. Or you name it – it might be doable.

After finally finishing my Master thesis – doing that next to work is quite a challenge I can tell now :-) – I can certainly say that some stuff can indeed be learned. During the work on my thesis I sketched out a, in browser programmable (Python of course :-)), Analytics as a Service (I just like the acronym for it :-)) which can be used learn from Data derived from DTrace (See 1).

As a first step it is useful to select the resources you want to look at. The should have a relevance to the behavior of the applications and services. The USE Method demoed by Brendan Gregg might be a good start. Once you know what you want to look for it is possible to gather some data. For example using the DTrace consumer for Python (See 2), like I did. Cool think is now that thanks to Python you can send it around (pika), store it (MongoDB, sqlite) and process it (scikit-learn) easily. Just add a few API for abstraction, a rich web application for creating python notebooks and you have the Analytics as a Service.

Now we can work through the data with some simple steps.

  • Step 1 – Analyze the time series you got with some first methods. This could reach from calculating means, averages, etc over smoothing or regression analyses to looking into correlations in the data. Now you will have a good knowledge of which time series are interesting for further analysis.
  • Step 2 – Cluster the applications/services based on the data points to get an first overview of how they fit together. Again simple k-means clustering can be an initial step. Remember sometimes the simplest methods are the best :-)
  • Step 3 – Based on what has been learned till now try to apply mechanism to analyze the covariance/correlation between the applications/services. Once done you get a nice graph which represents behavior of your overall environment.
  • Step 4 – Go beyond the simple and try to build Bayesian networks on what you got now. Go look at decision trees if possible to try build that adaptive/agile system.
  • Step 5 – Well as usual the sky might actually be the limit.

Results of each of the steps can be seen as models which can be compared with new incoming data from DTrace. Based on the ‘intelligence’ of the comparison of the new date with the learn model (knowledge) the adaptive/agile system can be build. Continuously updating your learned model in the learning process is key – we don’t want to ‘predict’ the future using a crystal ball. This is just the tip of the iceberg of all stuff worked on and discovered in my Master thesis – but as usual – so little time so much to do :-) But maybe I’ll find some time soon to sketch out the learning process and share some details of what I was able to let the computer learn…

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