The Data Science Handbook
This book was written to solve a problem. The people who I interview for data science jobs have sterling mathematical pedigrees, but most of them are unable to write a simple script that computes Fibonacci numbers (in case you aren’t familiar with Fibonacci numbers, this takes about five lines of code). On the other side, employers tend to view data scientists as either mysterious wizards or used‐car salesmen (and when data scientists can’t be trusted to write a basic script, the latter impression has some merit!). These problems reflect a fundamental misunderstanding, by all parties, of what data science is (and isn’t) and what skills its practitioners need.
When I first got into data science, I was part of that problem. Years of doing academic physics had trained me to solve problems in a way that was long on abstract theory but short on common sense or flexibility. Mercifully, I also knew how to code (thanks, Google™ internships!), and this let me limp along while I picked up the skills and mindsets that actually mattered. Since leaving academia, I have done data science consulting for companies of every stripe. This includes web traffic analysis for tiny start‐ups, manufacturing optimizations for Fortune 100 giants, and everything in between. The problems to solve are always unique, but the skills required to solve them are strikingly universal. They are an eclectic mix of computer programming, mathematics, and business savvy. They are rarely found together in one person, but in truth they can be learned by anybody.
A few interviews I have given stand out in my mind. The candidate was smart and knowledgeable, but the interview made it painfully clear that they were unprepared for the daily work of a data scientist. What do you do as an interviewer when the candidate starts apologizing for wasting your time? We ended up filling the hour with a crash course on what they were missing and how they could go out and fill the gaps in their knowledge. They went out, learned what they needed to, and are now successful data scientists.
I wrote this book in an attempt to help people like that out, by condensing data science’s various skill sets into a single, coherent volume. It is hands‐on and to the point: ideal for somebody who needs to come up to speed quickly or solve a problem on a tight deadline. The educational system has not yet caught up to the demands of this new and exciting field, and my hope is that this book will help you bridge the gap.
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