Mark Whitehorn

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Professor Mark Whitehorn is chair of analytics at Dundee University's School of Computing.
Ruby slippers from wizard of Oz

We ain't in 1996 anymore, Dorothy: SQL Server 2016 proves it

Microsoft has had a database since 1989, initially working with Ashton-Tate and Sybase to create a variant of Sybase SQL Server for IBM’s OS/2. But it wasn’t until 1995 that Microsoft really got serious with SQL Server 6 for Microsoft’s rock-solid server operating system Windows NT. Back then, however, engines like SQL Server …
Mark Whitehorn, 18 Jul 2016
Nerd fail photo via Shutterstock

Who you callin' stoopid? No excuses for biz intelligence's poor stats

Business Intelligence (BI) systems are designed to turn raw data into useful information, so why don’t they do the job properly? Why do most of them fail so completely to make use of the huge range of capabilities that the analytics world has to offer? Even at the most basic level, they fail catastrophically to take simple …
Mark Whitehorn, 02 May 2016
Land Rover in the Korean War

Land Rover's return: Last orders and leather seats for Defender nerds

We all know there’s only on one true Land Rover: the Defender. A cheerful, competent, boxy-shaped device that’s been in production since 1948, inspired by the Jeep, the Allies' WWII workhorse. It looks as good pulling logs from a forest as it does pulling up outside a house in Mayfair and it was voted Greatest Car of All Time by …

Thank heavens for the silicon chip: A BRIEF history of data

Data Pair – Part 1 Data was born around 20,000 years ago, around the time the last ice age was at its peak and Cro-Magnon man was appearing in Europe. Data was made both by those early humans' minds and these humans’ ability to store facts outside their brains. Why the human mind? It is because data doesn’t exist outside the context of the mind. …
Mark Whitehorn, 21 Apr 2015
Triumph Spitfire, photo Mark Whitehorn

Car hacker secrets revealed: Clutching up a tank engine in a classic motor

+Diagrams Several people were kind enough to comment favourably on this article and asked for more information, pictures and video. We are delighted to oblige. Technically no one asked for poorly drawn diagrams, but I’ve included some of these as well. First, the video. Mark and chum turn over the Rolls Royce Meteor engine. The sound …
Mark Whitehorn, 21 Dec 2014

Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

Most people have heard of the human genome project (HGP), few have yet heard of the human proteome project (HPP) but it is going to transform your life in a far more fundamental way than the HGP never did. The human genome project was completed in April 2003 - we are currently the only species known to have deciphered its own …
Mark Whitehorn, 28 Nov 2014
Finished product, photo: Mark Whitehorn

Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register

Most car marques – Lagonda, Ford, Morgan and so on – have a proud history and the respective car clubs often worship the original form; if you present a car for judging, it had better be exactly as per factory spec. Or else. There are notable exceptions and perhaps the most surprising, given the value of some of the cars, is …
Mark Whitehorn, 26 Nov 2014
Germany celebrates winning Fifa world cup 2014 in Brazil

You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data

Evidence-based decision making is so clearly sensible because the alternative — making random decisions based on no evidence — is so clearly ludicrous. The “evidence” that we often use is in the form of information that we extract from raw data, often by data mining. Sadly, there has been an upsurge in the number people who …
Mark Whitehorn, 20 Oct 2014

About to make a big bet? Don't crash out, cash in with the power of maths

Big Data's Big 5 When and how to make change to a successful business or popular website can be a huge risk. Get things right and - at best - nobody notices. Get things wrong, however, and you run the risk of losing business and suffering a damaged reputation. A good recent example is that of film and TV service Netflix, whose fluffed …
Mark Whitehorn, 29 May 2014
Bart Simpson

What can The Simpsons teach us about stats algorithms? Glad you asked...

Big Data's Big 5 When his class is asked to give an example of a paradox in The Simpsons, Bart offers: "You're damned if ya' do, and you're damned if ya' don't." The dictionary defines a paradox as an absurd or seemingly absurd or contradictory statement that might prove to be true and when it comes to data a seemingly contradictory situation …
Mark Whitehorn, 28 May 2014

Big data hitting the fan? Nyquist-Shannon TOOL SAMPLE can save you

Big Data's Big 5 You are working on a big data project that collects data from sensors that can be polled every 0.1 of a second. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should, so how do we decide how frequently to poll sensors? The tempting answer is to collect it all, every last ping. That way, not only is your back covered but you can …
Mark Whitehorn, 23 May 2014

Achtung! Use maths to smash the German tank problem – and your rival

Big Data's Big 5 You've employed Benford's Law to out fraudsters hidden in seemingly random numbers. Now what do you do if you need answers but some of your data is missing? Welcome to the German tank problem, the second in The Reg's guide to crafty techniques from the world of mathematics that can help you quickly solve niggling data problems …
Mark Whitehorn, 20 May 2014

How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

Big Data's Big 5 Yes, we've been hit over the head enough times with the phrase "big data" to be aware of its presence, even though we've been up to our armpits in streams of huge unstructured datasets for years. Those of you who are analysts or data scientists will have already picked up a set of tools that help you find hidden information …
Mark Whitehorn, 14 May 2014
management big_data4

Tell me, professor, what is big data?

Big Data may be misunderstood and overhyped - but the promise of data growth enabling a goldmine of insight is compelling. Professor Mark Whitehorn, the eminent data scientist, author and occasional Register columnist, explains what big data is and why it is important. Sometimes life is generous and hands you an unexpected gift …
Mark Whitehorn, 12 Aug 2013
The Register breaking news

We gave SQL Server 2012 one year to prove itself: What happened?

Deep dive I reviewed SQL Server 2012, codenamed Denali, just over a year back and highlighted the major improvements in Microsoft's relational database. After a year in production, was I right, or have other features proved more important in practice? I'm bound to agree with my last review, so I polled colleagues who also work with SQL …
Mark Whitehorn, 28 May 2013
Borg

Hey, software snobs: Hardware love can set your code free

Comment In computing there are many, many different ways to run down other people’s work, not the least of which is: “OK, so they removed the bottleneck, but only by throwing faster hardware at it.” The implication is that tackling an issue just with software is intrinsically better. When did you ever hear anyone say: “OK, so they …
Olympus E-PL1

Big Data versus small data: Unpicking the paradox

NoSQL and Big Data crashed into the ordered world of relational architectures a few years back, thanks to services like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But while concepts such as key value stores and content-specific stores have certainly enriched our environments, the downside to their arrival is that it has created quite a bit …
Mark Whitehorn, 06 Feb 2013
Ricoh GR Digital III

Big Data's big issue: Where are all the data scientists coming from?

Analysis Plug “data scientist” into Google and it is clear the job title has finally come of age and, suddenly there is a huge skills shortage. An oft-quoted source about this shortage is a McKinsey Global Institute study, here. This predicts a talent gap of 140,000 to 190,000 people by 2018 in the US alone. I am always sceptical of IT …
Mark Whitehorn, 02 Nov 2012
DVD it in many colours

Big Data bites back: How to handle those unwieldy digits

Data is easy. It comes in tables that store facts and figures about particular items – say, people. The columns define the data to be stored about each item (such as FirstName, LastName) and there is one row for each person. Most tabular database engines are relational and we use SQL for querying. So this "Big Data" thang must …
Mark Whitehorn, 27 Aug 2012
The Register breaking news

Microsoft shakes SQL Server 2012's business end at big data

Review Those not in “Denali Denial” will be interested in SQL Server 2012, which has just been unwrapped and is currently being delivered to manufacturers. In this review (I used Release Candidate 0) I’ll focus on how the new database looks, feels and compares with the existing server. I’ll also take a look at how SQL Server's big …
Mark Whitehorn, 13 Mar 2012
fingers pointing at man

SQL Server 2008 - from semi-relational to sublime

Review SQL Server 2008 R2 is a step closer to reality. On the heels of August's first code drop, Microsoft has released a second, more-fully-featured community technology preview (CTP) of its next database server. It promises a number of things, including improved business intelligence through database changes and integration with …
Mark Whitehorn, 21 Nov 2009
channel

Teradata unveils SSD Blurr appliance

Teradata has previewed a concept appliance based on Solid State Disks (SSDs) and codenamed Blurr to partners. Unveiled at the company's Partners User Group Conference in Washington, DC, the first device - called Teradata Extreme Performance Appliance - is going onto a customer site in two weeks time. Before you ask, yes, it is …
Mark Whitehorn, 19 Oct 2009
channel

What your database needs is a good thermometer

In the very early days of databases, when they contained relatively small quantities of information, the distinction between frequencies of access was pretty immaterial. Now that we collect and store data in massive quantities, however, the distinction is becoming increasingly important. And apposite terms have evolved to …
Mark Whitehorn, 14 Sep 2009
channel

In the spin of SSDs on database servers

Interest in solid state drives (SSDs) is growing as their initially terrifying price plummets: Intel recently announced a 60 per-cent reduction in the cost of its X25-M Mainstream SATA SSD since its launch last year. SSDs are attractive because they radiate less heat than traditional spinning disks, they're smaller, quieter and …
Mark Whitehorn, 24 Aug 2009
The Register breaking news

Sarah Palin's words get data mined

USA '08 Business Intelligence (BI) is about extracting information from data. The name implies that it is only applicable to business information, but that’s misleading. Given the right techniques, information can be found in the most unexpected places - even in the speeches of vice-presidential candidates. Sarah Palin’s meteoric rise …
Mark Whitehorn, 31 Oct 2008