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The Analytics Edge

Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITx)
Enroll - startsApr 22, 2019
See prerequisites

Through inspiring examples and stories, discover the power of data and use analytics to provide an edge to your career and your life.

Start Date:Apr 22, 2019

Before you start

Basic mathematical knowledge (at a high school level). You should be familiar with concepts like mean, standard deviation, and scatterplots. Mathematical maturity and prior experience with programming will decrease the estimated effort required for the class, but are not necessary to succeed.

What you will learn

  • An applied understanding of many different analytics methods, including linear regression, logistic regression, CART, clustering, and data visualization
  • How to implement all of these methods in R
  • An applied understanding of mathematical optimization and how to solve optimization models in spreadsheet software


In the last decade, the amount of data available to organizations has reached unprecedented levels. Data is transforming business, social interactions, and the future of our society. In this course, you will learn how to use data and analytics to give an edge to your career and your life. We will examine real world examples of how analytics have been used to significantly improve a business or industry. These examples include Moneyball, eHarmony, the Framingham Heart Study, Twitter, IBM Watson, and Netflix. Through these examples and many more, we will teach you the following analytics methods: linear regression, logistic regression, trees, text analytics, clustering, visualization, and optimization. We will be using the statistical software R to build models and work with data. The contents of this course are essentially the same as those of the corresponding MIT class (The Analytics Edge). It is a challenging class, but it will enable you to apply analytics to real-world applications.

The class will consist of lecture videos, which are broken into small pieces, usually between 4 and 8 minutes each. After each lecture piece, we will ask you a “quick question” to assess your understanding of the material. There will also be a recitation, in which one of the teaching assistants will go over the methods introduced with a new example and data set. Each week will have a homework assignment that involves working in R or LibreOffice with various data sets. (R is a free statistical and computing software environment we’ll use in the course. See the Software FAQ below for more info). At the end of the class there will be a final exam, which will be similar to the homework assignments.

Frequently asked questions

What do I need to know about the topic prior to enrolling in the course?

You only need to know basic mathematics. For most people, this is equivalent to basic high school mathematics. You should know concepts like mean, standard deviation, and histograms. This course is also useful for those who already have experience in the subject. In each lecture, recitation, and homework assignment, we use a different dataset and case to illustrate the method. Even if you are familiar with all of the methods taught, you can still learn a lot from the different examples.

What software will be used in the course?

We’ll be using two software programs in this class: R and LibreOffice. Both are free online, and you don’t need to be familiar with either of them to take the course. R is a free statistical and computing software environment and LibreOffice is similar to MS Office but a free open source program. Specifically we’ll use the LibreOffice module, Calc in this course. Don’t worry though - we’ll teach everything from scratch!
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