Data Science interview questions and answers

Data Science interview questions and answers

1.What is Data Science?

Data Science is a blend of Statistics, technical skills and business vision which is used to analyze the available data and predict the future trend.

2.Which language is more suitable for text analytics? R or Python?

Since Python consists of a rich library called Pandas which allows the analysts to use high-level data analysis tools as well as data structures, while R lacks this feature. Hence Python will more suitable for text analytics.

3.What is a Recommender System?

A recommender system is today widely deployed in multiple fields like movie recommendations, music preferences, social tags, research articles, search queries and so on. The recommender systems work as per collaborative and content-based filtering or by deploying a personality-based approach. This type of system works based on a person’s past behavior in order to build a model for the future. This will predict the future product buying, movie viewing or book reading by people. It also creates a filtering approach using the discrete characteristics of items while recommending additional items.

4.Compare SAS, R and Python programming?

SAS: it is one of the most widely used analytics tools used by some of the biggest companies on earth. It has some of the best statistical functions, graphical user interface, but can come with a price tag and hence it cannot be readily adopted by smaller enterprises

R: The best part about R is that it is an Open Source tool and hence used generously by academia and the research community. It is a robust tool for statistical computation, graphical representation and reporting. Due to its open source nature it is always being updated with the latest features and then readily available to everybody.

Python: Python is a powerful open source programming language that is easy to learn, works well with most other tools and technologies. The best part about Python is that it has innumerable libraries and community created modules making it very robust. It has functions for statistical operation, model building and more.

5.Explain the various benefits of R language?

The R programming language includes a set of software suite that is used for graphical representation, statistical computing, data manipulation and calculation.

Some of the highlights of R programming environment include the following:

· An extensive collection of tools for data analysis

· Operators for performing calculations on matrix and array

· Data analysis technique for graphical representation

· A highly developed yet simple and effective programming languag.

· It extensively supports machine learning applications

· It acts as a connecting link between various software, tools and datasets

· Create high quality reproducible analysis that is flexible and powerful

· Provides a robust package ecosystem for diverse needs

· It is useful when you have to solve a data-oriented problem

6.How do Data Scientists use Statistics?

Statistics helps Data Scientists to look into the data for patterns, hidden insights and convert Big Data into Big insights. It helps to get a better idea of what the customers are expecting. Data Scientists can learn about the consumer behavior, interest, engagement, retention and finally conversion all through the power of insightful statistics. It helps them to build powerful data models in order to validate certain inferences and predictions. All this can be converted into a powerful business proposition by giving users what they want at precisely when they want it.

7.What is logistic regression?

It is a statistical technique or a model in order to analyze a dataset and predict the binary outcome. The outcome has to be a binary outcome that is either zero or one or a yes or no. Random Forest is an important technique which is used to do classification, regression and other tasks on data.

8.Why data cleansing is important in data analysis?

With data coming in from multiple sources it is important to ensure that data is good enough for analysis. This is where data cleansing becomes extremely vital. Data cleansing extensively deals with the process of detecting and correcting of data records, ensuring that data is complete and accurate and the components of data that are irrelevant are deleted or modified as per the needs. This process can be deployed in concurrence with data wrangling or batch processing.

Once the data is cleaned it confirms with the rules of the data sets in the system. Data cleansing is an essential part of the data science because the data can be prone to error due to human negligence, corruption during transmission or storage among other things. Data cleansing takes a huge chunk of time and effort of a Data Scientist because of the multiple sources from which data emanates and the speed at which it comes.

9.Describe univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis.

As the name suggests these are analysis methodologies having a single, double or multiple variables.

So a univariate analysis will have one variable and due to this there are no relationships, causes. The major aspect of the univariate analysis is to summarize the data and find the patterns within it to make actionable decisions.

A Bivariate analysis deals with the relationship between two sets of data. These sets of paired data come from related sources, or samples. There are various tools to analyze such data including the chi-squared tests and t-tests when the data are having a correlation. If the data can be quantified then it can analyzed using a graph plot or a scatterplot. The strength of the correlation between the two data sets will be tested in a Bivariate analysis.

10.How machine learning is deployed in real world scenarios?

Here are some of the scenarios in which machine learning finds applications in real world:

Ecommerce: Understanding the customer churn, deploying targeted advertising, remarketing

Search engine: Ranking pages depending on the personal preferences of the searcher

Finance: Evaluating investment opportunities & risks, detecting fraudulent transactions

Medicare: Designing drugs depending on the patient’s history and needs

Robotics: Machine learning for handling situations that are out of the ordinary

Social media: Understanding relationships and recommending connections

Extraction of information: framing questions for getting answers from databases over the web

11.What are the various aspects of a Machine Learning process?

In this post I will discuss the components involved in solving a problem using machine learning.

Domain knowledge

This is the first step wherein we need to understand how to extract the various features from the data and learn more about the data that we are dealing with. It has got more to do with the type of domain that we are dealing with and familiarizing the system to learn more about it.

Feature Selection

This step has got more to do with the feature that we are selecting from the set of features that we have. Sometimes it happens that there are a lot of features and we have to make an intelligent decision regarding the type of feature that we want to select to go ahead with our machine learning endeavor.

Algorithm

This is a vital step since the algorithms that we choose will have a very major impact on the entire process of machine learning. You can choose between the linear and nonlinear algorithm. Some of the algorithms used are Support Vector Machines, Decision Trees, Naïve Bayes, K-Means Clustering, etc.

Training

This is the most important part of the machine learning technique and this is where it differs from the traditional programming. The training is done based on the data that we have and providing more real world experiences. With each consequent training step the machine gets better and smarter and able to take improved decisions.

Evaluation

In this step we actually evaluate the decisions taken by the machine in order to decide whether it is up to the mark or not. There are various metrics that are involved in this process and we have to closed deploy each of these to decide on the efficacy of the whole machine learning endeavor.

Optimization

This process involves improving the performance of the machine learning process using various optimization techniques. Optimization of machine learning is one of the most vital components wherein the performance of the algorithm is vastly improved. The best part of optimization techniques is that machine learning is not just a consumer of optimization techniques but it also provides new ideas for optimization too.

Testing

Here various tests are carried out and some these are unseen set of test cases. The data is partitioned into test and training set. There are various testing techniques like cross-validation in order to deal with multiple situations.

12.What do you understand by the term Normal Distribution?

It is a set of continuous variable spread across a normal curve or in the shape of a bell curve. It can be considered as a continuous probability distribution and is useful in statistics. It is the most common distribution curve and it becomes very useful to analyze the variables and their relationships when we have the normal distribution curve.

The normal distribution curve is symmetrical. The non-normal distribution approaches the normal distribution as the size of the samples increases. It is also very easy to deploy the Central Limit Theorem. This method helps to make sense of data that is random by creating an order and interpreting the results using a bell-shaped graph.

13.What is Linear Regression?

It is the most commonly used method for predictive analytics. The Linear Regression method is used to describe relationship between a dependent variable and one or independent variable. The main task in the Linear Regression is the method of fitting a single line within a scatter plot. The Linear Regression consists of the following three methods:

Determining and analyzing the correlation and direction of the data

Deploying the estimation of the model

Ensuring the usefulness and validity of the model

It is extensively used in scenarios where the cause effect model comes into play. For example you want to know the effect of a certain action in order to determine the various outcomes and extent of effect the cause has in determining the final outcome.

14.What is Interpolation and Extrapolation?

The terms of interpolation and extrapolation are extremely important in any statistical analysis. Extrapolation is the determination or estimation using a known set of values or facts by extending it and taking it to an area or region that is unknown. It is the technique of inferring something using data that is available.

Interpolation on the other hand is the method of determining a certain value which falls between a certain set of values or the sequence of values. This is especially useful when you have data at the two extremities of a certain region but you don’t have enough data points at the specific point. This is when you deploy interpolation to determine the value that you need.

15.Explain star schema.

It is a traditional database schema with a central table. Satellite tables map IDs to physical names or descriptions and can be connected to the central fact table using the ID fields; these tables are known as lookup tables and are principally useful in real-time applications, as they save a lot of memory. Sometimes star schemas involve several layers of summarization to recover information faster.

16.How regularly must an algorithm be updated?

You will want to update an algorithm when:

You want the model to evolve as data streams through infrastructure

The underlying data source is changing

There is a case of non-stationarity

17.What are Eigenvalue and Eigenvector?

Eigenvectors are for understanding linear transformations. In data analysis, we usually calculate the eigenvectors for a correlation or covariance matrix. Eigenvalues are the directions along which a particular linear transformation acts by flipping, compressing or stretching.

18.Why is resampling done?

Resampling is done in any of these cases:

Estimating the accuracy of sample statistics by using subsets of accessible data or drawing randomly with replacement from a set of data points

Substituting labels on data points when performing significance tests

Validating models by using random subsets (bootstrapping, cross validation)

19.Explain selective bias.

Selection bias, in general, is a problematic situation in which error is introduced due to a non-random population sample.

20.What are the types of biases that can occur during sampling?

Selection bias

Under coverage bias

Survivorship bias

21.Explain survivorship bias.

It is the logical error of focusing aspects that support surviving some process and casually overlooking those that did not because of their lack of prominence. This can lead to wrong conclusions in numerous different means.

22.How do you work towards a random forest?

The underlying principle of this technique is that several weak learners combined to provide a strong learner. The steps involved are,

· Build several decision trees on bootstrapped training samples of data

· On each tree, each time a split is considered, a random sample of mm predictors is chosen as split candidates, out of all pp predictors

23.What is Power Analysis?

The power analysis is a vital part of the experimental design. It is involved with the process of determining the sample size needed for detecting an effect of a given size from a cause with a certain degree of assurance. It lets you deploy specific probability in a sample size constraint.

The various techniques of statistical power analysis and sample size estimation are widely deployed for making statistical judgment that are accurate and evaluate the size needed for experimental effects in practice.

Power analysis lets you understand the sample size estimate so that they are neither high nor low. A low sample size there will be no authentication to provide reliable answers and if it is large there will be wastage of resources.

24.What is K-means? How can you select K for K-means?

K-means clustering can be termed as the basic unsupervised learning algorithm. It is the method of classifying data using a certain set of clusters called as K clusters. It is deployed for grouping data in order to find similarity in the data.

It includes defining the K centers, one each in a cluster. The clusters are defined into K groups with K being predefined. The K points are selected at random as cluster centers. The objects are assigned to their nearest cluster center. The objects within a cluster are as closely related to one another as possible and differ as much as possible to the objects in other clusters. K-means clustering works very well for large sets of data.

25.How is Data modeling different from Database design?

Data Modeling: It can be considered as the first step towards the design of a database. Data modeling creates a conceptual model based on the relationship between various data models. The process involves moving from the conceptual stage to the logical model to the physical schema. It involves the systematic method of applying the data modeling techniques.

Database Design: This is the process of designing the database. The database design creates an output which is a detailed data model of the database. Strictly speaking database design includes the detailed logical model of a database but it can also include physical design choices and storage parameters.

26.What is Interpolation and Extrapolation?

Estimating a value from 2 known values from a list of values is Interpolation. Extrapolation is approximating a value by extending a known set of values or facts.

27.What is power analysis?

An experimental design technique for determining the effect of a given sample size.

28.What is Collaborative filtering?

The process of filtering used by most of the recommender systems to find patterns or information by collaborating viewpoints, various data sources and multiple agents.

29.What is the difference between Cluster and Systematic Sampling?

Cluster sampling is a technique used when it becomes difficult to study the target population spread across a wide area and simple random sampling cannot be applied. Cluster Sample is a probability sample where each sampling unit is a collection, or cluster of elements. Systematic sampling is a statistical technique where elements are selected from an ordered sampling frame. In systematic sampling, the list is progressed in a circular manner so once you reach the end of the list,it is progressed from the top again. The best example for systematic sampling is equal probability method.

30. Are expected value and mean value different?

They are not different but the terms are used in different contexts. Mean is generally referred when talking about a probability distribution or sample population whereas expected value is generally referred in a random variable context.

For Sampling Data

Mean value is the only value that comes from the sampling data.

Expected Value is the mean of all the means i.e. the value that is built from multiple samples. Expected value is the population mean.

For Distributions

Mean value and Expected value are same irrespective of the distribution, under the condition that the distribution is in the same population.

31.What does P-value signify about the statistical data?

P-value is used to determine the significance of results after a hypothesis test in statistics. P-value helps the readers to draw conclusions and is always between 0 and 1.

P- Value > 0.05 denotes weak evidence against the null hypothesis which means the null hypothesis cannot be rejected.

P-value <= 0.05 denotes strong evidence against the null hypothesis which means the null hypothesis can be rejected.

P-value=0.05is the marginal value indicating it is possible to go either way.

32.Do gradient descent methods always converge to same point?

No, they do not because in some cases it reaches a local minima or a local optima point. You don’t reach the global optima point. It depends on the data and starting conditions

33. What is the goal of A/B Testing?

It is a statistical hypothesis testing for randomized experiment with two variables A and B. The goal of A/B Testing is to identify any changes to the web page to maximize or increase the outcome of an interest. An example for this could be identifying the click through rate for a banner ad.

34.What is an Eigenvalue and Eigenvector?

Eigenvectors are used for understanding linear transformations. In data analysis, we usually calculate the eigenvectors for a correlation or covariance matrix. Eigenvectors are the directions along which a particular linear transformation acts by flipping, compressing or stretching. Eigenvalue can be referred to as the strength of the transformation in the direction of eigenvector or the factor by which the compression occurs.

35.How can outlier values be treated?

Outlier values can be identified by using univariate or any other graphical analysis method. If the number of outlier values is few then they can be assessed individually but for large number of outliers the values can be substituted with either the 99th or the 1st percentile values. All extreme values are not outlier values.The most common ways to treat outlier values –

1) To change the value and bring in within a range

2) To just remove the value.

36. How can you assess a good logistic model?

There are various methods to assess the results of a logistic regression analysis-

Using Classification Matrix to look at the true negatives and false positives.

Concordance that helps identify the ability of the logistic model to differentiate between the event happening and not happening.

Lift helps assess the logistic model by comparing it with random selection.

37.How can you iterate over a list and also retrieve element indices at the same time?

This can be done using the enumerate function which takes every element in a sequence just like in a list and adds its location just before it.

38.During analysis, how do you treat missing values?

The extent of the missing values is identified after identifying the variables with missing values. If any patterns are identified the analyst has to concentrate on them as it could lead to interesting and meaningful business insights. If there are no patterns identified, then the missing values can be substituted with mean or median values (imputation) or they can simply be ignored.

There are various factors to be considered when answering this question-

Understand the problem statement, understand the data and then give the answer.Assigning a default value which can be mean, minimum or maximum value. Getting into the data is important.

If it is a categorical variable, the default value is assigned. The missing value is assigned a default value.

If you have a distribution of data coming, for normal distribution give the mean value.

Should we even treat missing values is another important point to consider? If 80% of the values for a variable are missing then you can answer that you would be dropping the variable instead of treating the missing values.

39.Explain about the box cox transformation in regression models.

For some reason or the other, the response variable for a regression analysis might not satisfy one or more assumptions of an ordinary least squares regression. The residuals could either curve as the prediction increases or follow skewed distribution. In such scenarios, it is necessary to transform the response variable so that the data meets the required assumptions. A Box cox transformation is a statistical technique to transform non-mornla dependent variables into a normal shape. If the given data is not normal then most of the statistical techniques assume normality. Applying a box cox transformation means that you can run a broader number of tests.

40.Can you use machine learning for time series analysis?

Yes, it can be used but it depends on the applications.

41.What is the difference between skewed and uniform distribution?

When the observations in a dataset are spread equally across the range of distribution, then it is referred to as uniform distribution. There are no clear perks in an uniform distribution. Distributions that have more observations on one side of the graph than the other are referred to as skewed distribution.Distributions with fewer observations on the left ( towards lower values) are said to be skewed left and distributions with fewer observation on the right ( towards higher values) are said to be skewed right.

42.You created a predictive model of a quantitative outcome variable using multiple regressions. What are the steps you would follow to validate the model?

Since the question asked, is about post model building exercise, we will assume that you have already tested for null hypothesis, multi collinearity and Standard error of coefficients.

Once you have built the model, you should check for following –

· Global F-test to see the significance of group of independent variables on dependent variable

· R^2

· Adjusted R^2

· RMSE, MAPE

In addition to above mentioned quantitative metrics you should also check for-

· Residual plot

· Assumptions of linear regression

 

43.How can you deal with different types of seasonality in time series modelling?

Seasonality in time series occurs when time series shows a repeated pattern over time. E.g., stationary sales decreases during holiday season, air conditioner sales increases during the summers etc. are few examples of seasonality in a time series.

Seasonality makes your time series non-stationary because average value of the variables at different time periods. Differentiating a time series is generally known as the best method of removing seasonality from a time series. Seasonal differencing can be defined as a numerical difference between a particular value and a value with a periodic lag (i.e. 12, if monthly seasonality is present)

44.Can you cite some examples where a false negative important than a false positive?

Assume there is an airport ‘A’ which has received high security threats and based on certain characteristics they identify whether a particular passenger can be a threat or not. Due to shortage of staff they decided to scan passenger being predicted as risk positives by their predictive model.

45.What will happen if a true threat customer is being flagged as non-threat by airport model?

Another example can be judicial system. What if Jury or judge decide to make a criminal go free?

What if you rejected to marry a very good person based on your predictive model and you happen to meet him/her after few years and realize that you had a false negative?

46.Can you cite some examples where both false positive and false negatives are equally important?

In the banking industry giving loans is the primary source of making money but at the same time if your repayment rate is not good you will not make any profit, rather you will risk huge losses.

Banks don’t want to lose good customers and at the same point of time they don’t want to acquire bad customers. In this scenario both the false positives and false negatives become very important to measure.

These days we hear many cases of players using steroids during sport competitions Every player has to go through a steroid test before the game starts. A false positive can ruin the career of a Great sportsman and a false negative can make the game unfair.

47.Can you explain the difference between a Test Set and a Validation Set?

Validation set can be considered as a part of the training set as it is used for parameter selection and to avoid Overfitting of the model being built. On the other hand, test set is used for testing or evaluating the performance of a trained machine leaning model.

In simple terms ,the differences can be summarized as-

Training Set is to fit the parameters i.e. weights.

Test Set is to assess the performance of the model i.e. evaluating the predictive power and generalization.

Validation set is to tune the parameters.

48. What do you understand by statistical power of sensitivity and how do you calculate it?

Sensitivity is commonly used to validate the accuracy of a classifier (Logistic, SVM, RF etc.). Sensitivity is nothing but “Predicted TRUE events/ Total events”. True events here are the events which were true and model also predicted them as true.

Calculation of senstivity is pretty straight forward-

Senstivity = True Positives /Positives in Actual Dependent Variable

Where, True positives are Positive events which are correctly classified as Positives.

49.What is the importance of having a selection bias?

Selection Bias occurs when there is no appropriate randomization acheived while selecting individuals, groups or data to be analysed.Selection bias implies that the obtained sample does not exactly represent the population that was actually intended to be analyzed.Selection bias consists of Sampling Bias, Data, Attribute and Time Interval.

50.Give some situations where you will use an SVM over a RandomForest Machine Learning algorithm and vice-versa.

SVM and Random Forest are both used in classification problems.

a) If you are sure that your data is outlier free and clean then go for SVM. It is the opposite – if your data might contain outliers then Random forest would be the best choice

b) Generally, SVM consumes more computational power than Random Forest, so if you are constrained with memory go for Random Forest machine learning algorithm.

c) Random Forest gives you a very good idea of variable importance in your data, so if you want to have variable importance then choose Random Forest machine learning algorithm.

d) Random Forest machine learning algorithms are preferred for multiclass problems.

e) SVM is preferred in multi-dimensional problem set – like text classification

but as a good data scientist, you should experiment with both of them and test for accuracy or rather you can use ensemble of many Machine Learning techniques.

50.How do data management procedures like missing data handling make selection bias worse?

Missing value treatment is one of the primary tasks which a data scientist is supposed to do before starting data analysis. There are multiple methods for missing value treatment. If not done properly, it could potentially result into selection bias. Let see few missing value treatment examples and their impact on selection-

Complete Case Treatment: Complete case treatment is when you remove entire row in data even if one value is missing. You could achieve a selection bias if your values are not missing at random and they have some pattern. Assume you are conducting a survey and few people didn’t specify their gender. Would you remove all those people? Can’t it tell a different story?

Available case analysis: Let say you are trying to calculate correlation matrix for data so you might remove the missing values from variables which are needed for that particular correlation coefficient. In this case your values will not be fully correct as they are coming from population sets.

Mean Substitution: In this method missing values are replaced with mean of other available values.This might make your distribution biased e.g., standard deviation, correlation and regression are mostly dependent on the mean value of variables.

Hence, various data management procedures might include selection bias in your data if not chosen correctly.

June 22, 2018

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