Analytics is a vast field. At the one end, it overlaps with statistics and higher mathematics. At the other, it merges seamlessly with programming and software development. There are a lot of good books written on analytics. Not all of them are easily available in the Indian market.Now, however, many of these titles can be ordered from online book stores like www.flipkart.com. The books which have an Indian publisher are usually cheaper whereas foreign publications are more expensive.
We have divided our list of favourite books into two sections. The first section covers books on the fundamentals of analytics and business statistics. We have also included books showcasing applications of analytics in various industries,
The second section consists of books around specific analytic tools or software. These books cover tools like SAS, SPSS, R, SQL and excel.
Introduction to analytics
Data Mining Techniques by Michael Berry and Gordon Linoff
This is an excellent book on some of the most widely used analytic techniques. It starts off with defining data mining in the current business context and then summarizes some of the best practices in data mining. The book talks about some useful statistical concepts like p-value and chi-square as it takes the readers through the process of building a model. It then goes on to explain analytic algorithms like Decision trees, market basket analysis, clustering, link analysis, clustering and survival analysis. The book is full of useful industry examples.
This is the first book recommended for anyone with an interest in analytics.
Data Mining Cookbook by Olivia Parr Rud
This book provides a detailed understanding of the analytics methodology. It lists out several best practices that any good analyst would swear by. The author primarily uses logistic regression as her technique of choice, and SAS and excel as the tools. The book has a very brief description of analytics so make sure you have some understanding of the field of analytics before you get to this book.
Competing on Analytics by Thomas Davenport
This is a much-needed addition to the literature of analytics. This book does not deal with any statistical equations or complex algorithms. The book, instead, describes how some of the leading companies in the world are using analytics to out-smart their competition. The book is full of case studies of successful application of analytics from fields as diverse as retail to pharmaceuticals to sports to telecom. This book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding how companies like Amazon, Netflix and Capital One have developed analytics as their key differentiator.
Statistics for Management by Richard Levin and David Rubin
This is a great guide for statistics used in the field of analytics. Starting from simple central tendency measures to probability distributions to decision theory, this book covers the essentials of business statistics. It is used as course book in most management institutes in India. This book is recommended for anyone interested in the field of Statistics.
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
Freakonomics is an easy, interesting read, even for people who do not understand Statistics. The author uses the power of analytics to turn conventional wisdom on its head. With hypotheses like ‘Legalization of abortions has led to crime reduction’the book throws up some very interesting questions for its readers. A must-read for everyone.
Predictive Data mining by Sholom Weiss
A good introduction to analytics, the book has an easy style that will appeal to beginners. Some of the more complex topics may not be adequately addressed but a good book as an introduction.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
A book on the use of analytics in the sports industry. The book studies Oakland Athletics a US baseball team with a payroll budget of less than a 3rd of some their rivals. Despite being small they have consistently been one of the best teams. The author shows how they leveraged analytics to get their advantage. OA analyzed metrics that were different from the ones traditionally looked at, but which they thought were more relevant to winning. A good example of analytics being used innovatively.
Books on analytic tools
Little SAS Book by Lora Delwiche
A very good book to learn SAS. The book is easily readable since it is composed of two-pages articles. Each one focuses on a specific task or function of SAS. The book is divided in 10 chapters that go through reading data sets, building reports, combining data sets, writing macros, using grahics, debugging SAS programs, etc. The book is a good reference for simple tasks. Any simple task you don’t know? Just look in the index and you will find the corresponding function. However, for more advanced topics, the book is a bit light. Well, that’s what the title also says.
SAS programming by example by Ron Cody
If you are a beginner in SAS you will find this book useful. The book is simple and easy to read with many industry examples for better understanding. The book deals with the essentials of analytics and reporting using SAS. It is one of the best books available for beginners in SAS.
Data Manipulation in R by Phil Spector
This thin book provides a solid introduction to many of the most useful functions and packages for importing, manipulating and processing data in R. Using a variety of examples based on data sets included with R, along with easily simulated data sets, the book is recommended to anyone who wants to learn R.
Discovering Statistics using SPSS by Andy Field
The author has a gift of explaining statistical intricacies in simple, easy to understand language. This is one of the best books on learning statistics through SPSS.
Data Analysis using SQL and Excel by Gordon Linoff
A good book on understanding how tools like SQL and Excel can be leveraged to extract useful business information from relational databases. The book is organized around chapters that become increasingly complex in the use of SQL, Excel, and data mining concepts.
Readers have written to me with names of many other books that can be added to this list. Here are some of them -
R for SAS and SPSS users by Bob Muenchen
This is a great starting text for those who already know SAS or SPSS and want to switch to R. This book takes some of the most fundamental concepts such as data input, statistical analysis, data output etc. and shows how these steps can be performed in SAS and SPSS and then goes on to show its equivalent programs in R.
The book manages to reduce confusion for those transitioning from SAS/SPSS to R and is a great text for starting off in R.
Data preparation for data mining by Dorian Pyle
Data preparation is the most critical step in the process of data analysis. In most cases it also takes up the most amount of time in a project, but unfortunately it often gets overlooked in comparison to the more glamorous predictive modeling techniques. This book places the focus back on data preparation. The author describes some clever data preparation techniques that any analyst will benefit from.
I recently read a couple of absolutely mind blowing books by the author Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
Both the books need to be mentioned under the “must-read” list of analytic books.
Fooled by Randomness by Nicholas Nassim Taleb
This is an excellent book that shows us the pitfalls of using statistical analysis without completely understanding what we are doing. The book predicted the 2009 home loan market crisis and even mentions (in one of the footnotes) how Fanny Mae is disaster waiting to happen.
The Black Swan by Nicholas Nassim Taleb
This book continues with the same theme but has a lot more real-life examples to draw the reader in. The author talks in detail about the curse of the Bell curve – how the assumption of a normal distribution for real-world phenomena can lead to severe consequences. You will soon see many more articles on this blog inspired by The Black Swan.
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