INCLINE VILLAGE, NV – September 10, 2012 – Frontline Systems, developers of the Excel Solver and a full line of advanced optimization and simulation software products for Excel, is shipping new Version 4.0 of XLMiner®, the leading Excel-based add-in for data mining, which it acquired one year ago from Cytel Software Inc. and Statistics.com LLC. V4.0 is the first version to reflect Frontline’s investment in new product development for XLMiner, and the first version to work with Excel 2013 Preview Edition.
“XLMiner has traditionally offered surprisingly powerful data mining and predictive analytics in an Excel add-in, but graphics were not its strength,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “Now, XLMiner includes powerful data exploration and visualization features to support the ‘front end’ of business data analytics. To aid analysis using multiple, disparate ‘Big Data’ sources, XLMiner now works with Microsoft PowerPivot, sampling from datasets with up to hundreds of millions of rows.”
“We’re very pleased with this new home for XLMiner,” said Peter Bruce, President and CEO of Statistics.com LLC and co-author of the leading textbook Data Mining for Business Intelligence (Wiley, 2010). “We believe Frontline can powerfully extend XLMiner’s reach, and we’re supporting their efforts with our XLMiner-based data mining courses taught by expert instructors online.”
Data Visualization – Beyond Excel Charts
Microsoft Excel has traditionally featured extensive facilities for creating charts and graphs, but these were designed primarily for presentation, not for exploration and visualization of complex inter-relationships in multivariate data. Several desktop and web-based products, for example JMP, Tableau and Spotfire, have offered data exploration and visualization outside Excel. Now in XLMiner V4.0, features like scatterplot matrix and parallel coordinates charts, multiple linked charts with ‘brushing’ of data points across charts, and single-click creation of new plots, colors and panels across categorical variables, are available in the familiar Excel environment, linked to XLMiner’s data cleaning and mining functions.
Data Mining Power for the Rest of Us
XLMiner goes far beyond other statistics and forecasting add-ins for Excel. It includes multiple regression, exponential smoothing, and ARIMA models for forecasting, but it also includes data mining tools such as regression trees, k-nearest neighbors, and neural networks for more complex prediction models. It offers discriminant analysis, logistic regression, k-nearest neighbors, classification trees, naïve Bayes and neural nets for classification, and association rules for affinity analysis.
For the “data cleaning” step that typically precedes analysis, XLMiner offers data sampling and partitioning, missing data handling, binning, and transformation of categorical data. Users can apply principal component analysis, k-means clustering, and hierarchical clustering to simplify their data, and automatically find ‘clusters’ of similar data points.
Working with ‘Big Data’ in an Excel Spreadsheet
Some observers believe that spreadsheets are only suitable for small datasets and models. But Excel already handles million-row spreadsheets, and PowerPivot for Excel – an add-in from Microsoft’s SQL Server group that brings a powerful database engine into memory with Excel – handles up to hundreds of millions of rows of data in Excel. PowerPivot makes it easy to integrate data from multiple disparate data sources – including Microsoft’s Window Azure Data Marketplace, with a huge array of publicly available datasets – into one, potentially quite large, in-memory relational database.
In the forthcoming Microsoft Excel 2013, an enhanced PowerPivot add-in is included ‘in the box’ with Excel. XLMiner V4.0 works with both PowerPivot for Excel 2010 and the new PowerPivot version for Excel 2013 Preview Edition.
Even in the largest enterprise data mining products, vendors recommend that data mining models should be built based on a sample of data from the larger database; this data sample easily fits in a spreadsheet. XLMiner has always included facilities to sample data from popular relational databases (DB2, Oracle, etc.) as well as from Excel spreadsheets. In XLMiner V4.0, this facility is extended to sample data from PowerPivot’s in-memory database. XLMiner also includes a ‘scoring’ function that can be used to apply a fitted data mining model to a larger external database. This means that users can work with datasets much larger than those handled by Excel, while retaining the familiarity and ease of use of Excel.
An On-Ramp for Predictive Analytics Expertise
Unlike expensive and complicated enterprise data mining software, XLMiner is very easy to use. Users who know Excel can get results quickly. XLMiner’s built-in Help explains both data mining concepts and its dialogs and options. The popular textbook Data Mining for Business Intelligence – built around XLMiner – and online courses from Statistics.com can take users from beginning to advanced level in predictive analytics.
In university MBA programs teaching data mining, XLMiner is the leading software of its kind. For instructors, Frontline and its partners offer low-cost classroom licenses, example models and datasets, PowerPoint slides, solutions to exercises, and an online forum.
Low Cost, Low Risk Solution with a Free Trial
Compared to enterprise data mining products, XLMiner is less than 1/10th the cost for a single-user license, and its learning curve is far lower, making XLMiner the lowest cost and risk “entry point” for companies wishing to explore data mining. A free 30-day trial of XLMiner is available for download at www.solver.com/xlminer.
About Frontline Systems, Inc.
Frontline Systems, Inc. (www.solver.com) is a leading developer of optimization and simulation software, and the leader in spreadsheet-based software for both conventional and stochastic optimization, helping managers best allocate scarce resources today and in the future. Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 500 million spreadsheet users. In 2011, Frontline entered the data mining market with its acquisition of XLMiner, a popular Excel add-in. Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300).
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