September 06, 2011

Problem Solving Series #5a - Analyze the Problem

Allright, now we have arrived at the most fun part of the IDOAIM problem solving steps: Analysis.

There are literally hundreds of ways to analyze your problem, but essentially here are key important features that you need to answer:

First of all, everything, I mean everything, has causes and effects. Your data collection, your site visits, and your analysis should discover what causes which effects. There are several simple tools to analyze numerical data and answer whether a particular variable affects a particular output:

a. Scatter plot: If you have a numeric variable that is continuous, i.e. you can have any real numbers that spans a particular range, preferably a very wide range, and if you have an output in question that is also continuous and spans wide, you may want to plot these pairs into a simple scatter plot and see if small value of the input has a small value of output. Here is an example:

Courtesy of Jessica Hannah's Map Catalog -

In that scatter plot, whatever SAT is, it surely affects Beta Test score, whatever that is. So you don't really need to know what they are to know they are related. Nifty, right?

Don't go too fast!

It is still a good idea to understand the logic behind the relationship, because sometimes there is this thing called autocorrelation, which we shouldn't dwell too much here. (If you insist on an explanation, check this out, a simple illustration).

to be continued...

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