I’ve been working my way through the Machine Learning for Hackers book from O’Reilly press (which really should be named R for Machine Learning), and just finished a small data analysis project in R. While the syntax is a little awkward, the power under the hood of R is fantastic. ’nuff said.
Anyways, I’d recommend the book, with the caveat that you’re going to need to reference the github server for both data and clarity regarding programming points: For example, Infochimps has a flawed security certificate (making downloading data sets dodgy), and there were enough coding errors in the book’s first chapter to cause me to develop 2-3 hours worth of workarounds (and headaches.) Not on par with the Head First HTML/CSS book, that’s for sure – Machine Learning seems hastily put together, but worthwhile for the knowledge core.
Anyways, here’s the project output, an analysis produced in R of roughly 45,000 UFO sightings from 1990-2010, by US state, month, and year.