Exploratory Data Analysis

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Course Date: 01 September 2014 to 29 September 2014 (4 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

Learn the essential exploratory techniques for summarizing data. This is the fourth course in the Johns Hopkins Data Science Specialization.

Estimated Workload: 3-5 hours/week

Course Instructors

Roger Peng

Roger D. Peng is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Co-Editor of the Simply Statistics blog. He received his Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of California, Los Angeles and is a prominent researcher in the areas of air pollution and health risk assessment and statistical methods for environmental data. He created the course Statistical Programming at Johns Hopkins as a way to introduce students to the computational tools for data analysis. Dr. Peng is also a national leader in the area of methods and standards for reproducible research and is the Reproducible Research editor for the journal Biostatistics. His research is highly interdisciplinary and his work has been published in major substantive and statistical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Dr. Peng is the author of more than a dozen software packages implementing statistical methods for environmental studies, methods for reproducible research, and data distribution tools. He has also given workshops, tutorials, and short courses in statistical computing and data analysis.

Jeff Leek

Jeff Leek is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-editor of the Simply Statistics Blog. He received his Ph.D. in Biostatistics from the University of Washington and is recognized for his contributions to genomic data analysis and statistical methods for personalized medicine. His data analyses have helped us understand the molecular mechanisms behind brain development, stem cell self-renewal, and the immune response to major blunt force trauma. His work has appeared in the top scientific and medical journals Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Genome Biology, and PLoS Medicine. He created Data Analysis as a component of the year-long statistical methods core sequence for Biostatistics students at Johns Hopkins. The course has won a teaching excellence award, voted on by the students at Johns Hopkins, every year Dr. Leek has taught the course.

Brian Caffo

Brian Caffo, PhD is a professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He graduated from the Department of Statistics at the University of Florida in 2001. He works in the fields of computational statistics and neuroinformatics and co-created the SMART (www.smart-stats.org) working group. He has been the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientist (PECASE) and Engineers and Bloomberg School of Public Health Golden Apple and AMTRA teaching awards.

Course Description

This course covers the essential exploratory techniques for summarizing data. These techniques are typically applied before formal modeling commences and can help inform the development of more complex statistical models. Exploratory techniques are also important for eliminating or sharpening potential hypotheses about the world that can be addressed by the data. We will cover in detail the plotting systems in R as well as some of the basic principles of constructing data graphics. We will also cover some of the common multivariate statistical techniques used to visualize high-dimensional data.


How do the courses in the Data Science Specialization depend on each other?
We have created a handy course dependency chart to help you see how the nine courses in the specialization depend on each other.

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

What resources will I need for this class?
Students must have the latest version of R and RStudio installed.

How does this course fit into the Data Science Specialization?

This is the fourth course in the track. We recommend that you first take The Data Scientist's Toolbox and R Programming.


After successfully completing this course you will be able to make visual representations of data using the base, lattice, and ggplot2 plotting systems in R, apply basic principles of data graphics to create rich analytic graphics from different types of datasets, construct exploratory summaries of data in support of a specific question, and create visualizations of multidimensional data using exploratory multivariate statistical techniques.


There will be weekly video lectures, quizzes, and peer assessments.

As part of this class you will be required to set up a GitHub account. GitHub is a tool for collaborative code sharing and editing. During this course and other courses in the Specialization you will be submitting links to files you publicly place in your GitHub account as part of peer evaluation. If you are concerned about preserving your anonymity you will need to set up an anonymous GitHub account and be careful not to include any information you do not want made available to peer evaluators.

Course Workload

3-5 hours/week

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