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Data Analysis Using SQL and Excel

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Gordon Linoff and I have written three and a half books together. (Four, if we get to count the second edition of Data Mining Techniques as a whole new book; it didn’t feel like any less work.) Neither of us has written a book without the other before, so I must admit to a tiny twinge of regret upon first seeing the cover of this one without my name on it next to Gordon’s. The feeling passed very quickly as recollections of the authorial life came flooding back—vacations spent at the keyboard instead of in or on the lake, opportunities missed, relationships strained. More importantly, this is a book that only Gordon Linoff could have written. His unique combination of talents and experiences informs every chapter.

I first met Gordon at Thinking Machines Corporation, a now long-defunct manufacturer of parallel supercomputers where we both worked in the late eighties and early nineties. Among other roles, Gordon managed the implementation of a parallel relational database designed to support complex analytical queries on very large databases. The design point for this database was radically different from other relational database systems available at the time in that no trade-offs were made to support transaction processing. The requirements for a system designed to quickly retrieve or update a single record are quite different from the requirements for a system to scan and join huge tables. Jettisoning the requirement to support transaction processing made for a cleaner, more efficient database for analytical processing. This part of Gordon’s background means he understands SQL for data analysis literally from the inside out.
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