Jun 4, 2013

Fancy Kung-fu Kicks and Getting the Job Done

Eyes closed, feet high off the ground and off the target, hands uselessly spread

You have all seen these movies where athletic guys make funny sharp noises, kick high in the sky and throw punches like machine guns. For my great delight some of them even fly from a tree to another. But this is not the movies only. Martial arts have been devalued to a simple aerobic exercise despite the tons of old Chinese, Korean and Japan proverbs written over the gym. One of the results is there too many fancy kicks, beautiful positions, tricks and very little tactics and blows that actually do the job and finish the combat. It makes me laugh to watch hard-trained guys a fight that is a display of brilliant technique and no result. The fights between real masters and professionals are rather short (don be confused by the movies). Methods and approach applied in analytics very often remind me about this lack of ability to address the real issue and hit the core of the problem.

Аnalytics is а big thing now and suddenly the world is full with experienced analysts that cover what seems to be a universe of analytical methods. What makes the difference between them? Listen to them talking about this or that method, mentioning obscure Russian scientists and plenty of аbbreviations. Like in some kung-fu movies where the character fight forever with no success, there is lot fancy techniques poured on a problem and no definitive solution created. How does that happen?
There are some tough to tackle problems with no obvious solution and lots of methods may need to be tried before successful one is found. These are rare though. In most of the cases it is about human shortcomings - showing off, making impression, justifying the high charges or a "linear combination" of these. That is why you could see a really complex solution on a simple problem.

This is not to say that simple solutions are always the rights solutions. I know a guy who tries to win every fight with applying the same combination of two punches and a low kick no matter the opponent. I also know people who apply linear regression no matter the problem. Same thing. I also know taekwondo practitioners that could throw fast high kicks for an hour but cannot reach or do any damage to the opponent. Similarly, some analysts know all there is to know about analytical methods but still are bad at finding efficient solutions. The knowledge for the right tactics and rights methods to apply come after number of  real fights or work on real world problems.

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