PublicationsFrom: Tom Fawcett firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 23:49:20 -0400
Subject: Origin of "diapers and beer"
Many people in data mining have heard the famous "diapers and beer" example (a significant number of people who buy diapers also tend to buy beer at the same time). It's often cited as an interesting association rule discovered (or at least discoverable) from market basket data. I heard an explanation of the origin of this example, from Lounette Dyer via Ronny Kohavi, and I thought KDnuggets readers would be interested. Lounette (loon at cogit dot com) gave me permission to forward it: ============================== The "diapers and beer" example was created by Tom Blishok who ran a retail consulting group for NCR. They first did market basket for Osco Drugs in Chicago. This pre-dated commercial availability of associations algorithms (1992?). Tom had a team of a half dozen or so SQL hackers (I know a couple of them) creating queries that defined affinities that they thought might be in the data. They found "cosmetics and greeting cards" and a few others. In the process of Tom creating materials for NCR to make the argument for why you want to house transaction data he needed a snappy example, so he dreamed up the "diapers and beer" example. To the best of my knowledge it was never supported in any data that they analyzed. Tom's original example had "diapers and beer" appearing in C-Store data which, to the best of my knowledge, they never analyzed at the transaction level. I have some of Tom's early writings and presentations on market basket analysis. Its interesting that everyone thinks that MBA was invented by the assoc. algorithms camp, when actually the SQL camp had already been trying to find business value in it. ============================== It's still a nice example, of course. As they say, never let truth get in the way of a good story. Tom Fawcett HP Labs Palo Alto, Editor Note: A search of old KDnuggets Issues found two references to diapers and beer -- www.kdnuggets.com/news/96/n08.html and www.kdnuggets.com/news/96/n16.html GPS
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