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Rare and Hidden Event Detection

For our June Meetup, we are thrilled to have Gerhard Pilcher from Elder Research, Inc., presenting on the topic of rare event detection in data sets.

  • 6:30pm -- Networking and Refreshments
  • 7:00pm -- Introduction
  • 7:10pm -- Mr. Pilcher's presentation and Q&A
  • around 8:30pm -- Adjourn for Data Drinks


There are a collection of interesting problems associated with rare and hidden events. Most people naturally associate this class of problems with fraud detection and criminal activity but there are many other applications in science and marketing. By definition there are a lot of “non-events” in Rare Event detection resulting in noise that confuses attempts to model or discriminate among event outcomes. I will share some of our experiences with sorting through the noise and amplifying the response signal and discuss some techniques to increase confidence (or not!) in the resulting model. I use the term “hidden event”, also called unsupervised modeling, to describe a set of problems where the event outcome is unknown or the number of known cases is too small to be useful in machine learning algorithms. Detecting hidden events requires a much higher level of subject matter knowledge. I will discuss some general approaches to this class of problem and then focus on Mahalanobis distance measurement as an example technique for anomaly detection. I hope everyone will have the opportunity to add a few new tools to their data analysis “tool box”.


Gerhard Pilcher's work experience spans both private and government sectors, and has featured applications of data mining techniques to Fraud Detection and Risk Management. He currently serves as Vice President and Senior Scientist at Elder Research. Among his previous roles, he was Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering for Pulse Communications, where he directed the design of early digital subscriber line (DSL) systems.

Gerhard has served on various boards including the Strategic Advisory Board for the North Carolina State University Computer Science Department. He has a Master of Science in Analytics (Institute for Advanced Analytics, NCSU) and Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from NCSU.

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  • Gerhard P.

    Received permission to post the slides and plan to post when I return to DC July 12th. Thanks to all who attended!

    July 6, 2012

  • Amrinder A.

    Great! Thanks for the MP3. Are the presentation slides available as well?

    July 2, 2012

  • Harlan H.

    The audio is here: You'll have to be logged in to Meetup to download it.

    June 30, 2012

  • Jorge O.

    It was a great presentation. I also think it was a good balance of detail and general. Wish i could be in town for more meet ups!

    June 29, 2012

  • Marcin G.

    Topic very interestin. Presentation engaging but too crammed. Enough topics for 2-3 full meetups. A little weak on explaning basics.

    June 29, 2012

  • Abhijit

    It was a good talk, but more on the survey side than the detail side. This is expected, since the topic is broad. It was good to get some insight on how a professional consulting firm approaches these problems

    June 29, 2012

  • Doug_S

    Excellent presentation, lots of good discussion, met a couple of people I want to collaborate with. No complaints!

    June 29, 2012

  • Venkat C.

    Very good presentation

    June 29, 2012

  • Kristin W.

    I thought the speaker could have done a much better job of defining technical terms and providing continual reminders of context of how each step of the analysis process specially served his subject matter.

    June 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was my first DSDC event, and I was thoroughly impressed. The speaker presented interesting ideas that were directly relevant to my work, and the crowd was knowledgeable, fun, and friendly. Very well done!

    June 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member


    June 29, 2012

  • Tony O.

    I thought the presentation was very informative and struck a good balance in depth - not too high-level that you don't learn from it and not too detailed that your eyes glaze over. Gerhard did a great job in presenting the material in a way that was understandable, with anecdotes thrown in and a little comedy here and there. I really enjoyed it and walked away with some ideas to apply to my own data.

    June 29, 2012

  • Naveen

    If someone is coming from Rockville/Gaithersburg area, please let me know, maybe we can share a ride. Thanks, Naveen

    June 17, 2012

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