How good is the Prosper borrower rating?

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

For a regular investor, the single most important field in the Prosper dataset is the Prosper borrower rating. This is an estimate of a borrower’s creditworthiness based on various other metrics, including employment length, number of open accounts, prior delinquencies and many others. Based on the aggregate score, the borrowers are then split into seven groups: AA, A, B and so on. Alternatively, an investor may use numerical ratings ranging from 1 to 7, with 7 corresponding to the safest, most trustworthy borrowers.

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Digital news and social media

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

We are living in the era of digital news. If you follow the news, there is a strong likelihood that you receive it through the digital media. There are a few main native digital news organizations in the United States.

According to the information that was published at Statista.com in 2014, the largest digital news organization in the U.S. was Vice with 1,100 editorial staff (including full-time staff). The Huffington Post employed 575 full-time editorial staff, while the number of people employed by Politico and BuzzFeed amounted to 186 and 170 respectively. The editorial staff of Bleacher Report amounted to 140 employees. Gawker employed 132 people, while Mashable and Business Insider had the same number of full-time editorial staff (70 employees).

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The nation on the move slows down

Kristine Barseghyan

Kristine Barseghyan, Ph.D. (ABD) Social Sciences

People in the United States are more geographically mobile than in any other western country — at least they used to be. The idea that one can choose to move to a place that promises better life has been an important part of American life. For more than 40 percent of Americans who change their address every five years,[i] mobility is a lifestyle.

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Workplace violence in the United States

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Workplace violence (intentional injury caused by a person) remains to be the second leading cause of work-related fatalities in the U.S. It accounts for around 10 percent of all work-related deaths each year (with another 4 to 5 percent being suicides).

The vast majority of these cases were shootings, which constituted 82 percent of all homicides (and 49 percent of all suicides).

Importantly, the number of homicides has fallen by a third since 2003. In 2017, 417 incidents were recorded. This is not much higher than the lowest number ever: 404 in 2013.

On the other hand, the number of suicides keeps growing (albeit rather slowly). Here, 2013 also stands out — but this time it’s because of the highest number (282 incidents).

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E-book market in the United States

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

The internet era elevated the process of reading books to a whole new level. Since text was adapted into an electronic document for the first time, many people have abandoned physical books. The forecast by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that the revenue of the e-book market in the United States will grow by $8.68 million in 2018. By the end of this year, e-book sales will generate about $7.5 million. The forecast projects $8.23 million in revenue for e-books in 2017.

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Innovation in Silicon Valley

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

One particular area always stands out when discussing innovation in the United States: a portion of Santa Clara County, CA better known as Silicon Valley. The valley serves as a home to several of the largest high-tech companies in the country.

It’s not about the high-tech giants, though. The number of companies that were issued at least one new patent has doubled since 2000. The number of individually-issued patents also keeps growing slowly but steadily, as evidenced by the chart below.

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Home buyers: numbers and facts

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

If we examine the statistics representing first-time home buyers in the United States in 2015, we see that a majority of buyers in the 35-and-under age group were first-time buyers, at 67 percent. About 26 percent, of 36 to 50-year-olds were first-time buyers in 2015. The share of first-time buyers in the 51 to 60-year-old age group amounted to 11 percent, while people aged 61 to 69 who were first-time buyers only made up 6 percent.

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Satisfaction with Life and Happiness in the U.S.

Kristine Barseghyan

Kristine Barseghyan, Ph.D. (ABD) Social Sciences

The phrase “I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle,” now a catchphrase, belongs to a 20-year-old female contestant on a Chinese game show. For her, like for many of us, sadness in luxury is preferable to happiness in necessity. But when the conditions for happiness are that high, frustration with reality makes people unhappy. China is generally not a very happy nation — it finished in a low 93rd in the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations in September 2013.[i] In contrast, Denmark, which has the second most bicycles per capita (4,500,000 bicycles per 5,560,628 people, 80.1 percent of the population being cyclists)[ii], is the happiest nation in the world. BMWs are not for everyone, but bicycles are.

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Finding patterns in gun violence in the U.S.

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

The deadliest shooting in U.S. history happened last year in Las Vegas. But there is much more to gun-related incidents. The Gun Violence Archive database is one of the most complete sources of data. By now, it has records of over 30,000 gun-related incidents that happened this year — and that’s excluding accidental shootings.

Is there any pattern? Or are these incidents completely random?

Here’s a plot showing the total number of incidents, day-by-day, from the start of the year.

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Hard market: consumption and production of cement

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

Cement is one of the world’s key building materials, both in the residential and nonresidential sectors. This material is also used for the production of concrete. Thus, over 70 percent of cement sales in the United States were made to producers of ready-mixed concrete, and about 12 percent of sales went to concrete product manufacturers. According to information published at Statista.com, around 4,100 million metric tons of cement were produced globally in 2015. The U.S. accounted for about 83.4 million metric tons of this production. The year before, 4,180 million metric tons of material were produced worldwide, and 83.2 million metric tons were produced in the U.S. In 2013, these numbers decreased: 4,080 million metric tons globally and about 77.4 million metric tons in the U.S.

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Telling stories through data