Pattern Discovery in Data Mining - Week 1

Today's the final day of the first week of the first course in the new coursera Data Mining specialization - "Pattern Discovery in Data Mining".

This introduction covered a lot of ground, from a general introduction to transactional databases to frequent patterns and how to identify them (the a priori algorithm and FP trees were discussed). The lectures total only a bit over one hour, but this was definitely one of the more difficult first weeks of the coursera courses I have followed.

This is not only because the material is in itself quite dense, but also because the lecturer Jiawei Han, has such a strong accent that the course is sometimes hard to follow. I had to google some definitions to make sure I understood what's going on.

For example, when explaining the difference between closed patterns and max patterns, the slides (and Mr. Han) state: "Do not care the real support of the sub patterns of a max-pattern", which is not extremely helpful when one is struggling with the concepts anyway.

In general though the course is off to a great start - the selection of material is interesting and the quiz was just hard enough to be challenging but not so difficult as to be frustrating.

I will go through some of the code I used this week below (all code for this specialization can be found at

def frequentItems(items, tdb, n, s):
    itemsets = set(itertools.combinations(items, n))

    itemTransactions = []
    for i in itemsets:
        for k,v in tdb1.items():
            if set(v).intersection(set(i)) == set(i):

    ret = []
    for k,v in sorted(Counter(itemTransactions).items()):
        if v >= s * len(tdb):
            ret.append([k, v])

After storing all transactions in a dictionary and creating a list of individual items, I defined a function which outputs all frequent itemsets of a given length n with minimum support s. This code first creates all possible itemsets from the list of unique items in the database. In the second step, each itemset is compared to every transaction in the database and recorded if a match is found. Finally, the function outputs all matches and the number of times a transaction matching the itemset was found.

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