Data mining is everywhere, but its story starts many years before Moneyball and Edward Snowden. The following are major milestones and “firsts” in the history of data mining plus how it’s evolved and blended with data science and big data.

Data mining is the computational process of exploring and uncovering patterns in large data sets a.k.a. Big Data. It’s a subfield of computer science which blends many techniques from statistics, data science, database theory and machine learning.

**1763** Thomas Bayes’ paper is published posthumously regarding a theorem for relating current probability to prior probability called the Bayes’ theorem. It is fundamental to data mining and probability, since it allows understanding of complex realities based on estimated probabilities.

**1805** Adrien-Marie Legendre and Carl Friedrich Gauss apply regression to determine the orbits of bodies about the Sun (comets and planets). The goal of regression analysis is to estimate the relationships among variables, and the specific method they used in this case is the method of least squares. Regression is one of the key tools in data mining.

**1936** This is the dawn of computer age which makes possible the collection and processing of large amounts of data. In a 1936 paper, On Computable Numbers, Alan Turing introduced the idea of a Universal Machine capable of performing computations like our modern day computers. The modern day computer is built on the concepts pioneered by Turing.

**1943** Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts were the first to create a conceptual model of a neural network. In a paper entitled A logical calculus of the ideas immanent in nervous activity, they describe the idea of a neuron in a network. Each of these neurons can do 3 things: receive inputs, process inputs and generate output.

**1965 **Lawrence J. Fogel formed a new company called Decision Science, Inc. for applications of evolutionary programming. It was the first company specifically applying evolutionary computation to solve real-world problems.

**1970s** With sophisticated database management systems, it’s possible to store and query terabytes and petabytes of data. In addition, data warehouses allow users to move from a transaction-oriented way of thinking to a more analytical way of viewing the data. However, extracting sophisticated insights from these data warehouses of multidimensional models is very limited.

**1975** John Henry Holland wrote Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems, the ground-breaking book on genetic algorithms. It is the book that initiated this field of study, presenting the theoretical foundations and exploring applications.

**1980s** HNC trademarks the phrase “database mining.” The trademark was meant to protect a product called DataBase Mining Workstation. It was a general purpose tool for building neural network models and now no longer is available. It’s also during this period that sophisticated algorithms can “learn” relationships from data that allow subject matter experts to reason about what the relationships mean.

**1989** The term “Knowledge Discovery in Databases” (KDD) is coined by Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro. It also at this time that he co-founds the first workshop also named KDD.

**1990s** The term “data mining” appeared in the database community. Retail companies and the financial community are using data mining to analyze data and recognize trends to increase their customer base, predict fluctuations in interest rates, stock prices, customer demand.

**1992** Bernhard E. Boser, Isabelle M. Guyon and Vladimir N. Vapnik suggested an improvement on the original support vector machine which allows for the creation of nonlinear classifiers. Support vector machines are a supervised learning approach that analyzes data and recognizes patterns used for classification and regression analysis.

**1993** Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro starts the newsletter Knowledge Discovery Nuggets (KDnuggets). It was originally meant to connect researchers who attended the KDD workshop. However, KDnuggets.com seems to have a much wider audience now.

**2001** Although the term data science has existed since 1960s, it wasn’t until 2001 that William S. Cleveland introduced it as an independent discipline. As per Build Data Science Teams, DJ Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher then used the term to describe their roles at LinkedIn and Facebook.

**2003 **Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, is published and changed the way many major league front offices do business. The Oakland Athletics used a statistical, data-driven approach to select for qualities in players that were undervalued and cheaper to obtain. In this manner, they successfully assembled a team that brought them to the 2002 and 2003 playoffs with 1/3 the payroll.

**2015** In February 2015, DJ Patil became the first Chief Data Scientist at the White House. Today, data mining is widespread in business, science, engineering and medicine just to name a few. Mining of credit card transactions, stock market movements, national security, genome sequencing and clinical trials are just the tip of the iceberg for data mining applications.Terms like Big Data are now commonplace with the collection of data becoming cheaper and the proliferation of devices capable of collecting data.

**Present (2016)** Finally, one of the most active techniques being explored today is Deep Learning. Capable of capturing dependencies and complex patterns far beyond other techniques, it is reigniting some of the biggest challenges in the world of data mining, data science and artificial intelligence.

There you have it! A whirlwind story of data mining. Did I miss anything that deserves to be mentioned? Did I capture something inaccurately? Let me know in the comments below, or email me.

**Interesting Resources**

- Data Mining Resources (Marcus P. Zillman)
- From Data Mining to Big Data and Beyond
- Moneyball (Wikipedia)
- NeuralWare Professional II/Plus, HNC Database Mining Workstation
- The Nature of Code, Chapter 10. Neural Networks
- The Analytics Big Bang
- Very Short History of Data Science (Forbes)
- What is the Origin of Data Mining?
- History of Data Mining Infographic (visual.ly)

thanks for sharing

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Suanfazu. 🙂

One of the challenging CAPTCHA questions I’ve ever faced, thanks for the links though! 😀

Glad you found the links useful, Albert.

The CAPTCHA is not my favorite, but it’s been more effective than other approaches (probably because it is more challenging).

Hello Mr. Li, have you read a blog post from Barry Devlin who claimed to be the father of Data Warehouse? http://www.b-eye-network.com/blogs/devlin/archives/2009/08/fathers_of_the_data_warehouse_3.php there was a comment that a true data warehouse had been the one from WalMart and Teradata?

Then how about the Operation Igloo White in Vietnam, US Military involve a lot of sensor to track Vietnamese Troops, how this one could be done in 1960s?

Thank you sir for sharing a very important and short n sweet history about data mining..

Wonderful article

Hi dear Ray.

Can u help me with Clustering History? I need a background about clustering.

thanks in advance.