Follow the Data

A data driven blog

Google Prediction API open to all

I’ve been eagerly waiting to use the Google Prediction API ever since it was announced, and now (since sometime in May) it’s open for everyone who has a Google account (and a credit card). Previously, you had to be able to provide a U.S. mailing address.

Google’s Prediction API is basically a nice way to run your classification and/or prediction tasks through Google’s black-box set of machine learning tools. The way it works is that you upload your training data to Google Storage, which is something like Google’s version of Amazon’s S3: a cloud-based storage system where you store your data in “buckets”. (Google Storage, like S3, uses the term bucket and, also like S3, requires that bucket names only use lower-case letters.) You can activate both Google Storage and the Prediction API from the Google APIs Console. This is also where you will find (click “API access” on the left hand menu) the access key that you will need to run prediction tasks. You’ll have to give credit card details to pay for potential future usage.

The training examples that you put in Storage need to be formatted according to the specification in the Developer’s Guide. Once they have been uploaded, you can train a model on the uploaded data, make predictions about new examples, update existing models and more using one of the client libraries or even simpler, just by copying some of the bash scripts shown on the same page (hidden behind ‘+’ signs which can be expanded.) For these bash scripts to work as written on that page, you need to paste your API key into a file called ‘googlekey’ located in the directory from where you are running the script.

I used this walkthrough example about cancer classification from gene expression data to get up to speed on how Google Prediction API works. Now I’m thinking about what data to throw at it next. Perhaps it would be fun to input some Kaggle contest data sets into it as a kind of “Google baseline” predictor? 🙂

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