Online Controlled Experiments, Learning From Running A/B/n Tests At Scale

The SIAM Student chapter and the Statistics department will be hosting a joint seminar by Kaska Adoteye, a data scientist from Microsoft and NC State alumni.

The seminar is at 4:30-5:30 PM in SAS 1216.

Abstract: How much is an idea really worth? What defines success for a product? How can we quantify “better” or “worse”? At Microsoft we have tens of thousands of engineers and data scientists trying to improve products that touch over a billion people worldwide. The data scale is enormous, and we’re trying to learn from that data daily. How can we do this effectively? The Internet provides developers of connected software, including web sites, applications, and devices, an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate innovation by evaluating ideas quickly and accurately using trustworthy controlled experiments (e.g., A/B tests and their generalizations). From front-end user-interface changes to backend recommendation systems and relevance algorithms, from search engines (e.g., Google, Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo) to retailers (e.g., Amazon, eBay, Netflix, Etsy) to social networking services (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) to Travel services (e.g., Expedia, Airbnb, to many startups, online controlled experiments are now utilized to make data-driven decisions at a wide range of companies. While the theory of a controlled experiment is simple, and dates back to Sir Ronald A. Fisher’s experiments at the Rothamsted Agricultural Experimental Station in England in the 1920s, the deployment and mining of online controlled experiments at scale and deployment of online controlled experiments across dozens of web sites and applications has taught us many lessons. We provide an introduction, share real examples, key lessons, and cultural challenges.