Generating Permutation Matrices in Octave / Matlab

I have been doing Gilbert Strang’s linear algebra assignments, some of which require you to write short scripts in MatLab, though I use GNU Octave (which is kind of like a free MatLab). I was trying out this problem:

permutationMatricesTo solve this quickly, it would have been nice to have a function that would give a list of permutation matrices for every n-sized square matrix, but there was none in Octave, so I wrote a function permMatrices which creates a list of permutation matrices for a square matrix of size n.

For example:


The MatLab / Octave code to solve this problem is shown below:


Output for 13(a)
Output for 13(b)



Solutions to Machine Learning Programming Assignments

This post contains links to a bunch of code that I have written to complete Andrew Ng’s famous machine learning course which includes several interesting machine learning problems that needed to be solved using the Octave / Matlab programming language. I’m not sure I’d ever be programming in Octave after this course, but learning Octave just so that I could complete this course seemed worth the time and effort. I would usually work on the programming assignments on Sundays and spend several hours coding in Octave, telling myself that I would later replicate the exercises in Python.

If you’ve taken this course and found some of the assignments hard to complete, I think it might not hurt to go check online on how a particular function was implemented. If you end up copying the entire code, it’s probably your loss in the long run. But then John Maynard Keynes once said, ‘In the long run we are all dead‘. Yeah, and we wonder why people call Economics the dismal science!

Most people disregard Coursera’s feeble attempt at reigning in plagiarism by creating an Honor Code, precisely because this so-called code-of-conduct can be easily circumvented. I don’t mind posting solutions to a course’s programming assignments because GitHub is full to the brim with such content. Plus, it’s always good to read others’ code even if you implemented a function correctly. It helps understand the different ways of tackling a given programming problem.




Getting Started

I have been searching for good MOOCs to get me started with R and Python programming languages. I’ve already begun the Johns Hopkins University Data Science Specialization on Coursera. It consists of 9 courses (including Data Scientist’s Toolbox, R programming, Getting and Cleaning Data, Exploratory Data Analysis, Reproducible Research, Statistical Inference, Regression Models, Practical Machine Learning and Developing Data Products), ending with a 7-week Capstone Project that I’m MOST excited about. I want to get there fast.

The Capstone would consist of :
  • Building a predictive data model for analyzing large textual data sets
  • Cleaning real-world data and perform complex regressions
  • Creating visualizations to communicate data analyses
  • Building a final data product in collaboration with SwiftKey, award-winning developer of leading keyboard apps for smartphones

I started with the R programming course where I found the programming assignments to be moderately difficult. They were good practice and also time-consuming for me since I haven’t yet gotten used to the R syntax, which is supposedly unintuitive. Anyway, I completed the course with distinction (90+ marks) scoring 95 on 100, losing 5 because I hadn’t familiarized myself with Git / GitHub. I did this course for a verified certificate, which cost me $29, and looks like this:

Coursera rprog 2015

I won’t be paying for any of the remaining courses though, but still will get a certificate of accomplishment for each course I pass. I have alredy begun with Getting and Cleaning Data and Data Scientist’s Toolbox.

I checked today, and it seems Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning course has gone open to all and is self-paced. A lot of people have gone on to participate in Kaggle competitions with what they learnt in his course, so I’d like to experience it — even though it’s taught with Octave / MATLAB. My very short term goal is to start participating in these competitions ASAP.

Kaggle Competitions

I will be learning the basics of Git this week and along with that, about reading from MySQL, HDF5, the web and APIs. I intend to start reading Trevor Hastie’s highly recommended book, Introduction to Statistical Learning.

ISL Cover 2


Meanwhile, I need to get started with Git and GitHub too, and I found a very useful blog by Kevin Markham and his short concise videos are great introductory material.

Incidentally, I was in a dilemma whether to start with Hastie’s material or Andrew Ng’s course first. This is what Kevin had to say

Hastie or Ng

The only reason I have reservations against Andrew Ng’s course is that its instruction isn’t in R or Python. Also, CTO and co-founder of Kaggle, Ben Hamner mentions here how useful R and Python are vis-à-vis Matlab / Octave.

Ben Hamner on Python R Matlab v2