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Machine Learning and Systems Thinking : Uncovering the Power of Time

Time-Use as a Measure of Organizational Behavior

Machine Learning Project Description

Using system thinking principles to guide your machine learning experiments allows you to maintain a deeper understanding of the elements that influence intelligent systems and will aid in avoiding the common pitfalls of machine learning projects.

In this series, I will demonstrate purposeful machine learning using a sample time-use dataset. Time-use datasets include snapshots or summaries of how a person spends or allocates their time. We will explore how data can uncover patterns of behavior using a real-world dataset containing both unstructured and structured data. To begin, we will start with a training set of approximately 120K work day summaries (reflects approx. 1000 unique people). A link explaining the process and results of each experiment will be posted in the Experiments table below.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions or input, feel free to post them in the comments area.

Input Data

This is a selective dataset which includes activities performed while working. An exhaustive dataset would include all activities that an employee engages in during the relevant time period.
  1. Time period data – The time period in which the activity was performed
  2. Activity data – activities performed (includes unstructured and structured data)
  3. Quantitative values – the total time spent on activities during the associated time period


Phase Question to be Answered Learning Type Training Dataset Size Results
I. How are activities organized? Unsupervised, (Clustering) 120K In progress
II. What kind of person is this? (ex: Administrator, Teacher, Service Provider, Independent Contractor or Other) Supervised (Classification) 120K In progress
III. How much of this person’s time will be spent performing administrative duties? Supervised (Regression) 120K In progress
IV. Is this an abnormal work day? Unsupervised (Anomaly Detection) 120K In progress
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Kishau Rogers is the editor and founder of The bigThinking Project. The bigThinking Project is a resource center and collaborative innovation project which promotes the principles of systems thinking. Our mission is to empower the next generation of innovators to think bigger, to think better and to create solutions which make significant impact in the areas that matter. Kishau Rogers is an award-winning entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the computer science industry. She is a serial entrepreneur having founded and co-founded companies such as Websmith Group, TimeStudy, PeerLoc Inc., and Websmith Studio.

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