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First of all I do not have a mathematics degree only a B.S. in finance so please take that into account when writing an answer. Generally what type of mathematics is involved here? And specifically what statistical formulas can be used in a scenario like this?

Recently Target was able to predict that a teen girl was pregnant by analyzing the items she had purchased, and sent her the appropriate coupons for her current condition. I would like to know broadly how were they able to do this, and specifically what types of mathematical formulas they used/ can be used to do this. The link below will describe the specific situation.


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Did you bother with the tag excerpts that people worked so hard to have here? [model-theory] is one of the furthest things from statistics and "modeling" that I can imagine. –  Asaf Karagila Mar 2 '12 at 0:06
The specifics are probably private corporate information. Also, it's a probabilistic gambit, not a logical deduction on the part of Target's system (FYI). –  anon Mar 2 '12 at 0:09
Sounds like an exercise in data mining to me, and would probably fall under the heading of "market basket analysis": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_basket_analysis –  ItsNotObvious Mar 2 '12 at 0:10
Data mining, machine learning, many things. I think this question should be moved to stackoverflow. Otherwise, the question is too broad & should be closed. –  user2468 Mar 2 '12 at 1:46
I suspect that one of the first tools used here would be a naive Bayes classifier: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naive_Bayes_classifier If that's not accurate enough, they can then move on to more sophisticated things. –  Tanner Swett Mar 2 '12 at 2:04

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