Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Blue Box Blog, Elizabeth White, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Real-Time Fraud Detection in the Cloud

Using machine learning agent ensembles

This article explores how to detect fraud among online banking customers in real-time by running an ensemble of statistical and machine learning algorithms on a dataset of customer transactions and demographic data. The algorithms, namely Logistic Regression, Self-Organizing Maps and Support Vector Machines, are operationalized using a multi-agent framework for real-time data analysis. This article also explores the cloud environment for real-time analytics by deploying the agent framework in a cloud environment that meets computational demands by letting users' provision virtual machines within managed data centers, freeing them from the worry of acquiring and setting up new hardware and networks.

Real-time decision making is becoming increasingly valuable with the advancement of data collection and analytics techniques. Due to the increase in the speed of processing, the classical data warehousing model is moving toward a real-time model. A platform that enables the rapid development and deployment of applications, reducing the lag between data acquisition and actionable insight has become of paramount importance in the corporate world. Such a system can be used for the classic case of deriving information from data collected in the past and also to have a real-time engine that reacts to events as they occur. Some examples of such applications include:

  • A product company can get real-time feedback for their new releases using data from social media
  • Algorithmic trading by reacting in real times to fluctuations in stock prices
  • Real-time recommendations for food and entertainment based on a customer's location
  • Traffic signal operations based on real-time information of volume of traffic
  • E-commerce websites can detect a customer transaction being authentic or fraudulent in real-time

A cloud-based ecosystem enables users to build an application that detects, in real-time, fraudulent customers based on their demographic information and financial history. Multiple algorithms are utilized to detect fraud and the output is aggregated to improve prediction accuracy.

The dataset used to demonstrate this application comprises of various customer demographic variables and financial information such as age, residential address, office address, income type, income frequency, bankruptcy filing status, etc. The dependent variable (the variable to be predicted) is called "bad", which is a binary variable taking the value 0 (for not fraud) or 1 (for fraud).

Using Cloud for Effective Usage of Resources
A system that allows the development of applications capable of churning out results in real-time has multiple services running in tandem and is highly resource intensive. By deploying the system in the cloud, maintenance and load balancing of the system can be handled efficiently. It will also give the user more time to focus on application development. For the purpose of fraud detection, the active components, for example, include:

  • ActiveMQ
  • Web services
  • PostgreSQL

This approach combines the strengths and synergies of both cloud computing and machine learning technologies, providing a small company or even a startup that is unlikely to have specialized staff and necessary infrastructure for what is a computationally intensive approach, the ability to build a system that make decisions based on historical transactions.

Agent Paradigm
As multiple algorithms are to be run on the same data, a real-time agent paradigm is chosen to run these algorithms. An agent is an autonomous entity that may expect inputs and send outputs after performing a set of instructions. In a real-time system, these agents are wired together with directed connections to form an agency. An agent typically has two behaviors, cyclic and triggered. Cyclic agents, as the name suggests, run continuously in a loop and do not need any input. These are usually the first agents in an agency and are used for streaming data to the agency by connecting to an external real-time data source. A triggered agent runs every time it receives a message from a cyclic agent or another triggered agent. Once it consumes one message, it waits for the next message to arrive.

Figure 1: A simple agency with two agents

In Figure 1, Agent 1 is a cyclic agent while Agent 2 is a triggered agent. Agent 1 finishes its computation and sends a message to Agent 2, which uses the message as an input for further computation.

Feature Selection and Data Treatment
The dataset used for demonstrating fraud detection agency has 250 variables (features) pertaining to the demographic and financial history of the customers. To reduce the number of features, a Random Forest run was conducted on the dataset to obtain variable importance. Next, the top 30 variables were selected based on the variable importance. This reduced dataset was used for running a list of classification algorithms.

Algorithms for Fraud Detection
The fraud detection problem is a binary classification problem for which we have chosen three different algorithms to classify the input data into fraud (1) and not fraud (0). Each algorithm is configured as a triggered agent for our real-time system.

Logistic Regression
This is a probabilistic classification model where the dependent variable (the variable to be predicted) is a binary variable or a categorical variable. In case of binary dependent variables favorable outcomes are represented as 1 and non-favorable outcomes are represented as 0. Logistic regression models the probability of the dependent variable taking the value 0 or 1.

For the fraud detection problem, the dependent variable "bad" is modelled to give probabilities to each customer of being fraud or not. The equation takes multiple variables as input and returns a value between 0 & 1 which is the probability of "bad" being 0. If this value is greater than 0.7, then that customer is classified as not fraud.

Self-Organizing Maps (SOM)
This is an artificial neural network that uses unsupervised learning to represent the data in lower (typically two dimensions) dimensions. This representation of the input data in lower dimensions is called a map. Like most artificial neural networks, SOMs operate in two modes: training and mapping. "Training" builds the map using input examples, while "mapping" automatically classifies a new input vector.

For the fraud detection problem, the input space which is a fifty dimensional space is mapped to a two dimensional lattice of nodes. The training is done using data from the recent past and the new data is mapped using the trained model, which puts it either in the "fraud" cluster or "not - fraud" cluster.

Figure 2: x is an in-put vector in higher dimension, discretized in 2D using wij as the weight matrix
Image Source:

Support Vector Machines (SVM)
This is a supervised learning technique used generally for classifying data. It needs a training dataset where the data is already classified into the required categories. It creates a hyperplane or set of hyperplanes that can be used for classification. The hyperplane is chosen such that it separates the different classes and the margin between the samples in the training set is widest.

For the fraud detection problem, SVM classifies the data points into two classes. The hyperplane is chosen by training the model over the past data. Using the variable "bad", the clusters are labeled as "0" (fraud) and "1" (not fraud). The new data points are classified using the hyperplane obtained while training.

Figure 3: Of the three hyperplanes which segment the data, H2 is the hyperplane which classifies the data accurately

Image Source:

Fraud Detection Agency
A four-tier agency is created to build a workflow process for fraud detection.

Streamer Agent (Tier 1): This agent streams data in real-time to agents in Tier 2. It is the first agent in the agency and its behavior is cyclic. It connects to a real-time data source, pre-processes the data and sends it to the agents in the next layer.

Algorithm Agents (Tier 2): This tier has multiple agents running an ensemble of algorithms with one agent per algorithm. Each agent receives the message from the streamer agent and uses a pre-trained (trained on historical data) model for scoring.

Collator Agent (Tier 3): This agent receives scores from agents in Tier 2 and generates a single score by aggregating the scores. It then converts the score into an appropriate JSON format and sends it to an UI agent for consumption.

User Interface Agent (Tier 4): This agent pushes the messages it receives to a socket server. Any external socket client can be used to consume these messages.

Figure 4: The Fraud detection agency with agents in each layer. The final agent is mapped to a port to which a socket client can connect

Results and Model Validation
The models were trained on 70% of the data and the remaining 30% of the data was streamed to the above agency simulating a real-time data source.

Under-sample: The ratio of number of 0s to the number of 1s in the original dataset for the variable "bad" is 20:1. This would lead to biasing the models towards 0. To overcome this, we sample the training dataset by under-sampling the number of 0s to maintain the ration at 10:1.

The final output of the agency is the classification of the input as fraudulent or not. Since the value for the variable "bad" is already known for this data, it helps us gauge the accuracy of the aggregated model.

Figure 5: Accuracy for detecting fraud ("bad"=1) for different sampling ratio between no.of 0s and no. of 1s in the training dataset

Fraud detection can be improved by running an ensemble of algorithms in parallel and aggregating the predictions in real-time. This entire end-to-end application was designed and deployed in three working days. This shows the power of a system that enables easy deployment of real-time analytics applications. The work flow becomes inherently parallel as these agents run as separate processes communicating with each other. Deploying this in the cloud makes it horizontally scalable owing to effective load balancing and hardware maintenance. It also provides higher data security and makes the system fault tolerant by making processes mobile. This combination of a real-time application development system and a cloud-based computing enables even non-technical teams to rapidly deploy applications.


  • Gravic Inc, "The Evolution of Real-Time Business Intelligence", ""
  • Bernhard Schlkopf, Alexander J. Smola ( 2002), "Learning with Kernels: Support Vector Machines, Regularization, Optimization, and Beyond (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning)", MIT Press​
  • Christopher Burges (1998), "A Tutorial on Support Vector Machines for Pattern Recognition", Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, Kluwer Publishers
  • Kohonen, T. (Sep 1990), "The self-organizing map", Proceedings of IEEE
  • Rokach, L. (2010). "Ensemble based classifiers". Artificial Intelligence Review
  • Robin Genuer, Jean-Michel Poggi, Christine Tuleau-Malot, "Variable Selection using Random Forests",

More Stories By Roger Barga

Roger Barga, PhD, is Group Program Manager for the CloudML team at Microsoft Corporation where his team is building machine learning as a service on the cloud. He is also a lecturer in the Data Science program at the University of Washington. Roger joined Microsoft in 1997 as a Researcher in the Database Group of Microsoft Research (MSR), where he was involved in a number of systems research projects and product incubation efforts, before joining the Cloud and Enterprise Division of Microsoft in 2011.

More Stories By Avinash Joshi

Avinash Joshi is a Senior Research Analyst in the Innovation and Development group of Mu Sigma Business Solutions. He is currently part of a team that works on generating insights from real-time data streams in financial markets. Avinash joined this team in 2011 and has interests ranging from marketing mix modeling to algorithmic trading.

More Stories By Pravin Venugopal

Pravin Venugopal is a Senior Research Analyst in the Innovation and Development group of Mu Sigma Business Solutions. He is currently part of a team that is developing a low latency platform for algorithmic trading. Pravin received his Masters degree in Computer Science and has been a part of Mu Sigma since 2012. His interests include analyzing real-time financial data streams and algorithmic trading.

Comments (1)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in high-performance, high-efficiency server, storage technology and green computing, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and Embedded Systems worldwide. Supermi...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...