I got an email from a prospective user of our software the other day that really set me back. Paraphrasing a bit here, it was “Are there any unique features of your PLS algorithm/diagnostics?” The problem with questions like this one is that I never know where to start. But here is what I wrote.
As for “unique features of your pls algorithm,” well, there are numerous ways to calculate a PLS model, but they all pretty much arrive at the same result (which is good). If you’d like to learn more about PLS algorithms and their accuracy, I suggest you have a look at a series of blog posts I did on the subject. See:
Accuracy of PLS Algorithms
Re-orthogonalization of PLS Algorithms
One Last Time on Accuracy of PLS Algorithms
Speed of PLS Algorithms
As to diagnostics, most of the packages use pretty much the same diagnostics, though sometimes they call them by different names. Usually there is a sample distance metric (e.g. T2) and some sort of residual (e.g. Q).
But maybe what you are really looking for is what makes our software unique, rather than our specific PLS algorithm. We have two major packages for chemometrics. The first is our MATLAB-based PLS_Toolbox, the second is our stand-alone product Solo, which is essentially the compiled version of PLS_Toolbox. The two packages provide identical interfaces and share the same model and data formats. The advantage of PLS_Toolbox is that, because it works within the MATLAB environment, it can be run from the command line and functions from it can be incorporated into other analyses. The advantage of Solo is that you don’t have to have MATLAB.
So right off the bat, a unique feature of our software is that there are completely compatible solutions for working with or without MATLAB. And both of these solutions are available on all platforms, including Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. That is unique.
PLS_Toolbox and Solo have the widest available array of analysis methods. This includes PLS and PCA of course, but also PCR, MLR, MCR, PARAFAC, N-PLS, PLS-DA, SIMCA, SVM, KNN, CLS, LWR, MPCA, Cluster Analysis and Batch Maturity. Plus they have a large number of auxiliary tools for Instrument Standardization, Data Transformation, Dynamic Modeling, Sample Selection, Trend Analysis, Correlation Spectroscopy and Design of Experiments. And numerous tools for variable selection including Genetic Algortihm, iPLS and Stepwise MLR. Plus diagnostic methods such as VIP and Selectivity Ratio. The collection of all of these analysis methods and auxiliary functions with one interface is unique.
PLS_Toolbox and Solo can be extended for use with Multivariate Images with MIA_Toolbox and Solo+MIA. The ability to apply such a wide array of multivariate analysis techniques to images is unique. There is also an add-on for the patented Extended Multiplicative Scatter Correction, EMSC_Toolbox. If not completely unique, this method for preprocessing data from highly scattering samples is not widely available.
For on-line application there is our Solo_Predictor and Model_Exporter. Solo_Predictor can be used with any model generated by PLS_Toolbox/Solo and can communicate via TCP/IP sockets, ActiveX, .NET, timed action or wait-for-file. Model_Exporter translates PLS_Toolbox/Solo models into mathematical formulas that can be compiled into other languages. Model_Exporter’s XML output can be parsed for execution in .NET (C#). Additional output formats include MATLAB .m file (compatible with older versions of MATLAB and OCTAVE, plus LabView, Symbion and Tcl). This wide array of on-line options is unique.
Beyond that, PLS_Toolbox and Solo are also extremely flexible tools and include the widest array of data preprocessing methods with user-specified ordering, ability to add user-specified method, and customizable favorites settings.
And finally, price. PLS_Toolbox is only $1395 for industrial users, $395 for academic. Solo is $2195/$695. The price/performance ratio of these products is most certainly unique.
If you have any questions about the specific functionality of our software, please write me.