Datasets in Orange Bioinformatics Add-On

As you might know, Orange comes with several basic widget sets pre-installed. These allow you to upload and explore the data, visualize them, learn from them and make predictions. However, there are also some exciting add-ons available for installation. One of these is a bioinformatics add-on, which is our specialty.


Bioinformatics widget set allows you to pursue complex analysis of gene expression by providing access to several external libraries. There are four widgets intended specifically for this – dictyExpress, GEO Data Sets, PIPAx and GenExpress. GEO Data Sets are sourced from NCBI, PIPAx and dictyExpress from two Biolab projects, and finally GenExpress from Genialis. A lot of the data is freely accessible, while you will need a user account for the rest.

Once you open the widget, select the experiments you wish to use for your analysis and view it in the Data Table widget. You can compare these experiments in Data Profiles, visualize them in Volcano Plot, select the most relevant genes in Differential Expression widget and much more.


Three widgets with experiment data libraries.


These databases enable you to start your research just by installing the bioinformatics add-on (Orange → Options → Add-ons…). The great thing is you can easily combine bioinformatics widgets with the basic pre-installed ones. What an easy way to immerse yourself in the exciting world of bioinformatics!

Visualizing Misclassifications

In data mining classification is one of the key methods for making predictions and gaining important information from our data. We would, for example, use classification for predicting which patients are likely to have the disease based on a given set of symptoms.

In Orange an easy way to classify your data is to select several classification widgets (e.g. Naive Bayes, Classification Tree and Linear Regression), compare the prediction quality of each learner with Test Learners and Confusion Matrix and then use the best performing classifier on a new data set for classification. Below we use Iris data set for simplicity, but the same procedure works just as well on all kinds of data sets.

Here we have three confusion matrices for Naive Bayes (top), Classification Tree (middle) and Logistic Regression (bottom).


Three misclassification matrices (Naive Bayes, Classification Tree and Logistic Regression)
Three misclassification matrices (Naive Bayes, Classification Tree and Logistic Regression)


We see that Classification Tree did the best with only 9 misclassified instances. To see which instances were assigned a false class, we select ‘Misclassified’ option in the widget, which highlights misclassifications and feeds them to the Scatter Plot widget. In the graph we thus see the entire data set presented with empty dots and the selected misclassifications with full dots.

Visualization of misclassified instances in scatter plot.
Visualization of misclassified instances in scatter plot.


Feel free to switch between learners in Confusion Matrix to see how the visualization changes for each of them.


Explorative data analysis with Hierarchical Clustering

Today we will write about cluster analysis with Hierarchical Clustering widget. We use a well-known Iris data set, which contains 150 Iris flowers, each belonging to one of the three species (setosa, versicolor and virginica). To an untrained eye the three species are very alike, so how could we best tell them apart? The data set contains measurements of sepal and petal dimensions (width and length) and we assume that these gives rise to interesting clustering. But is this so?

Hierarchical Clustering workflow
Hierarchical Clustering workflow


To find clusters, we feed the data from the File widget to Distances and then into Hierarchical Clustering. The last widget in our workflow visualizes hierarchical clustering dendrogram. In the dendrogram, let us annotate the branches with the corresponding Iris species (Annotation = Iris). We see that not all the clusters are composed of the same actual class – there are some mixed clusters with both virginicas and versicolors.

Selected clusters in Hierarchical Clustering widget
Selected clusters in Hierarchical Clustering widget


To see these clusters, we select them in Hierarchical Clustering widget by clicking on a branch. Selected data will be fed into the output of this widget. Let us inspect the data we have selected by adding Scatter Plot and PCA widgets. If we draw a Data Table directly from Hierarchical Clustering, we see the selected instances and the clusters they belong to. But if we first add the PCA widget, which decomposes the data into principal components, and then connect it to Scatter Plot, we will see the selected instances in the adjusted scatter plot (where principal components are used for x and y-axis).



Select other clusters in Hierarchical Clustering widget to see how the scatter plot visualization changes. This allows for an interesting explorative data analysis through a combination of widgets for unsupervised learning and visualizations.


Learn with Paint Data

Paint Data widget might initially look like a kids’ game, but in combination with other Orange widgets it becomes a very simple and useful tool for conveying statistical concepts, such as k-means, hierarchical clustering and prediction models (like SVM, logistical regression, etc.).

The widget enables you to draw your data on a 2-D plane. You can name the x and y axes, select the number of classes (which are represented by different colors) and then position the points on a graph.

Several painting tools allow you to manage your data set according to your specific needs; brush will paint several data instances at once, while put allows you paint a single data instance. Select a data subset and view it in the Data Table widget or zoom in to see the position of your points up close. Jitter and magnet are converse tools which allow either to spread the instances or draw them closer together.


The data will be represented in a data table with two attributes, where their instances correspond to coordinates in the system. Such data set is great for demonstrating k-means and hierarchical clustering methods. Just like we do below. In the screenshot we see that k-means, with our particular settings, recognizes clusters way better than hierarchical clustering. It returns a score rank, where the best score (the one with the highest value) means the most likely number of clusters. Hierarchical clustering, however, doesn’t even group the right classes together.

Paint Data widget for comparing precision of k-means and hierarchical clustering methods.

Another way to use Paint Data is to observe the performance of classification methods, where we can alter the graph to demonstrate improvement or deterioration of prediction models. By painting the data points we can try to construct the data set, which would be difficult for one but easy for another classifier. Say, why does linear SVM fail on the data set below?

Use Paint Data to compare prediction quality of several classifiers.

Happy painting!

Support vectors output in SVM widget

Did you know that the widget for support vector machines (SVM) classifier can output support vectors? And that you can visualise these in any other Orange widget? In the context of all other data sets, this could provide some extra insight into how this popular classification algorithm works and what it actually does.

Ideally, that is, in the case of linear seperability, support vector machines (SVM) find a hyperplane with the largest margin to any data instance. This margin touches a small number of data instances that are called support vectors.

In Orange 3.0 you can set the SVM classification widget to output also the support vectors and visualize them. We used Iris data set in the File widget and classified data instances with SVM classifier. Then we connected both widgets with Scatterplot and selected Support Vectors in the SVM output channel. This allows us to see support vectors in the Scatterplot widget – they are represented by the bold dots in the graph.

Now feel free to try it with your own data set!


Support vectors output of SVM widget with Iris data set.

Orange workshops around the world

Even though the summer is nigh, we are hardly going to catch a summer break this year. Orange team is busy holding workshops around the world to present the latest widgets and data mining tools to the public. Last week we had a very successful tutorial at [BC]2 in Basel, Switzerland, where Marinka and Blaž presented data fusion. A part of the tutorial was a hands-on workshop with Orange’s new add-on for data fusion. Marinka also got an award for the poster, where data fusion was used to hunt for Dictyostelium bacterial-response genes. This week, we are in Pavia, Italy, also for Matrix Computations in Biomedical Informatics Workshop at AIME 2015, a Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. During the workshop, we are giving an invited talk on learning latent factor models by data fusion and we’ll also show Orange’s data fusion add-on. Thanks to the workshop organizers, Riccardo Bellazzi, Jimeng Sun and Ping Zhang, the workshop program looks great.


Blaž with Riccardo and John in Pavia, Italy

Data Fusion Tutorial at the [BC]^2

We are excited to host a three-hour tutorial on data fusion at the Basel Computational Biology Conference. To this end we have prepared a series of short lectures notes that accompany the recently developed Data Fusion Add-on for Orange.


We design the tutorial for data mining researchers and molecular biologists with interest in large-scale data integration. In the tutorial we focus on collective latent factor models, a popular class of approaches for data fusion. We demonstrate the effectiveness of these approaches on several hands-on case studies from recommendation systems and molecular biology.

This is a high-risk event. I mean, for us, lecturers. Ok, no bricks will probably fall down. But, in the part of the tutorial, this is the first time we are showing Orange’s data fusion add-on. And not just showing: part of the tutorial is a hands-on session.

We would like to acknowledge Biolab members for pushing the widgets through the development pipeline under extreme time constraints. Special thanks to Anze, Ales, Jernej, Andrej, Marko, Aleksandar and all other members of the lab.

This post was contributed by Marinka and Blaz.

Data Fusion Add-on for Orange

Orange is about to get even more exciting! We have created a prototype add-on for data fusion, which will certainly be of interest to many users. Data fusion brings large heterogeneous data sets together to create sensible clusters of related data instances and provides a platform for predictive modelling and recommendation systems.

This widget set can be used either to recommend you the next movie to watch based on your demographic characteristics, movies you gave high scores to, your preferred genre, etc. or to suggest you a set of genes that might be relevant for a particular biological function or process. We envision the add-on to be useful for predictive modeling dealing with large heterogeneous data compendia, such as life sciences.

The prototype set will be available for download next week, but we are happy to give you a sneak peek below.

Data fusion workflow
Data fusion workflow


  1. Movie Ratings widget is pre-set to offer data on movie ratings by users with 706 users and 855 movies (10% of the data selected as a subset).
  2. We add IMDb Actors to filter the data by matching movie ratings with actors.
  3. Then we add the Fusion Graph widget to fuse the data together. Here we have two object types, i.e. users and movies, and one relation between them, i.e. movie ratings.
  4. In Latent Factors we see latent data representation demonstrated by red squares at the side. Let’s select a latent matrix associated with Users as our input for the Data Table.
  5. In Data Table we see the latent data matrix of Users. The algorithm infers low-dimensional user profiles by collective consideration of entire data collection, i.e. movie ratings and actor information. In our scenario the algorithm has  transformed 855 movie titles into 70 movie groupings, i.e. latent components.
Data fusion visualized
Data fusion visualized

Excel files in Orange 3.0

Orange 3.0 version comes with an exciting feature that will simplify reading your data. If the old Orange required conversion from Excel into either tab-delimited or comma-separated files, the new version allows you to open plain .xlsx format data sets in the program. Naturally, the .txt and .csv files are still readable in Orange, so feel free to use data sets in any of the above-mentioned formats.

Since Orange 3.0 is still in the development mode, you will find a smaller selection of widgets available at the moment, but give it a go and see how it works for Excel type data and whether the existing widgets are sufficient for your data analysis. Please find the daily build for OSX here.


Orange 3.0 can read Excel files.

Orange Fridays

You might think “casual Fridays” are the best thing since sliced bread. But what if I were to tell you we have “Orange Fridays” at our lab, where lab members focus solely on debugging Orange software and making improvements to existing features. This is because the new developing version of Orange (3.0) still needs certain widgets to be implemented, such as net explorer, radviz, and survey plot.

But there’s more. We are currently hosting an expert on data fusion from the University of Leuven, prof. dr. Yves Moreau, to discuss new venues and niches for the development of Orange. The big debate is how to scale the program to fit large data sets and make it possible to process such sets in a shorter period of time. If you have any ideas and suggestions, please feel free to share them on our community forum.


prof. dr. Yves Moreau – Prioritization of candidate disease genes and drug—target interactions by genomic data fusion