PhD APIs (Or, How to Get the Benefit of a Data Scientist without Hiring One)

By now, most IT professionals and line-of-business managers “get” APIs. They know that application programming interfaces enable them to quickly and easily add capabilities to their own products and services, and that offering APIs is a terrific opportunity to expand audience and gain mindshare. But now comes a new generation of APIs--ones that are faster, smarter, better. Think of them as graduate-level interfaces—heck, with some of the capabilities these APIs now provide, you could call them the “PhDs of programming.”

ProgrammableWeb has more than 13,000 APIs in its database, a figure that has doubled since 2012 and continues to increase. What’s also increasing is the level of sophistication of APIs.

While many of us are familiar with APIs that add straightforward features and capabilities such as maps, calendars, logins and the like—none of which should be sneezed at--PhD APIs pack the power of a team of doctoral students and researchers. And, just as leveraging a mapping API means you don’t have to have the wherewithal to build a mapping API yourself, making use of PhD-level APIs means you can add highly sophisticated (and often expensive) features that will benefit the business and the business’s customers.

APIs that focus on big data analytics and deep learning fall into the PhD class of interfaces.

For example, AlchemyAPITrack this API, an IBM company, is an artificial intelligence API provider that specializes in making sense of unstructured data—a huge challenge for any company, but especially for a company that doesn’t have the financial resources and/or internal knowledge to build in its own data analytics capabilities.

AlchemyAPI’s API-based technologies can process billions of documents through the use of complex linguistic, statistical and neural network algorithms. This enables companies to make sense of the masses of data they and their customers generate every day, in order to make more measured business decisions and build competitive advantage.

You Can’t Afford Not to Leverage PhD-Level APIs

Few companies today have the means—the PhD-level expertise and skill--to this end, but no company can afford to leave the benefits of data analytics on the table.  (Because their competitors certainly won’t.) What companies can do now is leverage the expertise, experience and skill of an organization whose bread and butter is data analytics through AI and natural language processing.

Think of it this way: Just as leveraging the Google Maps API lets you easily add the power of Google’s mapping technology to your own offerings, leveraging the AlchemyAPI enables companies to quickly, easily and cost-effectively enable applications with the power of machine learning. PhD APIs like AlchemyAPI’s take the proven formula and amp things up a notch—or 20.

ProgrammableWeb has recently developed a whitepaper that digs deeply into the AlchemyAPI platform as a use case for this new class of API, including:

  • An examination of how Alchemy's portfolio of machine learning, natural language processing and linked-data-capable APIs serves as an exemplar of PhD-level APIs
  • A deep dive into the 17 (at press time) APIs that make up the AlchemyAPI platform
  • A sample application and API-consuming source code that mimics the NLP needs of a model company


Indeed, PhD APIs, which are slowly but surely growing in number and availability, are about more than adding widgets and discrete capabilities. But one very important thing remains the same, whether the API is PhD or bachelor’s level: Application programming interfaces enable companies to add capabilities quickly and easily. The great opportunity is that, as the APIs get more sophisticated, the capabilities that can be added to the business become more valuable, increasing the return on investment exponentially.

Debra Donston-Miller Follow me on Google+

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