April 23, 2014

10:14 PM | controlled thermodynamic integral for Bayesian model comparison
Chris Oates, Theodore Papamarkou, and Mark Girolami (all from the University of Warwick) just arXived a paper on a new form of thermodynamic integration for computing marginal likelihoods. (I had actually discussed this paper with the authors on a few occasions when visiting Warwick.) The other name of thermodynamic integration is path sampling (Gelman and […]
6:24 PM | Distribution of a range
Suppose you’re drawing random samples uniformly from some interval. How likely are you to see a new value outside the range of values you’ve already seen? The problem is more interesting when the interval is unknown. You may be trying…Read more ›
4:23 PM | Return on investment in faculty rarely captured by university CFOs
“Mr. President, We are not employees of the university. We are the university.” With these words, Isidore Rabi, a distinguished faculty member at Columbia University, interrupted Dwight Eisenhower, who had started off a speech by addressing the faculty as “employees … Continue reading →
1:17 PM | Thinking of doing a list experiment? Here’s a list of reasons why you should think again
Someone wrote in: We are about to conduct a voting list experiment. We came across your comment recommending that each item be removed from the list. Would greatly appreciate it if you take a few minutes to spell out your recommendation in a little more detail. In particular: (a) Why are you “uneasy” about list […]The post Thinking of doing a list experiment? Here’s a list of reasons why you should think again appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, […]
12:14 PM | skyndimynd frá Íslandi (#2)
Filed under: Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel Tagged: AISTATS 2014, ashes, Dyrhólaey, Iceland, Vik
10:58 AM | Interview with a middle school math teacher on the Common Core
Today’s post is an email interview with Fawn Nguyen, who teaches math at Mesa Union Junior High in southern California. Fawn is on the leadership team for UCSB Mathematics Project that provides professional development for teachers in the Tri-County area. She is a co-founder of the Thousand Oaks Math Teachers’ Circle. In an effort to share and learn from other math teachers, Fawn blogs at Finding […]
9:34 AM | Was Will a Copernican?
The Will of the title is England’s most notorious playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, who was supposedly born 450 years ago today. The question is the central motivation for the new book by Canadian popular science writer, Dan Falk, The … Continue reading →
8:08 AM | A short questionnaire regarding the subjective assessment of evidence
E. J. Wagenmakers writes: Remember I briefly talked to you about the subjective assessment of evidence? Together with Richard Morey and myself, Annelies Bartlema created a short questionnaire that can be done online. There are five scenarios and it does not take more than 5 minutes to complete. So far we have collected responses from […]The post A short questionnaire regarding the subjective assessment of evidence appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social […]

April 22, 2014

10:14 PM | AISTATS 2014 (day #1)
First day at AISTATS 2014! After three Icelandic vacations days driving (a lot) and hinkg (too little) around South- and West-Iceland, I joined close to 300 attendees for this edition of the AISTATS conference series. I was quite happy to be there, if only because I had missed the conference last year (in Phoenix) and […]
6:38 PM | How Not To Be Wrong Table of Contents
The good people of Penguin House have cleared me to post the table of contents of How Not To Be Wrong!  And here it is:   Introduction: When Am I Going To Use This? Part I: LINEARITY 1. Less Like Sweden 2. Straight Locally, Curved Globally 3. Everyone is Obese 4. How Much is That […]
1:01 PM | Ticket to Baaaaarf
A link from the comments here took me to the wonderfully named Barfblog and a report by Don Schaffner on some reporting. First, the background: A university in England issued a press release saying that “Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is […]The post Ticket to Baaaaarf appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:00 PM | Why aren’t math professors sociopaths?
Great open from Chris Hayes: Imagine you’re a scientist in some sci-fi alternate universe, and you’ve been charged with creating a boot camp that will reliably turn normal but ambitious people into broken sociopaths more or less willing to do anything. There are two main traits you’d want to cultivate in your recruits. The first […]
12:20 PM | New Twitter account: UnitFact
I’ve started a new Twitter account @UnitFact for tweets about units of measurement, constants, dimensional analysis, etc.
11:21 AM | Kepler e la ricerca degli esopianeti in classe
Alcuni giorni fa, la missione Kepler ha annunciato la scoperta di un nuovo pianeta extrasolare, Kepler-186f, che è risultato roccioso e molto simile alla Terra non solo per dimensioni, ma anche per posizione e distanza dalla stella intorno cui ruota, Kepler-186, una nana rossa di classe M1 che si trova a circa 500 anni luce dal nostro pianeta. L'annuncio è stato accompagnato anche da un articolo su Science, che però è stato anche reso disponibile dalla Nasa in […]
11:00 AM | A simple mathematical model of congressional geriatric penis pumps
This is a guest post written by Stephanie Yang and reposted from her blog. Stephanie and I went to graduate school at Harvard together. She is now a quantitative analyst living in New York City, and will be joining the data science team at Foursquare next month. Last week’s hysterical report by the Daily Show’s Samantha Bee […]
3:05 AM | Publishers Weekly on HNTBW
Another nice review of How Not To Be Wrong — starred, even — from Publishers Weekly: In this wry, accessible, and entertaining exploration of everyday math, Ellenberg, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, shows readers how “knowing mathematics is like wearing a pair of X-ray specs” that reveal the hidden structure of […]

April 21, 2014

10:14 PM | skyndimynd frá Íslandi
Filed under: Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel Tagged: AISTATS 2014
6:33 PM | Indifference graphs and their construction
I just added a new article to Wikipedia on indifference graphs (also known as unit interval graphs or proper interval graphs): the graphs formed from sets of points on the real line by connecting every two points whose distance is less than one.There are many papers on algorithms for going from the graph to a geometric representation in linear time. The following method for the reverse problem, going from the set of points (or equivalently unit intervals) to its graph must be known, possibly in […]
6:02 PM | Stan Model of the Week: Hierarchical Modeling of Supernovas
The Stan Model of the Week showcases research using Stan to push the limits of applied statistics.  If you have a model that you would like to submit for a future post then send us an email. Our inaugural post comes from Nathan Sanders, a graduate student finishing up his thesis on astrophysics at Harvard. […]The post Stan Model of the Week: Hierarchical Modeling of Supernovas appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
3:19 PM | Univalent Foundations of Mathematics
In an effort to make mathematics more computable, a consortium of today's greatest mathematicians have laid out new foundations. Amazingly, they all lie upon one single axiom, called univalence. The goal of this axiom is to make formal mathematics more similar to informal mathematics. But it also has an unforeseen and mesmerizing consequences.
2:54 PM | Ticket to Baaaath
Ooooooh, I never ever thought I’d have a legitimate excuse to tell this story, and now I do! The story took place many years ago, but first I have to tell you what made me think of it: Rasmus Bååth posted the following comment last month: On airplane tickets a Swedish “å” is written as […]The post Ticket to Baaaath appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:00 PM | On deck this week
Mon: Ticket to Baaaath Tues: Ticket to Baaaaarf Wed: Thinking of doing a list experiment? Here’s a list of reasons why you should think again Thurs: An open site for researchers to post and share papers Fri: Questions about “Too Good to Be True” Sat: Sleazy sock puppet can’t stop spamming our discussion of compressed […]The post On deck this week appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
12:30 PM | What’s the Deal with Euclid’s Fourth Postulate?
In February, I wrote about Euclid’s parallel postulate, the black sheep of the big, happy family of definitions, postulates, and axioms that make up the foundations of Euclidean geometry. I... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
12:00 PM | Reader survey: in what small way are you weird?
Lots of us are weird in big, noticeable ways, that’s for sure.  But I was looking the other day at a series of photographs of people’s fridges and I realized, you know what’s weird about me?  In a small, barely noticeable way?  I don’t have any beer in my fridge.  I never do.  In fact, […]
11:00 AM | Elementary vs Foundational
Euclid’s proof that there are infinitely many primes is simple and ancient. This proof is given early in any course on number theory, and even then most students would have seen it before taking such a course. There are also…Read more ›
10:17 AM | Guest rant about rude kids
Today’s guest post was written by Amie, who describes herself as a mom of a 9 and a 14-year-old, mathematician, and bigmouth. Time for a rant. I’ll preface this by saying that while my kids are creative, beautiful souls, so are many (perhaps all) children I’ve met, and it would be the height of arrogance to […]
3:45 AM | Cross-validation in finance, psychology, and political science
A large chunk of machine learning (although not all of it) is concerned with predictive modeling, usually in the form of designing an algorithm that takes in some data set and returns an algorithm (or sometimes, a description of an algorithm) for making predictions based on future data. In terminology more friendly to the philosophy […]

Bailey, D., Borwein, J., de Prado, M.L. & Zhu, Q. (2014). Pseudo-Mathematics and Financial Charlatanism: The Effects of Backtest Overfitting on Out-of-Sample Performance, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 61 (5) 458. DOI:


April 20, 2014

11:16 PM | OKCathy
This week’s Aunt Pythia column features Cathy O’Neil’s take on what questions online daters ought to have to answer in their profiles: How sexual are you? (super important question) How much fun are you? (people are surprisingly honest when asked this) How awesome do you smell? (might need to invent technology for this one) What bothers […]
10:14 PM | a day for comments
As I was flying over Skye (with [maybe] a first if hazy perspective on the Cuillin ridge!) to Iceland, three long sets of replies to some of my posts appeared on the ‘Og: Dan Simpson replied to my comments of last Tuesday about his PC  construction; Arnaud Doucet precised some issues about his adaptive subsampling […]
6:30 PM | Easter and Eggs
First of all I think ‘Happy Easter!!’ will be ok for now. Since I was little I remember doing a lot of drawings with eggs in this period of the year. The problem was that I never did a perfect … Continue reading →
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