Posts

October 31, 2014

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1:36 PM | Boo! Who’s afraid of availability bias?
Just in time for Halloween: I came across this 2-minute video by Brian Zikmund-Fisher, a professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan, and I took a look because I was curious what he had to say. The video is called “Why aren’t we more scared of measles?” and has the […] The post Boo! Who’s afraid of availability bias? appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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12:03 PM | Higher Homotopy Groups Are Spooky
When I tell people I’m a mathematician, I get a lot of different reactions. Perhaps surprisingly, I mostly get positive responses. Many of them are of the “You go, girl” variety. Some people say,... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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10:54 AM | Tailored political ads threaten democracy
Not sure if you saw this recent New York Times article on the new data-driven political ad machines. Consider for example, the 2013 Virginia Governor campaign won by Terry McAuliffe: …the McAuliffe campaign invested heavily in both the data and the creative sides to ensure it could target key voters with specialized messages. Over the […]
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3:26 AM | Income inequality, social mobility, and sample size
Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has an infographic that contains the following information: quintile of income distribution first second third fourth fifth % of college graduates from poor families 16 17 26 21 20 % of high school dropouts from rich families 16 35 30 5 14 This comes from a paper entitled […]

October 30, 2014

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11:14 PM | label switching in Bayesian mixture models
A referee of our paper on approximating evidence for mixture model with Jeong Eun Lee pointed out the recent paper by Carlos Rodríguez and Stephen Walker on label switching in Bayesian mixture models: deterministic relabelling strategies. Which appeared this year in JCGS and went beyond, below or above my radar. Label switching is an issue […]
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9:02 PM | Scary Mathematics
I thought that because Halloween is tomorrow (for me) a post about some Halloween related mathematics will be fun. 1. Carving Pumpkins. This is one of the traditions for Halloween that I enjoy the most. I was never used to Halloween … Continue reading →
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5:27 PM | Is 2014 Awesome or Not?
Let us call a natural number awesome if it can be represented as ab + ba, where a and b are natural numbers. For example, number 57 is awesome as 57 = 25 + 52. Is 2014 awesome? Share:
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5:06 PM | Financing Tycho’s little piece of heaven
On Chris Graney’s recent guest post I linked to an earlier guest post that he had written about the Danish Renaissance astronomer Tycho Brahe and one of the new readers, that this link attracted, posted a question that I seem … Continue reading →
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3:39 PM | Having lots of letters after your name doesn’t protect you from spouting rubbish
The eloquently excellent Elegant Fowl (aka Pete Langman @elegantfowl) just drew my attention to a piece of high-grade seventeenth-century history of science rubbish on the website of my favourite newspaper The Guardian. In the books section a certain Ian Mortimer … Continue reading →
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1:25 PM | thoughts on a PhD development course, part 1
I am teaching a 1 credit hour PhD development course for industrial and systems engineering students at the University of Wisconsin Madison. I am teaching the course with librarian Ryan Schryver, who is using the course to replace his office hours that students never came to. He found that students were not asking the questions […]
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1:18 PM | Was it really necessary to do a voting experiment on 300,000 people? Maybe 299,999 would’ve been enough? Or 299,998? Or maybe 2000?
There’s been some discussion recently about an experiment done in Montana, New Hampshire, and California, conducted by three young political science professors, in which letters were sent to 300,000 people, in order to (possibly) affect their voting behavior. It appears that the plan was to follow up after the elections and track voter turnout. (Some […] The post Was it really necessary to do a voting experiment on 300,000 people? Maybe 299,999 would’ve been enough? Or […]
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12:41 PM | Maths, Just in Short Words
Mathematical proofs in short words.
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8:09 AM | Relevant statistics for Bayesian model choice [hot off the press!]
Our paper about evaluating statistics used for ABC model choice has just appeared in Series B! It somewhat paradoxical that it comes out just a few days after we submitted our paper on using random forests for Bayesian model choice, thus bypassing the need for selecting those summary statistics by incorporating all statistics available and […]
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12:51 AM | Pope Francis says Evolution and the Big Bang are Compatible with Catholicism
Pope Francis says Evolution and the Big Bang are Compatible with Catholicism You’ve probably heard, the news. Pope Francis has announced that Big Bang cosmology and evolutionary theory are compatible with Catholicism and “may even be required.” This is, of course, wonderful news. It’s evidence that science and religion are not necessarily … Continue reading → The post Pope Francis says Evolution and the Big Bang are Compatible with Catholicism appeared first […]
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12:21 AM | Statistical distribution of incomes in different countries, and a great plot
This post is by Phil Price. This article in the New York Times is pretty good, and the graphics are excellent…especially the interactive graphic halfway down, entitled “American Incomes Are Losing Their Edge, Except at the Top” (try mousing over the gray lines and see what happens). The plot attempts to display the statistical distribution […] The post Statistical distribution of incomes in different countries, and a great plot appeared first on Statistical Modeling, […]

October 29, 2014

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4:55 PM | Making screencasts: The pedagogical framework
I was recently asked to contribute some short videos to a MOOC on Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching on my use of lecture and screencasts as part of the flipped classroom. Here's that video.
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3:50 PM | Sopravvivere alla tempesta
Solo gli inquieti sanno com'è difficile sopravvivere alla tempesta e non poter vivere senza. Emily Brontë via ironiaterminale
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1:46 PM | I love it when I can respond to a question with a single link
Shira writes: This came up from trying to help a colleague of mine at Human Rights Watch. He has several completely observed variables X, and a variable with 29% missing, Y. He wants a histogram (and other descriptive statistics) of a “filled in” Y. He can regress Y on X, and impute missing Y’s from […] The post I love it when I can respond to a question with a single link appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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1:18 PM | I am cold all over…
An email from one of my Master students who sent his problem sheet (taken from Monte Carlo Statistical Methods) late: Bonsoir Professeur Je « suis » votre cours du mercredi dont le formalisme mathématique me fait froid partout Avec beaucoup de difficulté je vous envoie mes exercices du premier chapitre de votre livre. which translates as Good […]
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10:58 AM | Core Econ: a free economics textbook
Today I want to tell you guys about core-econ.org, a free (although you do have to register) textbook my buddy Suresh Naidu is using this semester to teach out of and is also contributing to, along with a bunch of other economists. It’s super cool, and I wish a class like that had been available […]
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2:57 AM | Body-slam on the sister blog
John Ahlquist and Scott Gehlbach nail it. The post Body-slam on the sister blog appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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1:14 AM | Polling and the wisdom of crowds
From The Fix at the Washington Post: Americans think the Republicans will win control of the Senate. See also the New York Times’ Upshot, which references this paper by David Rothschild and Justin Wolfers. In some sense, by asking me who I think is going to win an election you’re looking at not just who […]

October 28, 2014

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11:14 PM | reliable ABC model choice via random forests
After a somewhat prolonged labour (!), we have at last completed our paper on ABC model choice with random forests and submitted it to PNAS for possible publication. While the paper is entirely methodological, the primary domain of application of ABC model choice methods remains population genetics and the diffusion of this new methodology to […]
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4:28 PM | Copernicus and the calendar
A recent blog post on Yovisto repeats a very widespread myth concerning Copernicus, his De revolutionibus and the calendar reform of 1582. This particular myth is so prevalent that I have no illusions about stamping it out but as a … Continue reading →
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3:22 PM | Backward differential equations
This board was created in the common room of the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh by David Siska and Arnaud Lionnet. Arnaud is visiting David in Edinburgh, and they are working on backward stochastic differential equations and stochastic partial differential equations, which are on the interface between probability and statistics.
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1:46 PM | Yes, I’ll help people for free but not like this!
I received the following (unsolicited) email: Dear Sir or Madam, My name is **; I am a graduate student, working on my thesis in **. A vital part of my research is performing a joint cluster analysis of attributional and relational data on **. I have tried to collaborate with the statisticians at ** and […] The post Yes, I’ll help people for free but not like this! appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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12:30 PM | In Which Omar Khayyam Is Grumpy with Euclid
My math history class is currently studying non-Euclidean geometry, which means we’ve studied quite a few “proofs” of Euclid’s fifth postulate, also known as the parallel postulate. I’ve written... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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11:15 AM | The war against taxes (and the unmarried)
The American Enterprise Institute, conservative think-tank, is releasing a report today. It’s called For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America (I will add a link when I can find it online), and there is also an event in DC today from 9:30am til 12:15pm that will be livestreamed. The report takes a look […]
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10:57 AM | Blue Bonnet Bayes
Blue Bonnet™ used to run commercials with the jingle “Everything’s better with Blue Bonnet on it.” Maybe they still do. Perhaps in reaction to knee-jerk antipathy toward Bayesian methods, some statisticians have adopted knee-jerk enthusiasm for Bayesian methods. Everything’s better with Bayesian analysis on it. Bayes makes it better, like a little dab of margarine […]
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5:22 AM | The Elliott-Halberstam conjecture implies the Vinogradov least quadratic nonresidue conjecture
I’ve just uploaded to the arXiv my paper “The Elliott-Halberstam conjecture implies the Vinogradov least quadratic nonresidue conjecture“. As the title suggests, this paper links together the Elliott-Halberstam conjecture from sieve theory with the conjecture of Vinogradov concerning the least quadratic nonresidue of a prime . Vinogradov established the bound and conjectured that for any […]
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