Posts

March 12, 2015

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8:34 AM | π, Phase Space, and Bouncing Billiard Balls
There are many ways to estimate or calculate π, that number that is irrational, but well-rounded. But perhaps none is as remarkable as that outlined in a 2013 paper by G. Galperin. In this brief article we’ll have a look at the problem, and see the setting, although we’ll leave the interested reader to hunt... Read more »
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12:25 AM | A Strange Thing about the Brier Score
This post was co-written by Brian Knab and Miriam Schoenfield.In the literature on epistemic utility theory, the Brier Score is offered as a paradigmatically reasonable measure of epistemic utility, or epistemic accuracy. We offer a case meant to put pressure on the claim that the Brier score in fact reasonably captures epistemic utility or epistemic accuracy.1. A Simple CaseConsider two people contemplating the origin of the universe.The simple deist is confident that a being exists that […]

March 11, 2015

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11:15 PM | eliminating an important obstacle to creative thinking: statistics…
“We hope and anticipate that banning the NHSTP will have the effect of increasing the quality of submitted manuscripts by liberating authors from the stultified structure of NHSTP thinking thereby eliminating an important obstacle to creative thinking.” About a month ago, David Trafimow and Michael Marks, the current editors of the journal Basic and Applied […]
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4:45 PM | π and The Simpsons
In “The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets”, I documented all the mathematical references hidden in the world’s favourite TV show. Look carefully at various episodes, you will spot everything from Fermat’s last theorem to the Riemann hypothesis, from the P v NP conjecture to Zorn’s lemma. All these references are embedded in the show, because... Read more »
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4:00 PM | Leonardo da Vinci (1) vs. Claude Levi-Strauss; Camus advances
I was really rooting for Kinkade in yesterday‘s contest, but you didn’t oblige me. We didn’t have much in the way of comments yesterday, but the best we had was by Zbicyclist: Kinkade seemed to advance through round 1 because it would be interesting to have him explain the contradictions between his personal life and […] The post Leonardo da Vinci (1) vs. Claude Levi-Strauss; Camus advances appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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3:51 PM | Extremely small probabilities
One objection to modeling adult heights with a normal distribution is that the former is obviously positive but the latter can be negative. However, by this model negative heights are astronomically unlikely. I’ll explain below how one can take “astronomically” literally in this context. A common model says that men’s and women’s heights are normally […]
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3:25 PM | A Scale-Dependent Notion of Dimension for Metric Spaces (Part 1)
Try to understand how dimension can depend on scale
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1:30 PM | Don’t Recite Digits to Celebrate Pi. Recite Its Continued Fraction Instead.
The digits of pi reciting contest is an all-too-common Pi Day event. And as this year is a once-in-a-century confluence of month/day/year with the first few decimal digits of pi, we might be in for... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:28 PM | Tomtown Ramblers killing it
Last night my bluegrass band, the Tomtown Ramblers, was killing it at band practice. Here’s a picture of us learning a song: As for what song it was, probably this one: What we lacked in talent we made up for in numbers. If you’re a musician and want to jam with us, come to Clearwater […]
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1:05 PM | Transformative experiences: a discussion with L. A. Paul and Paul Bloom
A couple years ago we had a discussion of philosopher L. A. Paul’s argument that the decision to have a child cannot be made rationally. Paul recently published her ideas as a book, “Transformative Experience,” which she recently discussed online with psychology researcher Paul Bloom. (I’ll refer to the two people involved as L.A. and […] The post Transformative experiences: a discussion with L. A. Paul and Paul Bloom appeared first on Statistical Modeling, […]
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12:07 PM | Atavachron
In the Star Trek episode “All Our Yesterdays” the people of the planet Sarpeidon have escaped into their past because their sun is about to become a supernova. They did this via a time machine called the Atavachron. One detail of the episode has stuck with me since I first saw it many years ago: although people can go back […]
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7:55 AM | Cédric Villani’s Birth of a Theorem is Radio 4 Book of the Week
Birth of a Theorem, the autobiographical book by French mathematician and (spoiler) Fields Medallist Cédric Villani, is Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 this week, read by non-French non-mathematician Julian Rhind-Tutt. Villani also appeared on discussion show Start the Week on Monday, talking about ‘the mathematical mind’ along with mathematician Vicky Neale; Morgan... Read more »

March 10, 2015

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11:15 PM | Edmond Malinvaud (1923-2015)
The statistician, econometrician, macro- and micro-economist, Edmond Malinvaud died on Saturday, March 7. He had been director of my alma mater ENSAE (1962–1966), directeur de la Prévision at the Finance Department (1972–1974), director of INSEE (1974–1987), and Professeur at Collège de France (1988–1993). While primarily an economist, with his theories of disequilibrium and unemployment, reflected […]
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10:34 PM | Existentialism II, like Colonel Kurtz
Last night I posted a strange story about a gecko and a moth. It occurred to me today that this is a very Kurtzian story, if we take the Brando interpretation of Mistah Kurtz (he dead) in Apocalypse Now! (the Redux version is one of my favorite movies, I guess). In the movie Harrison Ford … Continue reading Existentialism II, like Colonel Kurtz →
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7:37 PM | “Voices from everywhere saying gently: This we praise. This we don’t.”
One of America’s leading political columnists, David Brooks, has just come out with a column called “The Cost of Relativism” about the growing chasm between college-educated America and those who write for major newspapers. It’s got a definitive collection of data about this divide. Just kidding about the “definitive collection of data.” Anyway, to continue: […] The post “Voices from everywhere saying gently: This we praise. This we […]
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6:15 PM | Why The Imitation Game is a disaster for historians.
I made the mistake, as a former professional historian of logic and meta-mathematics and, as a consequence, an amateur historian of the computer, of going to the cinema to watch the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game. I knew that … Continue reading →
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4:00 PM | Thomas Kinkade vs. Albert Camus (1); Cervantes advances
Yesterday‘s winner is Cervantes, for the simple reason that nobody gave any good reasons to invite Thoreau. Ooooh, today’s contest is a toughie. House on fire or existential struggle? Either one would have a lot to say, but only one of them has a “TM” after his name. Give it your best shot. P.S. As […] The post Thomas Kinkade vs. Albert Camus (1); Cervantes advances appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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1:01 PM | The illusion of the illusion of control
Yesterday we discussed the sad and disturbing career of psychology researcher Ellen Langer, who was was famous (to me) for her 1975 article on the illusion of control, “defined as an expectancy of a personal success probability inappropriately higher than the objective probability would warrant.” And then, in her own research, she herself became subject […] The post The illusion of the illusion of control appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social […]
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12:07 PM | Illegitimate international debt
How do you declare international debt illegitimate? When is debt so odious that the taxpayers of a government have no obligation to pay it back? This is a huge, important question. It’s a question currently plaguing Argentina and Greece, for example. Individuals in both countries have explained to me that the debt was taken on […]

March 09, 2015

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11:15 PM | ABC of simulation estimation with auxiliary statistics
“In the ABC literature, an estimator that uses a general kernel is known as a noisy ABC estimator.” Another arXival relating M-estimation econometrics techniques with ABC. Written by Jean-Jacques Forneron and Serena Ng from the Department of Economics at Columbia University, the paper tries to draw links between indirect inference and ABC, following the tracks […]
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10:34 PM | Existentialism
Spring has begun in Israel. Yesterday was the first day where you could say that the weather is characteristically spring; and today (as well tomorrow) we are expected for a daytime heatwave and a nighttime cold weather (e.g. Beer-Sheva is expecting a whopping 31 degrees centigrade during the day, and 13 during the night). This … Continue reading Existentialism →
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7:05 PM | Why isn’t everything normally distributed?
Adult heights follow a Gaussian, a.k.a. normal, distribution [1]. The usual explanation is that many factors go into determining one’s height, and the net effect of many separate causes is approximately normal because of the central limit theorem. If that’s the case, why aren’t more phenomena normally distributed? Someone asked me this morning specifically about […]
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7:02 PM | operations research improves school choice in Boston
Many cities allow families to choose elementary schools to address growing inequities in school instruction and performance. School choice lets families give a rank ordering of their preferred schools, and a lottery ultimately assigns students to schools. The result is that many students have to travel a long way to school, crazy bus schedules, and […]
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4:00 PM | Miguel de Cervantes (2) vs. Henry David Thoreau (3); Eddy advances
Yesterday’s best argument came from Zbicyclist: I suspect the actual Mohammad would be regarded as a heretic by at least some branches is Islam. . . . I’d rather be in an audience with a bunch of radical Christian Scientists than a bunch of radical Islamists. Good point. Controversy’s ok, but I don’t think I […] The post Miguel de Cervantes (2) vs. Henry David Thoreau (3); Eddy advances appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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1:20 PM | Ellen Langer: expert on, and victim of, the illusion of control
It all started when Lee Sechrest pointed me to this post by James Coyne. Sechrest wrote: I know you have enough to do, and if you do not get to this…well, no problems. It is a blog by Jim Coyne taking apart a “classic” study in social psychology, originally published in the early ’70s. Implausible […] The post Ellen Langer: expert on, and victim of, the illusion of control appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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1:00 PM | GTD for academics: The mindset and the precepts
If we academic types were able to get big things done, like our dissertations, then why are there so many simpler, smaller things that don't get done? And why does it seem we are out of control of the things we have to get done? In this first post in a series on the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy for academics, we examine two important mistakes many academics make in dealing with time and projects.
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12:25 PM | Professor position at ENSAE, on the Paris Saclay campus
There is an opening at the Statistics School ENSAE for a Statistics associate or full professor position, starting on September 2015. Currently located on the South-West boundary of Paris, the school is soon to move to the mega-campus of Paris Saclay, near École Polytechnique, along with a dozen other schools. See this description of the […]
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7:21 AM | HITs and the Erlangen Program
Bishop sets and Klein geometries are both quotient constructions, and can both be realized by HITs, in contrast to the univalence/extensionality based approach common in set theory.
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3:14 AM | There’s no sick burn like a sick barista burn
I bought today’s State Journal at Victor Allen’s. Barista:  Newspaper.  Victor Allen’s. Me:  What? Barista:  We were talking about how maybe we could draw a younger, more college-age crowd if we got people to post that they were here on Instagram, so like if you bought a newspaper you’d take a picture and caption it […]

March 08, 2015

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11:25 PM | More pie than plate, Dane County edition
One chapter of How Not To Be Wrong, called “More Pie Than Plate” (excerpted in Slate here) is about the perils you are subject to when you talk about percentages of numbers (like “net new jobs”) that may be negative. Various people, since the book came out, have complained that How Not To Be Wrong is a leftist tract, […]
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