February 09, 2015

5:00 PM | Marcel Duchamp (4) vs. Thomas Kinkade
The winner of yesterday‘s bout is Thoreau. The best pro-Thoreau argument came from JRC: “This one breaks down to to whose narrative on loneliness and solitude is more interesting: the guy who removed himself from society, or the guy forcibly removed from it. Lifetime probability of incarceration and homelessness seems in the same ballpark, so […] The post Marcel Duchamp (4) vs. Thomas Kinkade appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
3:00 PM | Discussion with Steven Pinker connecting cognitive psychology research to the difficulties of writing
Following up on my discussion of Steven Pinker’s writing advice, Pinker and I had an email exchange that cleared up some issues and raised some new ones. In particular, Pinker made a connection between the difficulty of writing and some research findings in cognitive psychology. I think this connection is really cool—I’ve been thinking and […] The post Discussion with Steven Pinker connecting cognitive psychology research to the difficulties of writing appeared first on […]
2:42 PM | snowblowing is NP-complete
The recent winter storm left a lot of snow on my driveway. A lot. My driveway is the perfectly place for huge snowdrifts to form. A tweet of my shoveling resulted in the discovery of The Snowblower Problem  by Esther M. Arkin, Michael A. Bender, Joseph S. B. Mitchell, and Valentin Polishchuk (HT @fbahr) Snow piles next to my driveway from […]
2:25 PM | Where does all that settlement money go?
In the Alternative Banking meeting yesterday we kicked things off with a great visit from Katya Cohen, author of a new book called The American Spellbound, where she describes the fictional account of a women working in a large bank and learning to fit in with the mindset of greed combined with a superhero complex. […]
2:00 PM | On deck this week
Mon: Discussion with Steven Pinker connecting cognitive psychology research to the difficulties of writing Marcel Duchamp (4) vs. Thomas Kinkade Tues: In search of the elusive loop of plagiarism Albert Camus (1) vs. Bruno Latour Wed: When the evidence is unclear Leonardo da Vinci (1) vs. The guy who did Piss Christ Thurs: Two Unrecognized […] The post On deck this week appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:18 PM | MissData 2015 in Rennes [June 18-19]
This (early) summer, a conference on missing data will be organised in Rennes, Brittany, with the support of the French Statistical Society [SFDS]. (Check the website if interested, Rennes is a mere two hours from Paris by fast train.)Filed under: R, Statistics, Travel, University life Tagged: Brittany, conference, France, missing data, Rennes, Roderick Little, TGV

February 08, 2015

11:15 PM | comments on reflections
I just arXived my comments about A. Ronald Gallant’s “Reflections on the Probability Space Induced by Moment Conditions with Implications for Bayesian Inference”, capitalising on the three posts I wrote around the discussion talk I gave at the 6th French Econometrics conference last year. Nothing new there, except that I may get a response from […]
10:56 PM | Black holes and revelations: the seeds of the galaxies
about #blackhole #astronomy #arXiv #abstract The centre of the Milky Way - via NasaIn this paper we present a new scenario where massive Primordial Black Holes (PBH) are produced from the collapse of large curvature perturbations generated during a mild waterfall phase of hybrid inflation. We determine the values of the inflaton potential parameters leading to a PBH mass spectrum peaking on planetary-like masses at matter-radiation equality and producing abundances comparable to those of Dark […]
9:09 PM | Due parole in libertà
Ieri è stata inaugurata la mostra Siamo tutti Charlie al museo WOW di Milano. Costituita dalle vignette di un nutrito gruppo di fumettisti (alcune di queste erano parte del tristemente famoso volume del Corriere), è stata anticipata da un incontro/dibattito sulla satira. Introdotto dal direttore del museo, Luigi Bona, è di fatto diventato una sorta di non conferenza realizzata a braccio: laddove, infatti, nelle non conferenze classiche (se può esserci qualcosa di […]
5:30 PM | Tidbit: Radio Waves Bouncing Off of an F-15
Tidbit: Radio Waves Bouncing Off of an F-15 I’m afraid I don’t have time to write very much this week. So instead, I leave you with a little hint of the sort of thing I’m thinking about. The above picture is from a paper I just read. It … Continue reading → The post Tidbit: Radio Waves Bouncing Off of an F-15 appeared first on The Physics Mill.
5:00 PM | Henry David Thoreau (3) vs. Charles Manson
I’m sorry to announce that the winner from yesterday is Miguel de Cervantes. I was really really rooting for Joan Crawford on this one. For one thing, we’d have a packed house. I just think she’d be the best. Sure, Cervantes was a genius yah yah yah, and if the question were who to invite […] The post Henry David Thoreau (3) vs. Charles Manson appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
2:15 PM | Sorry, but I’m with Richard Ford on this one
I just read the new Colson Whitehead book, the one where he plays poker? I like it at first, he had some great bits, but then it got boring. And, really, is there any gimmick less appealing, at this point, than “author/journalist goes and tries his luck at the World Series of Poker”? I don’t […] The post Sorry, but I’m with Richard Ford on this one appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
12:22 PM | Turing round-up, February 2015
I just want to be done with Alan Turing posts, but stuff keeps happening. Here’s a very brief round-up of some recent Turing news: There’s a petition to Pardon all convicted gay men, not just Alan Turing. Sign it or don’t or write 12,000 words hemming and hawing about it all. Up to you. This is... Read more »
12:26 AM | Soldiers and horses
From a discussion at a LinkedIn group on mathematics education: Q: You’re the general of an army. You have many soldiers and many horses. Each soldier needs one horse. What’s the fastest, most efficient way to see if the # of soldiers = the # of horses? A: Tell the soldiers that the war is […]

February 07, 2015

11:57 PM | Strenner: Pseudo-Anosov mapping classes not arising from Penner’s construction
Balazs Strenner, a Ph.D. student of Richard Kent graduating this year, gave a beautiful talk yesterday in our geometry/topology seminar about his recent paper with Hyunshik Shin.  (He’s at the Institute next year but if you’re looking for a postdoc after that…!) A long time ago, Robert Penner showed how to produce a whole semigroup […]
11:15 PM | Le Monde puzzle [#899]
An arithmetics Le Monde mathematical puzzle: For which n’s are the averages of the first n squared integers integers? Among those, which ones are perfect squares? An easy R code, for instance which produces 333 values which are made of all odd integers that are not multiple of 3. (I could have guessed the exclusion […]
8:07 PM | 254A, Notes 5: Bounding exponential sums and the zeta function
We return to the study of the Riemann zeta function , focusing now on the task of upper bounding the size of this function within the critical strip; as seen in Exercise 43 of Notes 2, such upper bounds can lead to zero-free regions for , which in turn lead to improved estimates for the […]
6:59 PM | Ashley Zelinskie
I start to enjoy looking for artists that embrace mathematics and show us wonderful mathematical properties through their work. This time I have Ashley Zelinskie. She is an artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work blurs the lines between art and technology, and spans a variety of media from sculpture to computer programs. After receiving a degree […]
5:00 PM | Miguel de Cervantes (2) vs. Joan Crawford
The winner from yesterday is Mohammad. The strongest case for Ed McMahon came from Chris in comments: “Taking the guest out for drinks after the seminar would also be easier for McMahon than Mohammed.” And that’s not a bad argument. But as Nick put it, if there’s a translator (which I’m assuming there is), McMahon […] The post Miguel de Cervantes (2) vs. Joan Crawford appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
2:18 PM | How a clever analysis of health survey data became transformed into bogus feel-good medical advice
Jonathan Falk sends a message with the heading, “Garden of forking paths, p value abuse, questionable causality, you name it,” this link to an article in JAMA Internal Medicine, and the following remarks: Unfortunately, I can only see the first page of this article, but it seems to contain all the usual suspects. (a) Forking […] The post How a clever analysis of health survey data became transformed into bogus feel-good medical advice appeared first on Statistical Modeling, […]
1:42 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Holy shit, guys, it’s already fucking February, and Aunt Pythia isn’t ready for Spring at all. Spring is when things get frighteningly beautiful and distracting and the cycle of nature breaks our hearts and blah blah blah and a certain something is due, and Aunt Pythia would rather it stay mid-January for a while yet, […]
7:00 AM | Rogers’ paradox: Why cheap social learning doesn’t raise mean fitness
It’s Friday night, you’re lonely, you’re desperate and you’ve decided to do the obvious—browse Amazon for a good book to read—when, suddenly, you’re told that you’ve won one for free. Companionship at last! But, as you look at the terms and conditions, you realize that you’re only given a few options to choose from. You […]

Rogers, A. (1988). Does biology constrain culture?, American Anthropologist, 90 819-831. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1988.90.4.02a00030


February 06, 2015

11:15 PM | 41ièmes Foulées de Malakoff [5k, 7⁰C, 18:40, 40th & 2nd V2]
[Warning: post of limited interest to most, about a local race I ran for another year!] Once more, I managed to run my annual 5k in Malakof. And once again being (barely) there on the day of the race. Having landed a few hours earlier from Birmingham. Due to traffic and road closures, I arrived […]
6:18 PM | the ultimate argument
In a tribune published on February 4 in Le Monde [under the vote-fishing argument that the National Front is not a threat for democracy], the former minister [and convicted member of fascist groups in the 1960’s] Gérard Longuet wrote this unforgettable sentence about the former and current heads of the National Front: “Sa fille, elle, […]
5:00 PM | Mohammad (2) vs. Ed McMahon
For yesterday’s contest, I gotta go with Mary Baker Eddy. James Joyce got off some memorable lines in his time but Eddy seems like she’d be a better speaker, especially if we could turn the conversation toward evidence-based medicine. And now we have a battle between two great communicators. It’s too bad these guys have […] The post Mohammad (2) vs. Ed McMahon appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
4:53 PM | it’s possible that we have both record levels of immunization & record levels of vulnerability to infectious disease: why social networks matter
My recent blog post on eradicating polio through vaccination ends with this: Part of the reason why vaccination is challenging is because social networks play a critical role in disease transmission. Even if enough people have been vaccinated in aggregate to obtain herd immunity in theory, it may not be enough if there are hot […]
3:35 PM | In veste di agnello
Negli ultimi anni la definizione di noir è, soprattutto in Italia, andata sfumando, incorporando spesso il giallo d'azione (l'hard boiled) o il poliziesco (in particolare quello sui delitti seriali), eppure il noir classico è quello alla Patricia Highsmith, ritenuta la più abile (se non la più importante) rappresentante del genere, o questo In veste di agnello di Celia Dale.Il romanzo racconta delle vicissitudini di due ex-carcerate che truffano i pensionati, […]
2:01 PM | Statistical analysis recapitulates the development of statistical methods
There’s a saying in biology that the development of the organism recapitulates the development of the species: thus in utero each of us starts as a single-celled creature and then develops into an embryo that successively looks like a simple organism, then like a fish, an amphibian, etc., until we reach our human form in […] The post Statistical analysis recapitulates the development of statistical methods appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
6:35 AM | Where do you get your BibTeX data?
Formatting a couple hundred references for a proposal led me to wonder: If you find yourself wanting to look up the BibTeX data for a paper, where do you go? And how much do you have to edit it yourself afterwards?The three most obvious choices for me are DBLP, ACM Digital Library, or MathSciNet.There used to be a project to maintain a collective file "geom.bib" with all the references that any computational geometer would ever use. I still have about 18 copies of it on my computer (presumably […]

February 05, 2015

11:15 PM | Bayesian computation: fore and aft
With my friends Peter Green (Bristol), Krzysztof Łatuszyński (Warwick) and Marcello Pereyra (Bristol), we just arXived the first version of “Bayesian computation: a perspective on the current state, and sampling backwards and forwards”, which first title was the title of this post. This is a survey of our own perspective on Bayesian computation, from what […]
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