Posts

February 07, 2015

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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 […]
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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 […]
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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 […]
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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.
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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, […]
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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, […]
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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

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February 06, 2015

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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 […]
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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, […]
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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.
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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 […]
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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, […]
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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.
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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

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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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9:53 PM | Another reason natural logarithms are natural
In mathematics, log means natural logarithm by default; the burden of explanation is on anyone taking logarithms to a different base. I elaborate on this a little here. Looking through Andrew Gelman and Jennifer Hill’s regression book, I noticed a justification for natural logarithms I hadn’t thought about before. We prefer natural logs (that is, logarithms […]
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5:00 PM | James Joyce (3) vs. Mary Baker Eddy
Yesterday’s winner will come as no surprise to you. My favorite argument in favor of L. Ron Hubbard came from Jameson: “We know that Hubbard has what it takes in terms of cheating things. Specifically, he’d be willing to sell his own religion down the river (ahem) for an extra hour of life. Thus, we […] The post James Joyce (3) vs. Mary Baker Eddy appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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3:38 PM | eradicating polio through vaccination and with analytics
The most recent issue of Interfaces (Jan-Feb 2015, 45(1)) has an article about eradicating polio published by Kimberly M. Thompson, Radboud J. Duintjer Tebbens, Mark A. Pallansch, Steven G.F. Wassilak, and Stephen L. Cochi from Kid Risk, Inc., and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This paper develops and applies a few analytics models […]
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2:04 PM | Why I keep talking about “generalizing from sample to population”
Someone publishes some claim, some statistical comparison with “p less than .05″ attached to it. My response is: OK, you see this pattern in the sample. Do you think it holds in the population? Why do I ask this? Why don’t I ask the more standard question: Do you really think this result is statistically […] The post Why I keep talking about “generalizing from sample to population” appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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2:00 PM | The Media and the Genius Myth
I’ve been thinking a lot about the genius myth, the notion that in order to be a successful in certain disciplines, you need to have a special innate talent that can’t be learned. Last... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:10 PM | The Metaphysician’s Nightmare
I had at one time a very bad fever of which I almost died. In my fever I had a long consistent delirium. I dreamt that I was in Hell, and that Hell is a place full of all those happenings that are improbable but not impossible. The effects of this are curious. Some of […]
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12:24 PM | I Love you Mathbabe, but 529 Plans are Awesome.
This is a guest post by FogOfWar, who disagrees with me about 529 plans and my plan to make paying for college harder. I’m catching up on the 529 kerfuffle. First observation: this made a massively outsized splash in public perception compared to what one would expect from a technical tax provision, which (more on […]
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4:55 AM | Seeing edge effects in tumour histology
Some of the hardest parts of working towards the ideal of a theorist, at least for me, are: (1) making sure that I engage with problems that can be made interesting to the new domain I enter and not just me; (2) engaging with these problems in a way and using tools that can be […]

Kaznatcheev, A., Scott, J.G. & Basanta, D. (2015). Edge effects in game theoretic dynamics of spatially structured tumours., arXiv, Other:

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3:15 AM | Is head weight a constant fraction of body weight?
Nurses are among those most frequently injured on the job, says Daniel Zwerdling of NPR (in a long piece that’s worth reading). One of the most common sources of such injuries is lifting patients, which gets worse as we Americans … Continue reading →

February 04, 2015

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11:15 PM | relabelling mixtures (#2)
Following the previous post, I went and had  a (long) look at Puolamäki and Kaski’s paper. I must acknowledge that, despite having several runs through the paper, I still have trouble with the approach… From what I understand, the authors use a Bernoulli mixture pseudo-model to reallocate the observations to components.  That is, given an […]
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10:09 PM | Hunger Games and Mathematics
Don’t be surprised, if you have read my post January Favorites, you saw that my favorites books for January are The Hunger Games Trilogy. As promised here are some good mathematical concepts that the books offer us. We just have to open our eyes and enjoy maths. So lets start understanding the concepts. Firstly, I don’t […]
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6:10 PM | rare events: there is an app for that
The Economist has a story about an iOS app called “Am I Going Down?” that estimates the odds of your flight going down based on the departure and arrival airports, the airline, and the type of plane used [Link]. The methodology isn’t available, but presumably it’s based on past performance (# crashes / # of flights) This app highlights […]
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5:00 PM | Mark Twain (4) vs. L. Ron Hubbard
OK, first the result from yesterday’s contest, Plato (1) vs. Henny Youngman. This one was surprisingly close. Youngman got the most votes, but I gotta go with the philosopher-king. The arguments that swayed me were X’s point that Plato could do an entire talk by projecting shadows on the wall, and, especially, Keith’s connection to […] The post Mark Twain (4) vs. L. Ron Hubbard appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
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3:52 PM | Libertà e verità in matematica
Il modo in cui ci occupiamo ancora oggi di numeri nelle scuole è, sostanzialmente, lo stesso modo utilizzato dai nostri antenati pitagorici, che vedevano i numeri come oggetti concreti, certo, ma in un modo che impediva loro di concepire in qualche modo l'infinito. Nel corso dei secoli l'unico che si avvicino alla rottura del confine con l'infinito fu Archimede, ma nella storia della matematica può essere considerato un caso abbastanza unico di mancato sviluppo soprattutto a causa […]

Bonevac D. (1983). Freedom and truth in mathematics, Erkenntnis, 20 (1) 93-102. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/bf00166496

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3:00 PM | Miscellaneous math resources
Every Wednesday I’ve been pointing out various resources on my web site. So far they’ve all been web pages, but the following are all PDF files. Probability and statistics: How to test a random number generator Predictive probabilities for normal outcomes One-arm binary predictive probability Relating two definitions of expectation Illustrating the error in the […]
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