March 19, 2015

11:15 PM | The synoptic problem and statistics [book review]
A book that came to me for review in CHANCE and that came completely unannounced is Andris Abakuks’ The Synoptic Problem and Statistics.  “Unannounced” in that I had not heard so far of the synoptic problem. This problem is one of ordering and connecting the gospels in the New Testament, more precisely the “synoptic” gospels […]
11:08 PM | Il "ritorno" di Casty negli Stati Uniti
Ovviamente è un "ritorno" fumettistico, con l'uscita, sul primo numero della nuova serie di Mickey Mouse targata IDW (che prosegue con doppia numerazione dalla precedente), dove viene pubblicata Topolino e la spedizione perduta disegnata da Giorgio Cavazzano. Per l'occasione Casty ha anche disegnato la copertina regolare dell'albo: via Comic Book Resources
5:28 PM | Board of pi
This board by David Cushing at Newcastle University attempts to calculate pi very crudely by counting how many squares a circle covers and using the formula Area = pi x r2 to get a value of 2.98. Can you do better? This exercise was part of a series of activities carried out to celebrate “Ultimate pi […]
4:00 PM | Karl Marx vs. Friedrich Nietzsche (4); Austen advances
For yesterday, I was strongly rooting for Popper. I read several of his books about thirty years ago and they had a huge effect on me (and on a lot of social scientists, I think). But the best comment was about Austen. Here’s Dalton with the comment: “A woman, especially if she has the misfortune […] The post Karl Marx vs. Friedrich Nietzsche (4); Austen advances appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
3:57 PM | Eclissi di Sole parziale a Brera
Con un po' di ritardo, vi ricordo che domani, tra le 9:30 e le 11:45 si verificherà una eclissi parziale di Sole. Anche l'Osservatorio di Brera, in collaborazione con il Circolo Astrofili di Milano, si prepara per osservare l'eclissi rendendo disponibile l'ingresso (libero e senza prenotazione) presso le terrazze della Cupola a Fiore (che si trova al quinto piano di un edificio non provvisto di ascensore).I visitatori verranno accolti in turni di 20 minuti circa ciascuno. La capienza […]
1:02 PM | March Madness!
Ummm . . . this one’s gonna really irritate all the subscription-cancelers . . . Paul Davidson updated the brackets (as of a couple days ago): And here’s a version showing the survivors among each of the eight categories. The artists are all gone, and only one religious leader is left, but the other categories […] The post March Madness! appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
12:58 PM | The continuing saga of io9’s history of science inanities.
I made a sort of deal with myself to, if possible, avoid io9 and above all the inane utterances of Esther Inglis-Arkell. Unfortunately I fell for a bit of history of science click bait on Twitter and stumbled into her … Continue reading →
10:31 AM | Guest Post: A Discussion Of PARCC Testing
This is a guest post by Eugene Stern, who writes a blog at Sense Made Here, and Kristin Wald, who writes a blog at This Unique* Weblog. Crossposted on their blogs as well. Today’s post is a discussion of education reform, standardized testing, and PARCC with my friend Kristin Wald, who has been extremely kind […]
9:23 AM | Apiological: mathematical speculations about bees (Part 3: Travelling Salesman)
This is part 3 of a three-part series of mathematical speculations about bees. Part 1 looked at honeycomb geometry, and part 2 looked at how bees estimate nest volumes. The sight of bumblebees roaming around British gardens, foraging for nectar, is common and comforting. The movement of these fuzzy bees between flowers and plants can often seem... Read more »

March 18, 2015

11:15 PM | Significance and artificial intelligence
As my sorry excuse of an Internet provider has unable to fix my broken connection for several days, I had more time to read and enjoy the latest Significance I received last week. Plenty of interesting entries, once again! Even though, faithfull to my idiosyncrasies, I must definitely criticise the cover (but you may also […]
10:02 PM | Math Bracket 2015
March Math Madness is here!  Presenting the 2015 math bracket, as usual prepared by our crack team of handicappers here at the UW math department.  As always, remember that the math bracket is for entertainment purposes only and you should not take offense if the group rated your department lower than the plainly inferior department […]
7:00 PM | What do CERN, the ISS, and Stephen Fry have in Common?
You’ll have to read the New Yorker article on Richard M. Stallman and the The GNU Manifesto by Maria Bustillos to find out! And what’s up with Tim O’Reilly’s comments about the Old Testment vs. New Testament?   That’s an ad hominem attack of the highest order, guaranteed to get the Judeo-Christians even more riled […] The post What do CERN, the ISS, and Stephen Fry have in Common? appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social […]
4:10 PM | Breve storia del pi greco - parte 3
Calvin & Hobbes di Bill WattersonLe tecniche di costruzione geometriche degli antichi greci erano dette "con riga e compasso". In questo modo è possibile costruire una gran quantità di poligoni regolari, per esempio, ma esistono tre problemi che risultano impossibili a meno di non utilizzare tecniche differenti: la trisecazione di un angolo, la duplicazione del cubo, la quadratura del cerchio.In particolare per la quadratura, è semplice vedere come, detto $r$ il raggio […]

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4:00 PM | Jane Austen vs. Karl Popper; Lee advances
For yesterday’s contest I’ll have to go with this comment by Nuthin: This series of posts is so tedious that I’m considering removing this blog from my RSS feed altogether. Stewart Lee is a master of hecklers. In a lot of his work he pretty much invites people to heckle, he antagonizes his audience, etc. […] The post Jane Austen vs. Karl Popper; Lee advances appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:59 PM | New time unit needed!
We need a time unit that’s bigger than a minute but smaller than an hour. I thought of it when writing this comment in which I referred to “2100 valuable minutes of classroom time” during the semester (that’s 75 minutes per class, twice a week, for 14 weeks). A minute of class time is pretty […] The post New time unit needed! appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:18 PM | the vim cheat sheet
Filed under: Kids, Linux, R, University life, Wines Tagged: An Evil Guest, editor, unix, vim
1:00 PM | GTD for academics: The importance of review
In this ongoing series of using Getting Things Done (GTD) in an academic lifestyle, we look at the process of review on a weekly, daily, and quarterly basis.
6:16 AM | An averaged form of Chowla’s conjecture
Kaisa Matomaki, Maksym Radziwill, and I have just uploaded to the arXiv our paper “An averaged form of Chowla’s conjecture“. This paper concerns a weaker variant of the famous conjecture of Chowla (discussed for instance in this previous post) that as for any distinct natural numbers , where denotes the Liouville function. (One could also […]
2:33 AM | Strawberries and Cream
I discovered yesterday, three nested directories down in my math department account, that I still had a bunch of files from my last desktop Mac, which retired in about 2003. And among those files were backups from my college Mac Plus, and among those files were backups from 3 1/4″ discs I used on the […]
12:16 AM | A boy’s first casserole
CJ had a vision for dinner. I don’t know where he came up with this. But he said he wanted mashed potatoes with green beans and chopped up hardboiled eggs. OK I said but you know what it needs, some Penzey’s toasted onions and we can put some chunks of gruyere in there and it’ll […]

March 17, 2015

11:15 PM | solution manual for Bayesian Essentials with R
The solution manual to our Bayesian Essentials with R has just been arXived. If I link this completion with the publication date of the book itself, it sure took an unreasonable time to come out and sadly with no obvious reason or even less justification for the delay… Given the large overlap with the solution […]
6:00 PM | A subtle way to over-fit
If you train a model on a set of data, it should fit that data well. The hope, however, is that it will fit a new set of data well. So in machine learning and statistics, people split their data into two parts. They train the model on one half, and see how well it […]
4:07 PM | Cartoomics 2015: in giro a fare interviste
Quest'anno sono riuscito ad andare a Cartoomics con il pass per la stampa. Questo ha implicato non solo un giro per stand, ma anche seguire incontri (non troppi) e fare interviste, alcune come intervistatore, altre come operatore.Innanzitutto ecco quelle ai dinseyani. Si parte con Tito Faraci e Paolo Mottura, autori di Dylan Top: L'alba dei topi invadenti:A seguire ecco Francesco Artibani, che era presente per l'uscita della Golden Edition, un albo bello pieno di storie scritte dal bravo […]
4:00 PM | Sigmund Freud vs. Stewart Lee; Dick advances
Yesterday‘s thread was won by Slugger, who wrote: I accidentally swallowed a stelazine capsule and have seen that Grandma Moses is in fact a reptilian lifeform without the ability to vocalize. My vote goes to PKD. Where did that light switch come from, anyway? I could’ve sworn it was a pull cord. . . . […] The post Sigmund Freud vs. Stewart Lee; Dick advances appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:02 PM | The 1980 Math Olympiad Program: Where are they now?
Brian Hunt: He was the #1 math team kid in our team (Montgomery County, Maryland). I think he came in first place in the international olympiad the next year (yup, here’s the announcement). We carpooled once or twice to county math team practices, and I remember that his mom would floor it rather than slow […] The post The 1980 Math Olympiad Program: Where are they now? appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.
1:00 PM | Mathematical arbitrage
I suspect there’s a huge opportunity in moving mathematics from the pure column to the applied column. There may be a lot of useful math that never sees application because the experts are unconcerned with or unaware of applications. In particular I wonder what applications there may be of number theory, especially analytic number theory. […]
12:30 PM | What’s so Great about Continued Fractions?
The more I learn about continued fractions, the more enamored I am with them. Last week, when I wrote about how much better continued fractions are than the arbitrary decimal digits we usually use to... -- Read more on
11:29 AM | A critique of a review of a book by Bruce Schneier
I haven’t yet read Bruce Schneier’s new book, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles To Collect Your Data and Control Your World. I plan to in the coming days, while I’m traveling with my kids for spring break. Even so, I already feel capable of critiquing this review of his book (hat tip Jordan Ellenberg), […]
3:45 AM | Pairing tools and problems: a lesson from the methods of mathematics and the Entscheidungsproblem
Three weeks ago it was my lot to present at the weekly integrated mathematical oncology department meeting. Given the informal setting, I decided to grab one gimmick and run with it. I titled my talk: ‘2’. It was an overview of two recent projects that I’ve been working on: double public goods for acid mediated […]

Kaznatcheev, A. (2013). Complexity of evolutionary equilibria in static fitness landscapes., arXiv, arXiv:


March 16, 2015

11:15 PM | Turing’s Bayesian contributions
Following The Imitation Game, this recent movie about Alan Turing played by Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberbatch, been aired in French theatres, one of my colleagues in Dauphine asked me about the Bayesian contributions of Turing. I first tried to check in Sharon McGrayne‘s book, but realised it had vanished from my bookshelves, presumably lent to someone […]
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