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On deck this week

Mon: Steven Pinker on writing: Where I agree and where I disagree Tues: Buggy-whip update Wed: The inclination to deny all variation Thurs: The Fallacy of Placing Confidence in Confidence Intervals Fri: Saying things that are out of place Sat: Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t... Show More Summary

Who should write the new NYT chess column?

Matt Gaffney gives these “three essential characteristics” for writing “a relevant, interesting weekly chess column” in 2014: 1. It must be written by someone who is deeply involved in the chess world. Summaries of information that is already available online won’t cut it anymore. Show More Summary

Subtleties with measurement-error models for the evaluation of wacky claims

Paul Pudaite writes: In the latest Journal of the American Statistical Association (September 2014, Vol. 109 No. 507), Andrew Harvey and Alessandra Luati published a paper [preprint here] — “Filtering With Heavy Tails” — featuring the...Show More Summary

My podcast masterlist

Here’s an early Christmas gift to you: a list of podcasts I enjoy! For listening while you’re doing all your holiday season travelling. APM: Marketplace KCRW’s Left, Right, and Center Newshour BBC World Update: Daily Commute Common Sense with Dan Carlin PRI’s The World: Latest Edition On the Media The Young Turks Video Podcast Citizen […]

Plaig: it’s not about the copying, it’s about the lack of attribution

I think most of you understand this one already but there still seems to be some confusion on how plagiarism works, so here goes... Basbøll links to a twitter feed by Adam Kotsko, a scholar of religion who’s written about the work of controversial philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Show More Summary

Experiments with conference processes

NIPS is a premier conference in machine learning (arguably the best, or co-best with ICML). NIPS has also been a source of interesting and ongoing experiments with the process of reviewing.For example, in 2010 Rich Zemel, who was a PC...Show More Summary

Loneliness, Oil and Star Wars (Statshot)

A large study has found that loneliness among teenagers in the U.S. has dropped significantly in the past two decades, good news from OPEC for gas guzzlers, and a look at long-delayed sequels.

254A, Supplement 2: A little bit of complex and Fourier analysis

We will shortly turn to the complex-analytic approach to multiplicative number theory, which relies on the basic properties of complex analytic functions. In this supplement to the main notes, we quickly review the portions of complex analysis that we will be using in this course. We will not attempt a comprehensive review of this subject; […]

When Using Math to Catch Crooks, You Can’t Jump to Conclusions

Benford’s Law, a mathematical tool that helps tease out anomalies in accounting records, can help identify fraud, but the leading expert on Benford’s cautions against jumping to hasty conclusions based on a single test.

The persistence of the “schools are failing” story line

I happened to come across a post from 2011 about some work of Roland Fryer, a prominent economist who works in education research. In an article, Fryer made the offhand remark that “test scores have been largely constant over the past...Show More Summary

Free Time

We have a very practical task today: Given the set of busy-time intervals of two people, as in a calendar, find the free-time intervals of both people so they can arrange a meeting. Your task is to write a program to find free time. When you are finished, you are welcome to read or run […]

Designing a study to see if “the 10x programmer” is a real thing

Lorin H. writes: One big question in the world of software engineering is: how much variation is there in productivity across programmers? (If you google for “10x programmer” you’ll see lots of hits). Let’s say I wanted to explore this research question with a simple study. Show More Summary

Random matrices have simple spectrum

Van Vu and I have just uploaded to the arXiv our paper “Random matrices have simple eigenvalues“. Recall that an Hermitian matrix is said to have simple eigenvalues if all of its eigenvalues are distinct. This is a very typical property of matrices to have: for instance, as discussed in this previous post, in the […]

254A, Supplement 1: A little bit of algebraic number theory (optional)

Analytic number theory is only one of many different approaches to number theory. Another important branch of the subject is algebraic number theory, which studies algebraic structures (e.g. groups, rings, and fields) of number-theoretic interest. With this perspective, the classical field of rationals, and the classical ring of integers, are placed inside the […]

If observational studies are outlawed, then only outlaws will do observational studies

My article “Experimental reasoning in social science” begins as follows: As a statistician, I was trained to think of randomized experimentation as representing the gold standard of knowledge in the social sciences, and, despite having...Show More Summary

Statshot: Money, Super PACs and What Crime Americans Fear Most

This week in Statshot: money may not buy happiness, but countries with growing economies, as well as more stable politics, tend to have more satisfied citizens; also, computer hackers’ theft of credit-card information tops the list of what Americans fear most; and more.

How to read (in quantitative social science). And by implication, how to write.

It all started when I was reading Chris Blattman’s blog and noticed this: One of the most provocative and interesting field experiments I [Blattman] have seen in this year: Poor people often do not make investments, even when returns are high. Show More Summary

Gray Code Neighbors

Our exercise today is based on Gray code sequences, where each number in the sequence differs from its predecessor in only one bit. We studied Gray code sequences in a previous exercise. Here is an interview question base on Gray code sequences: Given two integers, determine if they are two consecutive numbers in a Gray […]

Students don’t know what’s best for their own learning

[This post is by Aki] This is my first blog posting. Arthur Poropat at Griffith University has a great posting Students don’t know what’s best for their own learning about two recent studies which came to the same conclusion: university students evaluate their teachers more positively when they learn less. Show More Summary

Stan hack session at Columbia on Saturday

[this post is by Daniel] For those of you in NYC this Saturday, we’re having a Stan hack session from 11 am – 5 pm. A lot of the Stan developers will be around. It’s free, but registration required. See link below. Bring a laptop, some data, and a model you want to fit. Show More Summary

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