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Blog Profile / The Numbers Guy

Filed Under:Academics / Mathematics
Posts on Regator:562
Posts / Week:1.7
Archived Since:December 12, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Train of Thought: Lost Glove

Walking to the train station this morning in subfreezing weather, The Numbers (emphasis on the numb) learned we'd lost another glove. That's the second incomplete pair we've had this winter. No glove to protect the digits. That got us thinking about all the lonely gloves we've spotted on the ground this winter. How many?

Reader Mailbag: Behind the Numbers on Price Differences

On Saturday, The Numbers examined how regional price differences affect purchasing power, and several readers noted that the most dramatic differences are related to housing. That’s true. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes differences in the costs of rents, goods and other expenses across states and metropolitan areas. Show More Summary

Revisiting the Oscar Odds

Late last week, The Numbers took a look at the odds being put on best picture and found that a "B" movie was likely to win. We were right in that regard. Congratulations, "Birdman". However, forced to pick one of the "B" movies to win an Oscar pool, and we went with "Boyhood". We were wrong there.

Oscar Odds: Best Bet for Best Picture?

If The Numbers were a betting blog, we'd pick a movie that starts with "B" to take best-picture honors in Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. Right now, the race for best picture seems to have come down to two players -- "Birdman" and "Boyhood". Show More Summary

Behind The Numbers: Factoring Cost of Living Into Poverty Thresholds

As the president and others have been grappling with how to define wealth and the middle class, the discussion has ignored the fact that across the country, there are vast regional differences in the cost of living. However, in the past, the U.S. Show More Summary

Number of the Day: $14.5 Million

Today's number, $14.5 million, represents the amount of advance ticket sales so far for Larry David's nearly-sold-out "Fish in the Dark." That extends the advance-sales record for a non-musical play and it's one that hits particularly close to home. Literally. It's being staged right outside The Numbers HQ in New York at the Cort Theatre.

Number of the Day: 11.4 Million

Late Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that 11.4 million consumers selected health insurance through or state-based insurance marketplaces during the second year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. But that number is short on key details, namely: How many are newly ensured and how many are just re-enrollees?

Reader Mailbag: Little Love for the Drake

On Saturday, The Numbers described how several young men adapted the Drake Equation to estimate how many people met their list of criteria for romance, but several readers detected a potential problem with the estimates. A better approach...Show More Summary

Number of the Day: 6,689,502,913,449,135,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,0

Today's number -- 6,689,502,913,449,135 followed by 183 zeros ?-- comes courtesy of WSJ colleagues Steven Rosenbush and Laura Stevens in this mind-bending story on the number of alternatives for the ordering the average UPS driver's 120 daily stops. This is just the kind of story that makes you appreciate the human imagination and spirit. And capitalism.

Behind the Numbers: Another Love Formula

Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University, says there's an easier approach than applying the Drake Equation to determine one's chance at finding love. “The chance of it happening on any one day is about 1 in 3,650,” he said (not accounting for Leap Days over a presumed 10-year span). Show More Summary

On Friday the 13th, the Numerophobes Emerge

Every Friday the 13th seems to bring a spate of stories about triskaidekaphobia, that ancient fear of the number 13. Indeed, fear of numbers is more than just the feeling a young student gets when asked to do a math problem at the chalkboard. Broadly speaking, numerophobia is the fear of numbers in all sorts of contexts. And The Numbers can help get past those fears.

Number of the Day: 0.8%

Despite presumably being pumped up by savings in gas prices, American consumers didn't spend quite as much at retailers in January as economists expected, with overall retail sales falling 0.8% last month. On its face, that number isn't great. But does it tell the story of the American consumer? Not fully.

Number of the Day: $700 Billion

Sometime yesterday afternoon, Apple created a new category: U.S. companies with a stock-market capitalization of $700 billion or greater. The underlying numbers are astounding.

Reader Mailbag: Measles Checkup

Following Saturday’s column about herd immunity, vaccinations and the recent measles outbreak, several readers wrote to ask about the safety of the measles vaccine, its relationship to autism and the possibility that illegal immigrants have brought the disease to this country.The Numbers followed up with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and delivers the findings.

Number of the Day: 1 in 175,223,510

With Saturday's Powerball drawing failing to yield a grand-prize winner, the jackpot in this Wednesday's drawing jumps to $450 million or so (less if taken in single cash payout). Before telling your boss what you really think, know going in the odds of victory: 1 in 175,223,510.

Behind the Numbers: Herd Immunity

Herd immunity relies upon a certain vaccination rate--92%-94% in the case of measles--to safeguard those in the herd who can't or won't get immunized. And that rate has been threatened by the anti-vaccination trend.

January Jobs Report – The Numbers

The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate rose to 5.7% from December’s 5.6%. Here are highlights from the report.

Number of the Day: 12,000

The numbers behind the Staples-Office Depot merger proposal run deeper than store count and purchase price, and regulators likely won't be quick to press the "easy" button.

Number of the Day: Zero

While zero is not a pure counting number, today's Number of the Day provides an inviting window through which to look back at some recent fiscal thinking: Around the turn of the century, U.S. budget forecasters (from both sides of the aisle) predicted the national debt would one day be zero. That hasn't happened, but could forecasters ever issue such rosy prognostications again?

Number of the Day: 118.5 Million

Many people are talking about 114.4 million when it comes to the Super Bowl's record viewership. But there is a more encompassing number within Nielsen's preliminary estimate: the 118.5 million record number of viewers who tuned in for the halftime show. What does that mean? $$$

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