Blog Profile / The Numbers Guy

Filed Under:Academics / Mathematics
Posts on Regator:517
Posts / Week:1.1
Archived Since:December 12, 2008

Blog Post Archive

A Note to Readers

Dear readers, The Numbers blog will no longer be updated as of July 2017. We will continue to look at the use of numbers in news, business and politics in our weekly column, and you can follow us on Twitter for the latest updates. Additionally, you can download the WSJ app for iOS or Android to follow Jo Craven McGinty and all […]

The Challenging Calculus of Figuring Out Who Gets to Vote

The litigants in a recent Supreme Court case suggested using the American Community Survey, an annual sample of 2.5% of U.S. households that asks about citizenship, to estimate the citizen voter-age population.

Retirement Calculators, Assumptions and Statistical Methods

Retirement calculators employ different assumptions to help users predict whether their rate of savings will support their current lifestyle after they quit work. Simple calculators used fixed assumptions for variables such as rates of inflation and return on investments. Show More Summary

Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials: Catchall Groupings

Generational groupings are attractive to academics who want to measure social and cultural change. They’re coveted by marketers looking to capitalize on evolving consumer tastes. And they appeal to others seeking to exploit the perceived psyche of the different groups.

Economists’ Enemy: Residual Seasonality

When seasonally adjusted numbers continue to exhibit the influences of seasonal effects, much as first-quarter readings on gross domestic product have regularly been doing, statisticians refer to it as residual seasonality. And that effect hampers seasoned economists from making clear-eyed judgments on the strength of the economy.

How Math Helps Fight Epidemics Like Zika

When an epidemic such as Zika threatens to sweep across the country, public-health workers and policy makers need some basic information in order to plan a strategic response to make the best use of limited resources to protect the public from the spread of the disease. Enter the mathematicians and statisticians.

Joe DiMaggio’s Streak (Predictably) Survives

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s bid to supplant Joe DiMaggio atop the Major League Baseball hit-streak list ended at 29 games. That's not surprising as many observers consider Joltin' Joe's streak the most difficult record to break in sports.

Behind The Numbers: Beating DiMaggio’s Streak From the Armchair really wants to give away $5.6 million. But there’s a catch: To claim the prize, one needs to participate in Major League Baseball’s Beat the Streak contest and assemble a batting streak that surpasses Joe DiMaggio’s run of 56 consecutive games in 1941. This isn't easy.

Why Some Cicadas Have Reason to Brood: Potential Extinction

?Periodical cicadas live underground for 13 or 17 years before emerging to mate, lay eggs and die off, and today, there are 15 known broods in the U.S. There used to be 16 and the current number may dwindle if the teetering Brood VII goes extinct.

Facetime With Uncle Sam

A number of government surveys are conducted in face-to-face interviews for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, physical material must be collected or the survey is too long and complex to conduct by telephone or mailed questionnaire. The results are some of the richest and most complete survey data available.

Census on Voter Counts: Don’t Use the American Community Survey

The litigants in a recent Supreme Court case suggested using the American Community Survey, an annual sample of 2.5% of U.S. households that asks about citizenship, to estimate the citizen voter-age population. The agency that collects the data disagrees. Show More Summary

Behind The Numbers: Researching Hailstorms

Hailstorm data help meteorologists improve forecasts, insurers assess damages and businesses and citizens minimize exposure.

4/4/16: Square Root Day

Today, apparently, is Square Root Day. And it's rarer than Pi Day, which occurs once a year--or more if you celebrate on Pi Approximation Day.

Behind ‘The’ Numbers: Small Words With Big Meaning

?How do I love “the”? If you ask James W. Pennebaker, the author of “The Secret Life of Pronouns,” the answer is a lot. Mr. Pennebaker is a pioneer in computerized textual analysis who specializes in plucking meaning from the unlikeliest of words: articles (such as “the”), pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, negations and selected adverbs.

Behind The Numbers: VSL in Cost-Benefit Analyses

Government agencies are required to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for every regulation expected to cost $100 million or more in a year, and to help assess the benefits, the agencies often use a device called the value of a statistical life.

Numbers in the News: Pieces of Pi

While today isn't the Super Pi Day of last year, where the date format -- 3-14-15 -- extended the run of digits and encouraged math lovers to get married,we didn't want to let today go pi-less. Hence, a roundup of pi pieces.

Behind The Numbers: Regulating Water Contaminants a Lengthy Process

There are around 100,000 potential drinking-water contaminants, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates only about 90 of them. But even when the agency decides to regulate a contaminant, the process can take years.

Behind The Numbers: Jobs Figures, and a Grain of Salt

As numbers go, the monthly nonfarm payroll report offers some of the most parsed and open-to-interpretation there are.

Leap Day Babies–What Are the Chances?

This past week's Numbers column on leap day included a box of facts that led a reader to write in about the accuracy of one tidbit--that the chance of being born naturally on Feb. 29 is roughly 1 in 1,461. Turns out, there are several schools of thought on the calculation.

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