the grey bastards [book review]

Another almost random read, The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French is a light (if gritty) fantasy book that should appeal to Warhammer players. Including the use of hogs as mounts. In that the main characters are half-orcs, in a Universe where lots of species (also found in Warhammer) co-exist, if not peacefully. The idea of […]

Hashing names does not protect privacy

Secure hash functions are practically impossible to reverse, but only if the input is unrestricted. If you generate 256 random bits and apply a secure 256-bit hash algorithm, an attacker wanting to recover your input can’t do much better than brute force, hashing 256-bit strings hoping to find one that matches your hash value. Even […]

Gendered languages and women’s workforce participation rates

Rajesh Venkatachalapathy writes: I recently came across a world bank document claiming that gendered languages reduce women’s labor force participation rates. It is summarized in the following press release: Gendered Languages May Play a Role in Limiting Women’s Opportunities, New Research Finds. This sounds a lot like the piranha problem, if there is any effect […]

The NEJM Issues New Guidelines on Statistical Reporting: Is the ASA P-Value Project Backfiring?

The New England Journal of Medicine NEJM announced new guidelines for authors for statistical reporting  yesterday. The ASA describes the change as “in response to the ASA Statement on P-values and Statistical Significance and subsequent The American Statistician special issue on statistical inference” (ASA I and II, in my abbreviation) If so, it seems to have backfired. I don’t […]

a hatchet job [book review]

By happenstance, I came across a rather savage review of John Hartigan’s Bayes Theory (1984) written by Bruce Hill in HASA, including the following slivers: “By and large this book is at its best in developing the mathematical consequences of the theory and at its worst when dealing with the underlying ideas and concepts, which […]

A rise in premature publications among politically engaged researchers may be linked to Trump’s election, study says

A couple people pointed me to this news story, “A rise in premature births among Latina women may be linked to Trump’s election, study says,” and the associated JAMA article, which begins: Question Did preterm births increase among Latina women who were pregnant during the 2016 US presidential election? Findings This population-based study used an […]

“The most mysterious star in the galaxy”

Charles Margossian writes: The reading for tomorrow’s class reminded me of a project I worked on as an undergraduate. It was the planet hunter initiative. The project shows light-curves to participants and asks them to find transit signals (i.e. evidence of a transiting planets). The idea was to rely on human pattern recognition capabilities to […]

locusts in a random forest

My friends from Montpellier, where I am visiting today, Arnaud Estoup, Jean-Michel Marin, and Louis Raynal, along with their co-authors, have recently posted on biorXiv a paper using ABC-RF (Random Forests) to analyse the divergence of two populations of desert locusts in Africa. (I actually first heard of their paper by an unsolicited email from […]

Pre-results review: Some results

Aleks Bogdanoski writes: I’m writing from the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) at UC Berkeley with news about pre-results review, a novel form of peer review where journals review (and accept) research papers based on their methods and theory — before any results are known. Pre-results review is motivated by growing […]

May the best technology win

I’ve become skeptical of arguments of the form “X is a better technology, but people won’t quit using Y.” Comparisons of technologies are multi-faceted. When someone says “X is better than Y” I want to ask “By all criteria? There’s nothing better about Y?” When people say X is better but Y won, it’s often […]

What does it take to repeat them?

Olimpiu Urcan writes: Making mistakes is human, but it takes a superhuman dose of ego and ignorance to repeat them after you’ve been publicly admonished about them. Not superhuman at all, unfortunately. We see it all the time. All. The. Time. I’m reminded of the very first time I contacted newspaper columnist David Brooks to […]

a statistic with consequences

In the latest Significance, there was a flyer with some members updates, an important one being that Sylvia Richardson had been elected the next president of the Royal Statistical Society. Congratulations to my friend Sylvia! Another item was that the publication of the 2018 RSS Statistic of the Year has led an Australian water company […]

Blindfold play and sleepless nights

In Edward Winter’s Chess Explorations there is the following delightful quote from the memoirs of chess player William Winter: Blindfold play I have never attempted seriously. I once played six, but spent so many sleepless nights trying to drive the positions out of my head that I gave it up. I love that. We think […]

Integral approximation trick

Here’s a simple integration approximation that works remarkably well in some contexts. Suppose you have an integrand that looks roughly like a normal density, something with a single peak that drops off fairly quickly on either side of the peak. The majority of integrals that arise in basic applications of probability and statistics fit this […]

An Ad-hoc Method for Calibrating Uncalibrated Models

In the previous article in this series, we showed that common ensemble models like random forest and gradient boosting are uncalibrated: they are not guaranteed to estimate aggregates or rollups of the data in an unbiased way. However, they can be preferable to calibrated models such as linear or generalized linear regression, when they make … Continue reading An Ad-hoc Method for Calibrating Uncalibrated Models