Blog Archives

Canadian winters in cold gray

May 16, 2017
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Canadian winters in cold gray

I was looking at some Canadian data graphics while planning my talk in Vancouver this Thursday (you can register for the free talk here). I love the concept behind the following chart: Based on the forecasted temperature for 2015 (specifically...

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Book review: Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

May 15, 2017
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Book review: Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Kaiser Fung, founder of Principal Analytics Prep, discusses Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's new book, Everybody Lies

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The Times agrees on privacy and kind of on fake news business

May 11, 2017
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The New York Times Magazine has been publishing some pieces that directly relate to a couple of my blog posts. In this article, Amanda Hess noticed that "privacy became a commodity for the rich and powerful." This echoes my blog post on "Data is the next frontier of equal rights." Hess discussed the asymmetry and hypocrisy of the situation whereby the same businesses and business executives that are wantonly stripping…

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A pretty good chart ruined by some naive analysis

May 10, 2017
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A pretty good chart ruined by some naive analysis

The following chart showing wage gaps by gender among U.S. physicians was sent to me via Twitter: The original chart was published by the Stat News website (link). I am most curious about the source of the data. It apparently...

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It’s your fault when you use defaults

May 8, 2017
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It’s your fault when you use defaults

The following chart showed up on my Twitter feed last week. It's a cautionary tale for using software defaults. At first glance, the stacking of years in a bar chart makes little sense. This is particularly so when there appears...

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That fake news business

May 4, 2017
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When Hillary Clinton unexpectedly lost the election in November 2016, it was high time for pundits to espouse their pet theories for the shocking losses suffered by the Democrats at all levels of government. The usual suspects were put on parade, such as “Bernie Bros” who abstained from voting and the “deplorables” who voted against their own interests. For the first time, two unlikely entities faced scrutiny: the social-media giant,…

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Pints, water, fishes, pond

May 2, 2017
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Pints, water, fishes, pond

@apollo_0 on twitter asks me to comment on this, by Scientific Britain: Here's my comment:

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Ramp metering magic

May 1, 2017
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Here is a recent article giving some history on the invention of ramp meters, used on highways to mitigate congestion. I discuss this subject in Numbers Rule Your World (link). There is an interesting stochastic phenomenon underlying highway congestion. Ramp meters help by regulating the inflow of vehicles onto the highway, and prolonging the period of time by which the highway runs at full capacity. The key insight is that…

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Data sleaze: Uber and beyond

April 26, 2017
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There has been a barrage of negative publicity related to Uber recently. The latest salvo is a long article in the New York Times (link). This piece focuses on Uber's CEO, who was trained as a computer engineer, but my interest lies primarily in several revelations about how Uber collects and uses customer data. The key episode picked up by various outlets (e.g. TechCrunch, Wired) involves Uber "secretly identifying and…

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Reorientation in the French election

April 25, 2017
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Reorientation in the French election

Financial Times has this chart up about the voters for the National Front, which is Marie Le Pen's party. I find the chart very hard to decipher, even though I usually like the dot plot format. The first thing to...

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