Blog Archives

How to run a course (if you’re me)

July 17, 2017
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Last summer, I and my trusty henchpeople from the Department of Politics ran an intensive six week summer course for incoming freshmen on data science (‘POL245’, for locals). This post sketches out how I think course infrastructure should work, and provides some practical details of how we arranged things.  Most of our structures worked pretty … Continue reading How to run a course (if you’re me)

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Packaging the TheyWorkForYou API

June 4, 2017
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TheyWorkForYou is a great website for keeping up with British politics and one of the many fine things mySociety does to make democracy in the UK more transparent. There’s also an API, accessible via http and wrapped up for a few languages. However, R is not amongst them, so I wrote twfy. If you’re interested … Continue reading Packaging the TheyWorkForYou API

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No, Bayesians don’t think all parameters are random

May 3, 2016
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Pretty regularly – usually in the middle of one of those interminable fixed-vs-random effects discussions – someone will pipe up that “Of course, for Bayesians this random vs fixed effect distinction makes no sense because all parameters are random”. To the extent it can be made to make sense, the claim is false. It’s also … Continue reading No, Bayesians don’t think all parameters are random

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Voting and vaccinating

February 13, 2016
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Some people think it isn’t rational to vote. Usually the argument is as follows: the probability of being pivotal, that is: the probability that your vote will ‘decide’ the winner, shrinks rapidly as the number of voters increases. So if you vote in the hope of determining an outcome, then the probability of that happening … Continue reading Voting and vaccinating

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Premises

January 9, 2016
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A: You know I like the idea of using logic and logical deduction to understand how thinking should be done. This idea that beliefs are, or at least should be, the conclusions of deductive arguments is very clear and elegant. But I do worry… B: You worry?  Tell me about your worries. A: For a … Continue reading Premises

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Identifying the OS from R

June 10, 2015
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Sometimes a bit of R code needs to know what operating system it’s running on. Here’s a short account of where you can find this information and a little function to wrap the answer up neatly. Operating systems are a platform issue, so let’s start with the constants in the list .Platform. For Windows the … Continue reading Identifying the OS from R

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What’s so great about real names?

May 14, 2015
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A little while back a New York Times article discusses the consequences for college admission of saying undiplomatic things in social media. Apparently colleges monitor, or at least check up on, the social media presence of their potential applicants to see whether they’re the right kind of person for the school. Inevitably, students scrub, curate, or … Continue reading What’s so great about real names?

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Translational Bioinformatics Year In Review

April 10, 2015
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Translational Bioinformatics Year In Review

Per tradition, Russ Altman gave his "Translational Bioinformatics: The Year in Review" presentation at the close of the AMIA Joint Summit on Translational Bioinformatics in San Francisco on March 26th.  This year, papers came from six key areas (a...

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Getting R and Java 1.8 to work together on OSX

December 29, 2014
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Hey Mac OSX users with Java 1.8 installed. Did R just request a Java 1.6 installation and then promptly crash your session?  If so, read on… The Problem A few days ago I was attempting to use the mallet package for topic models and I found that typing > library(mallet) caused two things to happen: … Continue reading Getting R and Java 1.8 to work together on OSX

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An open letter to Scotland on the eve of their independence vote

September 17, 2014
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Bye.

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