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Windows 10 anniversary updates includes a whole Linux layer – this is good news for data scientists

September 24, 2016
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Windows 10 anniversary updates includes a whole Linux layer – this is good news for data scientists

If you are on Windows 10, no doubt you have heard that Microsoft included the bash shell in its 2016 Windows 10 anniversary update. What you may not know is that this is much, much more than just the bash shell. This is a whole Linux layer that enables...

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Making sense of the most detailed map of gay marriages

September 23, 2016
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Making sense of the most detailed map of gay marriages

Last week, my Columbia students discussed this nice article in the New York Times called "The Most Detailed Map of Gay Marriages in America". (link) The center of the article is this map: I asked the students to identify the problem that this dataviz is supposed to address. Someone responded that it tells us where gay married couples are found geographically. I asked her what is the answer to the…

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A Fun Gastronomical Dataset: What’s on the Menu?

September 20, 2016
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A Fun Gastronomical Dataset: What’s on the Menu?

I just found a fun food themed dataset that I’d never heard about and that I thought I’d share. It’s from a project called What’s on the menu where the New York Public Library has crowdsourced a digitization of their collection of historical ...

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Uncertainty in a probability

September 20, 2016
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Uncertainty in a probability

Suppose you did a pilot study with 10 subjects and found a treatment was effective in 7 out of the 10 subjects. With no more information than this, what would you estimate the probability to be that the treatment is effective in the next subject? Easy: 0.7. Now what would you estimate the probability to be […]

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On "Shorter Papers"

September 20, 2016
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Journals should not corral shorter papers into sections like "Shorter Papers".  Doing so sends a subtle (actually unsubtle) message that shorter papers are basically second-class citizens, somehow less good, or less important, or less so...

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Relative error distributions, without the heavy tail theatrics

September 20, 2016
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Relative error distributions, without the heavy tail theatrics

Nina Zumel prepared an excellent article on the consequences of working with relative error distributed quantities (such as wealth, income, sales, and many more) called “Living in A Lognormal World.” The article emphasizes that if you are dealing with such quantities you are already seeing effects of relative error distributions (so it isn’t an exotic … Continue reading Relative error distributions, without the heavy tail theatrics

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Primers in computational biology

September 19, 2016
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Primers in computational biology

I recently stumbled across this collection of computational biology primers in Nature Biotechnology. Many of these are old, but they're still great resources to get a fundamental understanding of the topic. Here they are in no particular order....How d...

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vecpack: an R package for packing stuff into vectors

September 18, 2016
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vecpack: an R package for packing stuff into vectors

Here’s a problem I’ve had again and again: let’s say you’ve defined a statistical model with several parameters. One of them is a scalar. Another is a matrix. The third one is a vector, and so on. When fitting the model the natural thing to do is to write a likelihood function that takes as […]

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Blow it up and start again

September 16, 2016
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Blow it up and start again

The president of Olin College, Rick Miller, spoke recently at the Business Innovation Factory.  Here's the most-tweeted quote from the talk: "The only way to change education is to blow it up and start again."I agree, and I saw an example recently...

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The fix

September 15, 2016
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The fix

This is a very interesting post by Martyn Plummer on the JAGS News blog, describing how apparently silly details may make a world of difference. I think Martyn says he's now fixed the issue (basically, it appears that JAGS was sensitive to the order in...

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