Category: Statistics

A genius can admit finding things difficult

Karen Uhlenbeck has just received the Abel Prize. Many say that the Fields Medal is the analog of the Nobel Prize for mathematics, but others say that the Abel Prize is a better analog. The Abel prize is a recognition of achievement over a career whereas the Fields Medal is only awarded for work done […]

When and how do politically extreme candidates get punished at the polls?

In 2016, Tausanovitch and Warshaw performed an analysis “using the largest dataset to date of voting behavior in congressional elections” and found: Ideological positions of congressional candidates have only a small association with citizens’ voting behavior. Instead, citizens cast their votes “as if” based on proximity to parties rather than individual candidates. The modest degree […]

asymptotics of synthetic likelihood [a reply from the authors]

[Here is a reply from David, Chris, and Robert on my earlier comments, highlighting some points I had missed or misunderstood.] Dear Christian Thanks for your interest in our synthetic likelihood paper and the thoughtful comments you wrote about it on your blog.  We’d like to respond to the comments to avoid some misconceptions. Your […]

Thermocouple polynomials and other sundries

I was looking up something on the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) web site the other day and ran across thermocouple polynomials. I wondered what that could be, assuming “thermocouple” was a metaphor for some algebraic property. No, it refers to physical thermocouples. The polynomials are functions for computing voltage as a function […]

Digital signatures with oil and vinegar

“Unbalanced oil and vinegar” is a colorful name for a cryptographic signature method. This post will give a high-level description of the method and explain where the name comes from. The RSA encryption algorithm depends on the fact that computers can easily multiply enormous numbers, but they cannot efficiently factor the product of two enormous […]

La peste et la vigne [book review]

During my trip to Cambodia, I read the second volume of this fantasy cycle in French. Which I liked almost as much as the first volume since the author continues to explore the mystery of the central character Syffe and its relations with some magical forces at play in his universe. As in most stories […]


I would like to once again recommend our readers to our note on wrapr::let(), an R function that can help you eliminate many problematic NSE (non-standard evaluation) interfaces (and their associate problems) from your R programming tasks. The idea is to imitate the following lambda-calculus idea: let x be y in z := ( λ … Continue reading wrapr::let()

ERC panel [step #1]

Although this post was written ages ago, regulations of the European Research Council (ERC) prevented me from posting it until now, for confidentiality reasons. I was indeed nominated as an expert member of the ERC panel on starting grants for mathematics [a denomination including statistics, obviously, but also quantum physics or some aspects of it], […]

Pele wins. On to the semifinals!

Like others, I’m sad that Veronica Geng is out of the running, so I’ll have to go with Diana: Jonathan’s post-hoc argument for Geng was so good that I now have to vote for Pele, given that his name can be transformed into Geng’s through a simple row matrix operation (a gesture that just might […]

One more reason I hate letters of recommendation

Recently I reviewed a bunch of good reasons to remove letters of recommendation when evaluating candidates for jobs or scholarships. Today I was at a meeting and thought of one more issue. Letters of recommendation are not merely a noisy communication channel; they’re also a biased channel. The problem is that letter writers are strategic: […]