Dispatches

Building trustworthy Big Data algorithms

By Emily Ayshford Much of our reams of data sit in large databases of unstructured text. Finding insights among emails, text documents, and websites is extremely difficult unless we can search, characterize, and classify their text data in a meaningful way. One of the leading big data algorithms for finding ...

Read More

Confirmation bias and proof by example: Why people think the Moon always appears at night (while it doesn’t)

Xiaohan Zeng, Andrea LancichinettiEdited by Nick Timkovich For thousands of years, people thought that the Sun and the Moon were opposites: the Sun governs the day, and the Moon dominates the night. Surprisingly, this observation is common across many cultures. In Greek mythology, Apollo, the god of the Sun, and ...

Read More

Biologists hate math and other citation database stories

The conclusions reached by a study published in a recent issue of PNAS may not be entirely trustworthy. Well, maybe I need to be more specific so as to narrow it down to just one study. The paper I’m referring to is "Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists" ...

Read More

Rotten Tomatoes vs Metacritic

Two men enter, one man leaves In my younger and more vulnerable years my advisor gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like using statistics,” he told me, “just remember the assumptions you make.” He didn’t say any more, but we’ve ...

Read More

Interactive Data Analysis

GUI programs are notoriously complicated and time consuming to write, but they are an essential component in a computational scientist’s toolbox for one simple reason: they are the best means for developing deep intuition for the behavior of the algorithms that we write every day in our work. – David Mertens

Read More

The Probability of a Psychic Octopus

You remember Paul, he was world-renown as the most successful prognosticator of the World Cup. He successfully predicted the results of all of Germany’s games, and he correctly picked Spain as the winner in the final. Paul was the sensation of the year, with hundreds of articles written and TV reports made acclaiming his amazing soccer intuition. Also, he was an octopus.

Read More