Statistics

18 posts
Data shelf life

Stephen M. Stigler argues that data have a limited shelf life. The abstract: Data, unlike some wines, do not improve with age. The contrary view, that data are immortal, a view that may underlie the often-observed tendency to recycle old examples in texts and presentations, is illustrated with three classical examples and rebutted by further examination. Some general lessons for data science are noted, as well as some history of...

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The Myth of ‘Dumbing Down’

For The Atlantic, Ian Bogost on communicating complex ideas to an audience: One thing you learn when writing for an audience outside your expertise is that, contrary to the assumption that people might prefer the easiest answers, they are all thoughtful and curious about topics of every kind. After all, people have areas in their own lives in which they are the experts. Everyone is capable of deep understanding. Up...

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The rule governing which variable to put on which axis, served a la mode

When making a scatter plot, the two variables should not be placed arbitrarily. There is a rule governing this: the outcome variable should be shown on the vertical axis (also called y-axis), and the explanatory variable on the horizontal (or x-) axis. This chart from the archives of the Economist has this reversed: The title of the accompanying article is "Ice Cream and IQ"... In a Trifecta Checkup (link), it's...

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FiveThirtyEight launches new NBA metric for predications

FiveThirtyEight has been predicting NBA games for a few years now, based on a variant of Elo ratings, which in turn have roots in ranking chess players. But for this season, they have a new metric to predict with called RAPTOR, or Robust Algorithm (using) Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings: NBA teams highly value floor spacing, defense and shot creation, and they place relatively little value on traditional big-man skills....

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Statistical significance explainer, and Instagram’s experiment to hide Likes

There are some statistical concepts that all data visualization practitioners should know about, and the concept of statistical significance is one of them. It's a hard concept to grasp because it requires one to think beyond the data that are collected. The abstract thinking is necessary since we typically want to make general statements - while using the collected data as evidence. My new video in the Data Science: The...

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Statistical fallacies in the news

For UnHerd, Tom Chivers, talks about David Spiegelhalter’s new book and why every statistical headline deserves a grain of salt. One way to make sure things check out: As a non-mathematician, I have a few shortcuts for working out whether a statistic is worth believing, which seem to have done all right for me so far. One, which Spiegelhalter stresses, is that often the best statistical analysis you can do...

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AI-generated faces as stock photos

The Generated Photos project is a work in progress to provide realistic AI-generated faces for use in things like presentations or user interface design. “Copyrights, distribution rights, and infringement claims will soon be things of the past.” An API is in the works so that you can generate the kind of faces that you want, but for now, a set of 100k images are available. Cool? Slightly creepy? Tags: AI,...

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History of Tetris randomizers

Tetris is a game with foundations in randomness. Pieces are distributed randomly to players and they have to figure out the best spot for each piece. That randomness though has changed over the years as different versions of the game came out. Simon Laroche catalogued the significant changes to the Tetris randomizer. On the very first Tetris game: The first and original version of Tetris released had an unbiased randomizer....

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AI-generated voice used to fake phone call and steal money

Reporting for The Washington Post, Drew Harwell describes the case of the fake voice used for bad things: Thieves used voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive’s speech and dupe his subordinate into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a secret account, the company’s insurer said, in a remarkable case that some researchers are calling one of the world’s first publicly reported artificial-intelligence heists. The managing director of a...

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Statistical uncertainty as certainty

Mark Rober, who is having a good run of science and engineering videos on YouTube, posted a short note on how he embraces statistical uncertainty: As humans we are really good at using hindsight bias to convince ourselves we are more in control of things than we really are. For example, if you give 1024 people a coin and give them 10 tries to get as many tails as possible,...

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