Monthly Archives: December 2008

Broken windows theory and programming

The broken windows theory says that cracking down on petty crime reduces more serious crime. The name comes from the explanation that if a building has a few broken windows, it invites vandals to break more windows and eventually burn

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Posted in Software development

Visualizing cancer DNA scrambling

FlowingData posted this graph showing changes to the DNA of a breast cancer cell. See the original post Researchers map chaos inside cancer cell for details.

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Posted in Science

Remembering a remarkable lady

I just found out that my great aunt passed away this morning. She lived over 100 years and was always filled with joy and curiosity.

Posted in Uncategorized

Are men better than women at chess?

The most recent 60-Second Science podcast discusses the abilities of men and women in playing chess. One can argue that men are better than women at playing chess because all world champions have been men. However, that only suggests that

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Posted in Math, Statistics

Top 10 posts of 2008

This blog started in January 2008, so the best posts of the year are also the best posts of all time! Here’s a list of a couple of the most popular posts on this site in each of five categories.

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Early evidence-based medicine

In the 1840′s, Ignaz Semmelweis, an assistant professor in the maternity ward of Vienna General Hospital, demonstrated that mortality rates dropped from 12 percent to 2 percent when doctors washed their hands between seeing patients. His colleagues resisted his findings for

Posted in Science

My favorite Christmas carol

A few years ago I noticed the words to Hark, the Herald Angels Sing as if I’d never heard the song before. Since then I’ve decided that it is my favorite carol because of its rich language and deep theology.

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Small advantages show up in the extremes

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success. One of the examples he gives early in his book studies the best Canadian hockey players. A disproportionate number of the top players were born in the first quarter

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Posted in Statistics

Debasing the word "technology"

It bugs me to hear people say “technology” when they really mean “computer technology”, as if drug design, for example, isn’t technology. But now I’ve noticed some folks are even more narrow in their use of the term. They use

Posted in Uncategorized

Ave Maria

If you’d like to take 3 minutes out of your day to listen to a beautiful voice, enjoy the video below.

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Posted in Music

Negative space in operating systems

Unix advocates often say Unix is great because it has all these powerful tools. And yet practically every Unix tool has been ported to Windows. So why not just run Unix tools on Windows so that you have access to both tool

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Posted in Computing, Creativity, PowerShell

Star of David theorem

The 360 blog has a post today about the Star of David Theorem. See the original post for an explanation of the figure below and to learn how this theorem relates to Pascal’s Triangle.

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Posted in Math

Partial function application in Python

My previous post showed how it is possible to do partial function application in C++ by using function objects. Here I’ll show how much simpler this can be done in Python. As before, we want to evaluate a function of

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Posted in Computing, Python, Software development

Functional programming in C++ with function objects

Here’s something I do all the time. I have a function of one variable and several parameters. I implement it as a function object in C++ so I can pass it on to code that does something with functions of

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Posted in Math, Software development

The probability that Shakespeare wrote a play

Some people object to asking about the probability that Shakespeare wrote this or that play. One objection is that someone has already written the play, either Shakespeare or someone else. If Shakespeare wrote it, then the probability is one that

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Posted in Statistics