Monthly Archives: October 2009

Weekend miscellany

Two links on naked mole rats and cancer The only animal that doesn’t get cancer Kim Possible and cancer research Three links on software development, academia, and industry C. A. R. Hoare retropective on programming William Cook banquet speech The

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Student-t as a mixture of normals

You can express a Student-t distribution as a continuous mixture of normal distributions. Some properties of the t distribution are easier to prove in this form. Here are notes with details. I ran across this tidbit reading Bayesian Data Analysis

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Posted in Math, Statistics

Listening to music with your whole body

Amazing presentation from Evelyn Glennie, a deaf percussionist.

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Posted in Music

Simple backup software

I was asking about backup software for Windows the other day and a couple people recommended Cobian Backup. It’s simple to use, but also very configurable. And it’s free. You can have the software simply copy files or you can

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Posted in Computing

How to test a random number generator

Random number generators are challenging to test. The output is supposed to be unpredictable, so how do you know when the generator working correctly? Your tests will fail occasionally, but how do you decide whether they’re failing too often? What

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Posted in Software development

Bayesian clinical trials in one zip code

I recently ran across this quote from Mithat Gönen of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: While there are certainly some at other centers, the bulk of applied Bayesian clinical trial design in this country is largely confined to a single zip

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Posted in Clinical trials

Shallow bugs versus reported bugs

The open source community has a saying: With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow. When enough people look at a piece of code, someone is going find and fix the bugs. A related principle is that with enough users, all

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Posted in Computing, Software development

How to differentiate a non-differentiable function

How can we extend the idea of derivative so that more functions are differentiable? Why would we want to do so? How can we make sense of a delta “function” that isn’t really a function? We’ll answer these questions in

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Posted in Math

Weekend miscellany

Polar coordinates and cardioid microphones Why white wine goes with fish The six dumbest ideas in computer security Time scales in user experience 50 years of space exploration Personal productivity advice from Marc Andreessen

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Reviewing catch blocks

Here’s an interesting exercise. If you’re writing code in a language like C# or C++ that has catch statements, write a script to report all catch blocks. You might be surprised at what you find. Some questions to ask: Do

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Posted in Software development

Normal tail probability bounds

Here are some notes on upper and lower bounds on the probability P(Z > t) for a standard normal random random variable Z. I wrote up these notes to settle a issue that came up in a probability class I’m

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Posted in Math, Statistics

Worthless technical books

I sold six technical books to a used book store on the way home today. The store paid me $5 total for four of the books. Two books they didn’t want at all. The books were not that old, but

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Posted in Computing

Book review: Trade-Off

I enjoyed listening to Moira Gunn’s interview with Kevin Maney, author of the new book Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t. The book was a little disappointing after listening to the interview. I felt I had heard

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Posted in Business

A sort of opposite of Parkinson's Law

Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to the time allowed. I’ve seen that play out over and over. However, I’ve also seen a sort of opposite of Parkinson’s Law. Sometimes work gets done faster when you have more time for

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Posted in Creativity

Weekend miscellany

The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery free book Beautiful Testing has gone to press. Should be in bookstores by October 30. Placebos have side effects too 10/GUI prototype for human-computer interaction Math Teachers at Play #17. This is a much

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