Monthly Archives: November 2009

Please press 3

“For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press 3.” — Alice Kahn

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A case for robust Bayesian priors

A paper I wrote with Jairo Fúquene and Luis Pericchi is now available online. A Case for Robust Bayesian Priors with Applications to Clinical Trials Jairo Fúquene, John Cook, and Luis Pericchi Bayesian Analysis (2009) 4, Number 4, pp. 817–846.

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Posted in Clinical trials

Travels with Charley

Over the Thanksgiving break I read Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck’s book about his trip across America in 1961 with his French poodle Charley. I had been interested in reading the book since I saw it quoted in Dave Gibson’s

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Thanksgiving weekend miscellany

Scott Hanselman has an interesting interview with James Marcus Bach, author of Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar. Bach lives Mark Twain’s advice to never let school interfere with your education. After listening to the interview, I enjoyed reading Bach’s book. ***

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A beta-like distribution

I just stumbled across a distribution that approximates the beta distribution but is easier to work with in some ways. It’s called the Kumaraswamy distribution. Apparently it came out of hydrology. The graph below plots the density of the distribution

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Posted in Statistics

Thomas Edison's fire

When Thomas Edison was sixty-seven years old, his factory was destroyed in a fire. This was his response the next morning: There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew. Related posts: Questioning

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Posted in Creativity

It doesn't pay to be the computer guy

This weekend I ran across a post by Shaun Boyd called Ten reasons it doesn’t pay to be the computer guy. He begins with the observation that if you’re “the computer guy,” most of your accomplishments are invisible. Nobody consciously

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Posted in Business, Computing

Weekend miscellany

Leaf art 3435 = 33 + 44 + 33 + 55 Why experts are morons Math Teachers at Play #20 Passion as a competitive advantage The 40-30-30 rule: Why risk is worth it A regular expression to check for prime

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Tragedy of the anti-commons

The tragedy of the commons is the name economists use to describe the abuse of common property. For example, overfishing in international waters. Someone who owns a lake will not over fish his own lake because he knows he will

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Posted in Business

Random inequalities IX: new tech report

Just posted: Exact calculation of inequality probabilities. This report summarizes previous results for calculating P(X > Y) where X and Y are random variables. Previous posts on random inequalities: Introduction Analytical results Numerical results Cauchy distributions Beta distributions Gamma distributions

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Posted in Math

Three quotes on software development

Here are three quotes on software development I ran across yesterday. From Douglas Crockford, author of JavaScript, The Good Parts: Just because something is a standard it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every application (e.g. XML). From Yukihiro

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Posted in Software development

Office 2007 documents are zipped XML

Microsoft Office 2007 documents are zipped XML files. For example, you can change a Word document’s extension from .docx to .zip and unzip it. Apparently this isn’t widely known; most people I talk to are surprised when I mention this.

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Posted in Computing

Subnatural and supernatural

I recently ran across a discussion of quantum mechanics from C. S. Lewis. The older scientists believed that the smallest particles of matter moved according to strict laws: in other words, that the movements of each particle were “interlocked” with

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Posted in Science

PyIMSL now free for non-commercial use

Visual Numerics announced today that their PyIMSL Studio is now free for non-commercial use. PyIMSL contains Python wrappers for the IMSL scientific computing library and integrates with NumPy, matplotlib, etc. Related links: Getting started with SciPy IEEE floating point arithmetic

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Transaction costs

“If you make $30 per hour, you should outsource everything you do that you could hire someone else to do for less than $30.”  Rubbish. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this advice. It sounds good, for about

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Posted in Business