Monthly Archives: January 2010

Biostatistics software

The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Department of Biostatistics has a software download site listing software developed by the department over many years. The home page of the download site allows you to see all products sorted by date or

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Posted in Clinical trials, Statistics

Soft maximum

In applications you often want to take the maximum of two numbers. But the simple function f(x, y) = max(x, y) can be difficult to work with because it has sharp corners. Sometimes you want an alternative that sands down

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Posted in Math

Software sins of omission

The Book of Common Prayer contains the confession … we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. The things left undone are called

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Posted in Software development

Abstractions are never perfect

Better to have a simple system than a complex system with a simple abstraction on top. Abstractions are never perfect. Every new layer creates failure points, interoperability hassles, and scalability problems. New tools can hide complexity, but they can’t justify

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Posted in Uncategorized

Camtasia as a software deployment tool

Last week .NET Rocks mentioned a good idea in passing: start a screencast tool like Camtasia before you do a software install. Michael Learned, told the story of a client that asked him to take screen shots of every step

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Posted in Software development

Do something dull

Here’s a short video from Tom Peters on starting an exciting business in a dull industry. Tom Peter’s video reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Richard Feynman: … nearly everything is really interesting if you go into

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Posted in Business, Creativity

Weekend miscellany

I accidentally pushed “publish” while I was working on this, so here’s this weekend’s miscellany post a little early. Economics Market failure and government failure If you’re paying, I’ll have top sirloin Engineering Engineering aphorisms Evolution of complex systems Math

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Better tools, less productivity?

Can better tools make you less productive? Here’s a quote from Frequently Forgotten Fundamental Facts about Software Engineering by Robert Glass: Most software tool and technique improvements account for about a 5- to 30-percent increase in productivity and quality. …

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Posted in Software development

Calendars, Connections, and Cats

James Burke had a television series Connections in which he would create a connection between two very different things. For example, in one episode he starts with the discovery of the touchstone for testing precious metals and tells a winding

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Posted in Math, Music

How the central limit theorem began

The Central Limit Theorem says that if you average enough independent copies of a random variable, the result has a nearly normal (Gaussian) distribution. Of course that’s a very rough statement of the theorem. What are the precise requirements of

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Posted in Statistics

Regular expressions in R

Notes on using regular expressions in R. R uses POSIX regular expression syntax by default but you can ask it to use Perl’s flavor of regular expressions. Related links: Regular expressions in C++, Mathematica, Python, R, PowerShell R for programmers

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Posted in Uncategorized

Regular expressions in Mathematica

Regular expressions are fairly portable. There are two main flavors of regular expressions — POSIX and Perl — and more languages these days use the Perl flavor. There are some minor differences in what it means to be “like Perl”

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2010 calendar of lost mathematical art

Rod Carvalho wrote a post this morning announcing a beautiful 2010 calendar created by Ron Doerfler. Doerfler’s blog is entitled Dead Reckonings: Lost Art in the Mathematical Sciences. The calendar is an example of such lost art. It is illustrated

Posted in Graphics, Math

Weekend miscellany

Smashing Magazine highlights (design) Top 10 algorithms of the 20th century 75 Online resources for geeks Why your boss is incompetent (Peter Principle revisited) Visualizing word frequency in the Bible (word clouds) How to tell when you’re on a sinking

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