Monthly Archives: February 2010

Weekend miscellany

International Israeli web design North Korean propaganda Computing What really happens when you navigate a URL Seven deadly sins of JavaScript implementation Gallery of processor cache effects The R type system Math Math symbols in HTML How to solve quadratic

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The Law of Medium Numbers

There’s a law of large numbers, a law of small numbers, and a law of medium numbers in between. The law of large numbers is a mathematical theorem. It describes what happens as you average more and more random variables.

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Posted in Science

Underwhelmed with progress

Virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier writes in his book You Are Not a Gadget about the lack of creativity in our use of computing power. Let’s suppose that back in the 1980s I had said, “In a quarter century, when

Posted in Computing

Something like a random sequence but …

When people ask for a random sequence, they’re often disappointed with what they get. Random sequences clump more than most folks expect. For graphical applications, quasi-random sequence may be more appropriate.These sequences are “more random than random” in the sense

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Posted in Clinical trials

Random improvisation subjects

Destination ImagiNation is a non-profit organization that encourages student creativity. This is my family’s first year to participate in DI and it has been a lot of fun. One of the things that impresses me most about DI is that

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Posted in Python

Weekend miscellany

Music The night I met Einstein Copyright Copyright reform act Computing Code Myopia Probability distributions in Excel Top 25 most dangerous programming errors When open source is no longer the underdog What does functional programming mean? Math Why sin(11) is

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Popular research areas produce more false results

The more active a research area is, the less reliable its results are. John Ioannidis suggested popular areas of research publish a greater proportion of false results in his paper Why most published research findings are false. Of course popular

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Posted in Science, Statistics

“Noncommercial” is fuzzy

It is common for software, photos, and other creative works to be free for noncommercial use. I appreciate the generosity of those who want to give away their creations, and I appreciate the business savvy of those who see giving

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Posted in Business

Economizing approximations

The most obvious approximation may not be the best. But sometimes a small change to an obvious approximation can make it better approximation. This post gives an example illustrating this point.

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Posted in Math

Self-sufficiency is the road to poverty

In his podcast Roberts on Smith, Ricardo, and Trade, Russ Roberts states that self-sufficiency is the road to poverty. Roberts elaborates on the economic theories of Adam Smith and David Ricardo to explain how specialization and trade create wealth and

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Posted in Business

Statistical functions in Excel

Depending on your expectations, you may have different reactions to the statistical function support in Excel. If you expect anything similar to a statistical package, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you think of Excel as a spreadsheet for everybody

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Posted in Computing

Top four LaTeX mistakes

Here are four of the most common typesetting errors I see in books and articles created with LaTeX. 1) Quotes Quotation marks in LaTeX files begin with two back ticks, “, and end with two single quotes, ”. The first

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Posted in Typography

Weekend miscellany

Design Ideation and design thinking podcast Arial versus Helvetica Science Photographic periodic table An alternative to Occam’s razor Computer science Lessons from studying a few billion lines of code 50 free computer science courses online Business If your product is

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Euclid’s proof that there are infinitely many primes

Paul Erdős had this notion that God kept a book of the best proofs. Erdős called God’s book simply “the book.” Springer recently published Proofs from THE BOOK, a collection of elegant proofs that the authors suppose might be in

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Posted in Math

A book so good I had to put it down

“I couldn’t put it down.”  “A real page-turner.” That’s how you might describe a good novel to take on vacation. But for more serious reading, a good book is one you have to put down. Thoreau put it this way:

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Posted in Creativity