Monthly Archives: December 2012

The smallest uninteresting number and fuzzy logic

I’ve tried to think of something interesting about the number 2013 and haven’t come up with anything. This reminds me of the interesting number paradox. Theorem: All positive integers are interesting. Proof: Let n be the smallest uninteresting positive integer.

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Extreme change is easier

This last week I ran across a TED video about a couple who had a house full of stuff and $18,000 in debt. They sold all their stuff except what could fit in a couple bags and went backpacking in

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Top five posts of 2012

These were the most popular posts here this last year. Nobody’s going to steal your idea Bicycle skills Unix doesn’t follow the Unix philosophy 100x better approach to software A knight’s random walk

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Ideas for blog posts

When George Will began his career as a syndicated columnist, he asked his editor William Buckley how he could ever come up with two columns per week. Buckley replied that at least twice a week something would annoy him [Will],

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Lucky house prices

Here’s an interesting tidbit on the least significant digits of house prices. In Nevada, the last non-zero number in the selling price of a house is a lucky seven 37 percent more often than in the rest of the country.

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Napier's mnemonic

John Napier (1550–1617) discovered a way to reduce 10 equations in spherical trig down to 2 equations and to make them easier to remember. Draw a right triangle on a sphere and label the sides a, b, and c where

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Spotting sensitivity in an equation

The new book Heavenly Mathematics describes in the first chapter how the medieval scholar Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī calculated the earth’s radius. The derivation itself is interesting, but here I want to expand on a parenthetical remark about the calculation. The

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My Channel 9 interview from Brisbane

Here’s an interview I did with Microsoft Channel 9 right after my talk in Brisbane. You can find the interview in multiple audio and video formats on Channel 9.

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Basics of Sweave and Pweave

Sweave is a tool for embedding R code in a LaTeX file. Pweave is an analogous tool for Python. By putting your code in your document rather than the results of running your code somewhere else, results are automatically recomputed

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Beethoven, Beatles, and Beyoncé: more on the Lindy effect

This post is a set of footnotes to my previous post on the Lindy effect. This effect says that creative artifacts have lifetimes that follow a power law distribution, and hence the things that have been around the longest have

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The value of typing code

Tommy Nicholas recently wrote a blog post advocating typing rather than copying-and-pasting code samples. I thought this was the most interesting paragraph from the post: When Hunter S. Thompson was working as a copy boy at Time Magazine in 1959,

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The Lindy effect

The longer a technology has been around, the longer it’s likely to stay around. This is a consequence of the Lindy effect. Nassim Taleb describes this effect in Antifragile but doesn’t provide much mathematical detail. Here I’ll fill in some

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Small batch sizes II

A few days ago I wrote about an example from a presentation by Don Reinertsen on the benefits of small batch sizes. Nassim Taleb brings up similar ideas in Antifragile. He opens one chapter with the following rabbinical story. A

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Most popular pages

Here are the most popular pages on my web site that are not blog posts. Programming language notes: R programming for those coming from other languages PowerShell Cookbook Regular expressions in PowerShell and Perl C++ TR1 regular expressions IEEE floating-point

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Two views of modernity

Here are a couple descriptions of modernity that I’ve run across lately and found interesting. First, from Eva Brann: Now what is actually meant by “modern times?” The term cannot just mean “contemporary” because all times are con-temporary with themselves.

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