Blog Archives

Mortgage Refinance Calculator

December 20, 2011
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Mortgage Refinance Calculator

Mortgage rates are low, considering historical rates for the last 50 years. It may be timely to consider a mortgage refinance. The image above links to a simple tool for exploring mortgage refinance, built using rapache and the yet-to-be-archived yarr package for R. Hence, there are now two mortgage-related calculators on this site: MortCalc: A

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New Powerball (lottery) Rules Will Cost You More

December 16, 2011
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The popular news are reporting that the Multi-State Lottery Commission (MUSL) will change the rules for their lottery game Powerball, effective Jan. 15, 2012. I sent an email to the MUSL (at 8:00am Dec, 14th) asking for the new official rules, but haven't received a response yet (as of 10:30am Dec, 16th). Hence, these

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Misleading Statistics: Too much risk without a financial adviser?

November 22, 2011
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Misleading Statistics: Too much risk without a financial adviser?

This popular article references a report by financial consulting firms that makes a fairly convincing argument (even though they mostly neglect inferential statistics, and some parts of their argument are misleading, or otherwise not convincing) that 401(k) participants who accept "help" from financial experts take less risk and have better returns than those who do

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Why balloons are better than balls (in urn schemes)

November 18, 2011
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The below is taken from a work in progress: The Polya urn is a heuristic associated with Dirichlet process mixtures. We present the scheme in a modified format, using balloons instead of balls, where the probability of drawing a balloon from the urn is proportional to its volume. Balloons are preferred because their volume may

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Bayesian vs. Frequentist Intervals: Which are more natural to scientists?

November 17, 2011
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I don't know, of course, because the evidence at hand is based on my experience. But, I'll leave the reader to consider whether these observations generalize. Proponents of Bayesian statistical inference argue that Bayesian credible intervals are more intuitive than the frequentist confidence intervals, because the Bayesian inference is a probability statement about a parameter.

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Parameter vs. Observation Dimension?

October 24, 2011
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Parameter vs. Observation Dimension?

Bill Bolstad's response to Xi'an's review of his book Understanding Computational Bayesian Statistics included the following comment, which I found interesting: Frequentist p-values are constructed in the parameter dimension using a probability distribution defined only in the observation dimension. Bayesian credible intervals are constructed in the parameter dimension using a probability distribution in the parameter

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Another Mystery: sas7bdat != sd2

October 14, 2011
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I received an email from a very inconvenienced statistician a few weeks ago. The problem was an old data file with the extension .sd2. Apparently, this is an obsolete data storage format used by past versions of SAS. A quick glance at the file contents revealed that this sd2 formatted file is incompatible with the

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A Note on Antoniak’s Approximation for Dirichlet Processes

September 21, 2011
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A Note on Antoniak’s Approximation for Dirichlet Processes

Antoniak's 1974 article titled Mixtures of Dirichlet Processes with Applications to Bayesian Nonparametric Problems (Annals of Statistics 2(6):1152-1174) is a fundamental work for most modern developments in this area. The article gives two expressions for the expected number of distinct values in a sample of size n, drawn from a Dirichlet process-distributed probability distribution with

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More sas7bdat progress

September 13, 2011
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The development version of the read.sas7bdat function (in the sas7bdat package) now reads field labels and formats. In addition, errors of the type "found <x> <type> subheaders where 1 expected" are now a thing of the past. These improvements are largely due to work by Clint Cummins. The function also works on some files generated

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The Open Governance Index: Results for The R Project

August 24, 2011
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Just over two weeks ago, I invited readers to complete the Open Governance Index (OGI) Questionnaire regarding The R Project. The OGI evaluates several facets of governance in open source projects (OGI publication). The OGI questionnaire is reproduced below, and each question is linked from the table of useR responses. The table below presents the

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