Blog Archives

The hat trick

July 3, 2013
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The hat trick

In his book Quantum Computing Since Democritus, Scott Aaronson poses the following question: Suppose that you’re at a party where every guest is given a hat as they walk in. Each hat has either a pineapple or a watermelon on top, picked at random with equal probability. The guests don’t get to see the fruit

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Uncovering the Unreliable Friend Distribution

May 30, 2013
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Uncovering the Unreliable Friend Distribution

Head down to your local hardware store and pick up a smoke detector. Pop off the cover and look inside. You’ll see a label that mentions Americium 241, a radioactive isotope. Put on your HEV suit, grab a pair of tweezers and a fine-tipped pen, and remove the 0.3 millionths of a gram of Americium.

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High Obesity levels found among fat-tailed distributions

April 11, 2013
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High Obesity levels found among fat-tailed distributions

In my never ending quest to find the perfect measure of tail fatness, I ran across this recent paper by Cooke, Nieboer, and Misiewicz. They created a measure called the “Obesity index.” Here’s how it works: Step 1: Sample four times from a distribution. The sample points should be independent and identically distributed (did your

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Review of Mathematica 9 and R-link

March 18, 2013
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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello, this is Matt Asher from StatisticsBlog.com. I’m going to be reviewing Mathematica 9, from Wolfram Research. In particular, I’ll be focusing on using it with R and to do Monte Carlo simulations and other statistical work. You can find a full transcript of this video at my blog, including the source code

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Statistical computation in JavaScript — am I nuts?

February 28, 2013
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Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been considering alternatives to R. I’d heard Python was much faster, so I translated a piece of R code with several nested loops into Python (it ran an order of magnitude faster). To find out more about Mathematica 9, I had an extended conversation with some representatives from Wolfram

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What’s my daughter listening to? HTML chart gen in R

February 22, 2013
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  My daughter, who turns 10 in April, has discovered pop music. She’s been listing to Virgin Radio 99.9, one of our local stations. Virgin provides an online playlist that goes back four days, so I scraped the data and brought it into R. The chart shown at top shows all of the songs played

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Population simulation leads to Valentine’s Day a[R]t

February 14, 2013
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Population simulation leads to Valentine’s Day a[R]t

Working on a quick-and-dirty simulation of people wandering around until they find neighbors, then settling down. After playing with the coloring a bit I arrived at the above image, which I quite like. Code below: # Code by Matt Asher for statisticsblog.com # Feel free to modify and redistribute, but please keep this notice  

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Landmine detection revisited; the inverse unicorn problem

February 4, 2013
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Landmine detection revisited; the inverse unicorn problem

A couple weeks ago I wrote about an interesting idea to clear landmines using the power of the wind. A reader asked me to comment more on the value of using these wind-powered “Kafons” to do an initial assay of a suspected minefield, an idea I mentioned at the end of my video on the

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Fake text generation the wrong way, and a contest

January 23, 2013
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As part of a bigger project, I needed to simulate a text string based on a source document, but at the character level. Just in case people find the code useful, I’ve uploaded it to MCMCtext.r. In my simulated text, each character is chosen based on the transition probabilities in the source text from one

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Simulation of landmine clearing with Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon

January 10, 2013
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Simulation of landmine clearing with Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon

Code used: MineClearingSimulationWithKafons.r TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO: Hello, I’m Matt Asher with StatisticsBlog.com. This video is about my attempt to simulate a landmine clearing device built by Massoud Hassani called the Mine Kafon. I’ve put a link to his webpage at StatisticsBlog.com, I highly recommend checking out the video. Hassani’s device looks like this: It’s a

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