Articles by John Mount

How robust is logistic regression?

August 23, 2012 | John Mount

Logistic Regression is a popular and effective technique for modeling categorical outcomes as a function of both continuous and categorical variables. The question is: how robust is it? Or: how robust are the common implementations? (note: we are using robust in a more standard English sense of performs well for ... [Read more...]

What does a generalized linear model do?

August 15, 2012 | John Mount

What does a generalized linear model do? R supplies a modeling function called glm() that fits generalized linear models (abbreviated as GLMs). A natural question is what does it do and what problem is it solving for you? We work some examples and place generalized linear models in context with ... [Read more...]

Modeling Trick: Masked Variables

July 1, 2012 | John Mount

A primary problem data scientists face again and again is: how to properly adapt or treat variables so they are best possible components of a regression. Some analysts at this point delegate control to a shape choosing system like neural nets. I feel such a choice gives up far too ... [Read more...]

How to outrun a crashing alien spaceship

June 11, 2012 | John Mount

Hollywood movies are obsessed with outrunning explosions and outrunning crashing alien spaceships. For explosions the movies give the optimal (but unusable) solution: run straight away. For crashing alien spaceships they give the same advice, but in this case it is wrong. We demonstrate the correct angle to flee. Running from ... [Read more...]

Selection in R

June 1, 2012 | John Mount

The design of the statistical programming language R sits in a slightly uncomfortable place between the functional programming and object oriented paradigms. The upside is you get a lot of the expressive power of both programming paradigms. A downside of this is: the not always useful variability of the language’... [Read more...]

How to remember point shape codes in R

April 24, 2012 | John Mount

I suspect I am not unique in not being able to remember how to control the point shapes in R. Part of this is a documentation problem: no package ever seems to write the shapes down. All packages just use the “usual set” that derives from S-Plus and was carried ... [Read more...]

Modeling Trick: the Signed Pseudo Logarithm

March 1, 2012 | John Mount

Much of the data that the analyst uses exhibits extraordinary range. For example: incomes, company sizes, popularity of books and any “winner takes all process”; (see: Living in A Lognormal World). Tukey recommended the logarithm as an important “stabilizing transform” (a transform that brings data into a more usable form ... [Read more...]

Why I don’t like Dynamic Typing

February 25, 2012 | John Mount

A lot of people consider the static typing found in languages such as C, C++, ML, Java and Scala as needless hairshirtism. They consider the dynamic typing of languages like Lisp, Scheme, Perl, Ruby and Python as a critical advantage (ignoring other features of these languages and other efforts at ... [Read more...]

Win-Vector starts submitting content to r-bloggers.com

August 8, 2011 | John Mount

We have been consistently impressed by and enjoyed the wealth of R wisdom available on the R-bloggers aggregation site. Therefore Win-Vector LLC is granting the right to reformat and redistribute (with attribution and link) our blog‘s R content in the R-bloggers site and feeds. We hope to see our ... [Read more...]

Programmers Should Know R

August 6, 2011 | John Mount

Programmers should definitely know how to use R. I don’t mean they should switch from their current language to R, but they should think of R as a handy tool during development.Again and again I find myself working with Java code like the following. td.linenos { background-color: #f0... [Read more...]

Your Data is Never the Right Shape

July 31, 2011 | John Mount

One of the recurring frustrations in data analytics is that your data is never in the right shape. Worst case: you are not aware of this and every step you attempt is more expensive, less reliable and less informative than you would want. Best case: you notice this and have ... [Read more...]

The cranky guide to trying R packages

February 13, 2011 | John Mount

This is a tutorial on how to try out a new package in R. The summary is: expect errors, search out errors and don’t start with the built in examples or real data. Suppose you want to try out a novel statistical technique? A good fraction of the time ... [Read more...]

Learn Logistic Regression (and beyond)

November 23, 2010 | John Mount

One of the current best tools in the machine learning toolbox is the 1930s statistical technique called logistic regression. We explain how to add professional quality logistic regression to your analytic repertoire and describe a bit beyond that. A statistical analyst working on data tends to deliberately start simple move ... [Read more...]

Must Have Software

May 28, 2010 | John Mount

Having worked with Unix (BSD, HPUX, IRIX, Linux and OSX), Windows (NT4, 2000, XP, Vista and 7) for quite a while I have seen a lot of different software tools. I would like to quickly exhibit my “must have” list. These are the packages that I find to be the single “must ... [Read more...]

R annoyances

March 20, 2010 | John Mount

Readers returning to our blog will know that Win-Vector LLC is fairly “pro-R.” You can take that to mean “in favor or R” or “professionally using R” (both statements are true). Some days we really don’t feel that way. Consider the following snippet of R code where we create ... [Read more...]

CRU graph yet again (with R)

December 13, 2009 | John Mount

IowaHawk has a excellent article attempting to reproduce the infamous CRU climate graph using OpenOffice: Fables of the Reconstruction. We thought we would show how to produced similarly bad results using R. If the re-constructed technique is close to what was originally done then so many bad moves were taken ... [Read more...]

R examine objects tutorial

November 21, 2009 | John Mount

This article is quick concrete example of how to use the techniques from Survive R to lower the steepness of The R Project for Statistical Computing‘s learning curve (so an apology to all readers who are not interested in R). What follows is for people who already use R ... [Read more...]

Survive R

September 29, 2009 | John Mount

New PDF slides version (presented at the Bay Area R Users Meetup October 13, 2009). We at Win-Vector LLC appear to like R a bit more than some of our, perhaps wiser, colleagues ( see: Choose your weapon: Matlab, R or something else? and R and data ). While we do like R (see: ... [Read more...]
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