Blog Archives

The Simpsons by the Data

September 28, 2016
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The Simpsons by the Data

The Simpsons needs no introduction. At 27 seasons and counting, it’s the longest-running scripted series in the history of American primetime television. The show’s longevity, and the fact that it’s animated, provides a vast and relatively unchanging universe of characters to study. It’s easier for an animated show to scale to hundreds of recurring characters; without live-action actors to grow...

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BallR: Interactive NBA Shot Charts with R and Shiny

March 8, 2016
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BallR: Interactive NBA Shot Charts with R and Shiny

The NBA’s Stats API provides data for every single shot attempted during an NBA game since 1996, including location coordinates on the court. I built a tool called BallR, using R’s Shiny framework, to explore NBA shot data at the player-level. BallR lets you select a player and season, then creates a customizable chart that shows shot...

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A Tale of Twenty-Two Million Citi Bikes: Analyzing the NYC Bike Share System

January 13, 2016
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A Tale of Twenty-Two Million Citi Bikes: Analyzing the NYC Bike Share System

In the conclusion of my post analyzing NYC taxi and Uber trips, I noted that Citi Bike, New York City’s bike share system, also releases public data, totaling 22.2 million rides from July 2013 through November 2015. With the recent news that the Citi Bike system topped 10 million rides in 2015, making it one...

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Analyzing 1.1 Billion NYC Taxi and Uber Trips, with a Vengeance

November 17, 2015
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Analyzing 1.1 Billion NYC Taxi and Uber Trips, with a Vengeance

The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission has released a staggeringly detailed historical dataset covering over 1.1 billion individual taxi trips in the city from January 2009 through June 2015. Taken as a whole, the detailed trip-level data is more than just a vast list of taxi pickup and drop off coordinates: it’s a story of New York....

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A Statistical Analysis of the LearnedLeague Trivia Competition

July 21, 2015
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A Statistical Analysis of the LearnedLeague Trivia Competition

LearnedLeague bills itself as “the greatest web-based trivia league in all of civilized earth.” Having been fortunate enough to partake in the past 3 seasons, I’m inclined to agree. LearnedLeague players, known as “LLamas”, answer trivia questions drawn from 18 assorted categories, and one of the many neat things about LearnedLeague is that it provides detailed statistics into your...

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Mortgages Are About Math: Open-Source Loan-Level Analysis of Fannie and Freddie

June 9, 2015
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Mortgages Are About Math: Open-Source Loan-Level Analysis of Fannie and Freddie

ortgages were acknowledged to be the most mathematically complex securities in the marketplace. The complexity arose entirely out of the option the homeowner has to prepay his loan; it was poetic that the single financial complexity contributed to the marketplace by the common man was the Gordian knot giving the best brains on Wall Street a run...

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The reddit Front Page is Not a Meritocracy

November 6, 2014
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The reddit Front Page is Not a Meritocracy

I was pleasantly surprised when somebody shared my traveling salesman animation to reddit and the post made it all the way to reddit's default front page (i.e. the top 25). The gif racked up over 1.3 million pageviews on Imgur, a testament to reddit's traffic-generating prowess. Before the post made it to the front page, though, it was...

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How Many Paths are Possible in an 18 Hole Round of Match Play Golf?

September 25, 2014
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How Many Paths are Possible in an 18 Hole Round of Match Play Golf?

In honor of the Ryder Cup, here's a fun puzzle for the mathematically inclined golfer to consider: how many different paths are possible in an 18 hole round of match play golf? If you'd rather not wade through the math then you can skip ahead to the "practical exploration" section of this post to see some actual match play...

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The Traveling Salesman with Simulated Annealing, R, and Shiny

September 17, 2014
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The Traveling Salesman with Simulated Annealing, R, and Shiny

I built an interactive Shiny application that uses simulated annealing to solve the famous traveling salesman problem. You can play around with it to create and solve your own tours at the bottom of this post. Here's an animation of the annealing process finding the shortest path through the 48 state capitals of the contiguous...

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Using R to Solve a Geography Puzzle

September 25, 2013
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Using R to Solve a Geography Puzzle

The puzzle: find two points inside the United States such that Both points are in the same state The straight line segment (shortest great circle) connecting them crosses the largest number of distinct states This came up during a recent road trip through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia, where I noticed that it’s possible...

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