Blog Archives

Exploring US healthcare data

April 13, 2014
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A few days ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released some unprecedented data on the US healthcare system. The data consists of 9 million rows showing how much each doctor in the US charged Medicare, for what, and how much Medicare paid out. It doesn't quite cover everything (for example, services with less than 11...

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What makes us happy? Let’s look at data to find out.

November 13, 2013
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What makes us happy?  Let’s look at data to find out.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the past 4 years, and I’ve had some incredible experiences along the way. Lately, I’ve been struggling with what to do next. Or perhaps more accurately, I’ve been struggling with how to de...

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The power, and danger, of visualizations

August 7, 2013
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The power, and danger, of visualizations

I recently posted about visualizing the voting patterns of senators. In the post, I scraped voting data for each senator on every vote in the 113th Congress from the Senate website, and then assigned a code of 0 for a no vote on a particular issue, 1 for a yes vote, 2 for abstention, and 3 if...

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How divided is the Senate?

July 29, 2013
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How divided is the Senate?

I very seldom pay attention to politics directly, because politics have always seemed a bit circular and cyclical to me. Most of the political news that I take in ends up worming its way into the news sources that I do consume, like the excellent longform.org. Even given my limited intake of political news, one trend...

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Programming instrumental music from scratch

July 29, 2013
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Programming instrumental music from scratch

I recently posted about automatically making music. The algorithm that I made pulled out interesting sequences of music from existing songs and remixed them. While this worked reasonably well, it also didn’t have full control over the basics of the music; it wasn’t actually specifying which instruments to use, or what notes to play. Maybe I’m being...

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Evolve your own beats: automatically generating music via algorithms

July 26, 2013
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Evolve your own beats: automatically generating music via algorithms

I recently went to an excellent music meetup where people spoke about the intersection of music and technology. One speaker in particular talked about how music is now being generated by computer. Music has always fascinated me. It can make us feel emotions in a way few media can. Sadly, I have always been unable...

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Making infographics using R and Inkscape

July 24, 2013
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Making infographics using R and Inkscape

I have been making charts with R for almost as long as I have been using R, and with good reason: R is an amazing tool for filtering and visualizing data. With R, and particularly if we use the excellent ggplot2 library, we can go from raw data to compelling visualization in minutes. But what if we want...

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Do the Simpsons characters like each other?

July 21, 2013
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Do the Simpsons characters like each other?

One day, while I was walking around Cambridge, I had a random thought — how do the characters on the Simpsons feel about each other? It doesn’t take long to figure out how Homer feels about Flanders (hint: he doesn’t always like him), or how Burns feels about everyone, but how does Marge feel about Bart? ...

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Using the power of sound to figure out which Simpsons character is speaking

July 18, 2013
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Using the power of sound to figure out which Simpsons character is speaking

In a previous post, I looked at transcripts of Simpsons episodes and tried to figure out which character was speaking which line. This worked decently, but it wasn’t great. It gave us memorable scenes like this one: Homer : D'oh! A deer! A female deer. Marge : Son, you're okay! Bart : Dad, I can't let...

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Figuring out which Simpsons character is speaking

July 17, 2013
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Figuring out which Simpsons character is speaking

You probably have a favorite Simpsons character. Maybe you hope to someday block out the sun, Mr. Burns style, maybe you enjoy Homer’s skill in averting meltdowns, or maybe you identify with Lisa’s struggles for acceptance. Through its ch...

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