That title is a truly horrifying combination of words.
SpaceX just released the ISS Docking Simulator, a browser game where the objective is to very slowly fly the Crew Dragon 2 to dock with the International Space Station, just like the real mission is scheduled to next week. Given that a significant portion of my early teens was wasted on just the free demo of Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, I had to play it. The... Read More
Boolean logic is one of the foundational abstractions in computer science, from electrical circuits to programming languages. In Boolean logic, all variables take one of two values: 1/0, high/low, or TRUE/FALSE. However, many practical situations require the inclusion of a third value to indicate a variable is unknown, missing, or both false and true at the same time: usually something like
This leads to a complication: for two-valued logic there’s a... Read More
Neural networks! They’re everywhere! Can you use them for everything? Do they have anything to do with brains? Are they Skynet or just fancy regression? Let’s find out!
One of the best ways to demystify something is to build it yourself. On the other hand, one of the best ways to re-mystify it is to obfuscate the code you wrote. So I set myself the challenge of implementing a neural network from scratch which fits exactly in... Read More
I don’t quite get this article by Robert Gebelhoff at the Washington Post.
Sure, there are well-known pressures on academics to publish significant results, and also to get media attention. But those are conceptually distinct issues. Publication bias (and related problems like p-hacking and the Garden of Forking Paths) tend to inflate the statistical significance of published results. But that’s not related to the substantive significance of the results, to how interesting the questions being answered are. Solving publication... Read More
Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen write in the New York Times that US primary and general elections would be more fair if the winner always commanded an absolute majority of the popular vote. Perhaps, but as it currently stands, neither party nominations nor Presidential elections are actually decided by the popular vote. Even if Maskin and Sen’s criteria were satisfied — and a Presidential candidate’s state victories were all absolute majorities — that candidate could still technically win a... Read More
For some reason, there isn’t a default way to embed a local video file in a jupyter notebook.
If you’re using a python kernel, you can make use of this hack, which inserts the whole video, base64-encoded, into the generated HTML. But because this runs in a code block, not a markdown block, it’s dependent on the kernel you’re running. Notebooks only support one kernel, so if the rest of your code is R, you’ll need an R version.... Read More
Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.
— Terry Pratchett, Mort
If Vigo County, IN is a bellwether for US Presidential elections, then so is Valencia County, NM.
And York County, ME; Racine County, WI; and Strafford County, NH.
Besides which, we shouldn’t expect any of them to continue getting it right.
# Background... Read More
Samuel Arbesman over at Aeon has written an article claiming that we don’t understand what our computers are doing because computing is too easy. I’m not so sure that’s the problem.
The machine I’m currently sitting at is a mid-2014 Retina MacBook Pro, running OS X Mavericks. Until a few days ago, it was the cutting-edge of Apple’s laptop lineup.
And yet, I’m writing this blog post using Vim — a 23-year-old... Read More