‘The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't ’ by Nate Silver
Nate Silver is a well known statistician who has reached near rock-star status, appearing on the Daily Show twice in the last 4 weeks. He is currently very famous for predicting the USA elections results correctly - for all 50 states. Trying to bridge the knowledge gap between the public, the complex problems we tackle to try to better understand the world , and the methods used for this purpose is important to many statisticians, and Nate Silver's book is a great effort in that direction. Read the New York Time's review here, or get it on ebay here. If you want to read more for free, here is a link to his Blog, which currently contains some great graphics and statistics on the US elections.
November 12, 2012
Bayesians VS Frequentists (click to see)
One of the lattest XKCD comics hits close to home... A fun little light hearted cartoon depicting this rift in statistics, worth a look for a laugh. XKCD is a cartoon popular amongs maths/physics/computer science.
Academy welcomes science, maths education Budget boost
The Australian Academy of Science today welcomed Budget measures to protect Australian research and boost science and maths education.
The Government has announced an extra $54 million over four years will go to improving participation in the study of science and mathematics at school and university.
This includes $5 million over four years to the Academy’s primary and junior secondary school science programs, Primary Connections and Science by Doing.
“We warmly welcome the announcement of new funding for our proven programs, which are so important at a time when Australian school students’ interest and participation in science is in steady decline,” Professor Cory said.
“The Academy is also pleased to see a range of other initiatives to improve science and maths education arising from the Chief Scientist’s influential report, Mathematics, engineering and science in the national interest.
“The Government has shown strong leadership in recognising the importance to the future prosperity of the country of investing in research, innovation and science and maths education.”
The Academy also welcomed the continuation and indexation of supplementary funding to enable the Learned Academies to continue driving excellence in science and innovation.
“However it is disappointing that, after winding up the International Science Linkages program last year, the Government has ignored the Academy’s call to establish a strategic program to support Australian science internationally,” Professor Cory said.
Ticks and crosses for the science Budget:
- $over 4 years for improving participation in school and university science and maths, including…
- $5m over 4 years for Primary Connections and Science by Doing
- $4.4m annually to support the 4 Academies to drive excellence in science and innovation
- Maintain ARC and NHMRC research funding
- No strat54m egic international science collaborations program
- Uncertainty over funding for national research infrastructure (National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme)
Contact: Kylie Walker 0405 229 152 firstname.lastname@example.org
Grading bias cause of aparent gender inequality
An american study by the University of Austin analysing data from the Educational Longitudinal Study in 2002 has recently dismantled the myth that girls' math skills are less than boys, finding that the same test from a girl tended to receive lower grades than their male counterparts. These findings are published in Gender and Society (GENDSOC, April 2012).
April 18, 2012
A museum in your lap, for free
IBM releases its first iPad App, "Minds of modern mathematics" which recreates a 50-foot exhibition from 1961 called "Mathematica", exploring the history of maths for 1000 years. A beautiful and practical way to learn a little or a lot!
April 10, 2012
Teaching Modern Data Analysis in Schools
An article from the Royal Statistical Society explaining the importance of teaching computational statistics in schools. Specifically methods for dealing with large, complex datasets; failing to do so will lead to more and more errors in analysis with far reaching consequences in many facets of government and society, such as mistakes in policy development and inadequate responses to new information. The report stresses the importance of including computer programming in the curriculum; a strong combination of statistics and computing being the foundations of most data analysis today.
April 5, 2012
A new show on set to air next month on the History Channel will introduce the public to the fascinating history of statistics. Hosted by stand up comedians and identical twins Randy and Jason Sklar, it plans to use cutting edge animation and a lighthearted entertaining presentation to bring to life some of the most interesting stories behind statistics. Generously scattered with surprising anecdotes (such as that the most likely animal to kill you in America is a deer!) it will reveal statistics' involvement in today's important issues and expose viewers to critical thinking and logical analysis.
April 4, 2012
SCIENCE PAYS OFF!!! A 4.7% average pay rise in 2011 beats miners and suits – we are now the fastest growing industry in Australia!
Breaking news! It doesnt get much better than this, with scientists receiving the largest pay rises last year over all other industries. And the best state to be a scientist? Queensland!
Better, more individualized modelling of weight loss could tilt the scales in the battle against obesity
Many factors influence the success of weight loss programs on individuals; the same routine will yield wildly different results given the person's age, current weight, etc.. By incorporating this information in both individual level and policy level decisions, drastic improvements in obesity management could be effectuated.
Climate change critic feels the heat – facing charges of plagiarism
The shoe is on the other foot for science critic Edward Wegman who is currently facing charges of plagiarism from George Mason University. He was the author of a report criticising climate scientists for excessive collaboration and for using faulty statistical techniques, which was found to contain large sections lifted from textbooks and even Wikipedia.
Parrot amazes all with adding skills
Alex the Parrot may have passed away, but his fame lives on as his prowess continue to be publishes. By the time he passed away he could add up to 8, matching chimpanzees in
14/02/2012 Mathematicians at the heart of Elsevier boycott
Over 5000 researchers have now joined a boycott of the publisher Elsevier, which was started by Cambridge mathematician Timothy Gowers (see the blog post here). 34 leading mathematicians, including three Field's Medallists, released a statement as of last week laying out their concerns. This article contains more information on this matter, for your interest.
Main protest Site: http://thecostofknowledge.
14/02/2012 Growing demand for Data Scientists outstrips supply; predicted to hold for at least next 5 years!
Great news for Statisticians and students alike; the exponentially growing volumes of data we can now collect and store have created a huge need for Data Scientists to deal with and make full use of this information. While the field is currently dominated by computer science graduates, statisticians play an increasingly important and in demand role as we can deal with data using increasingly sophisticated methods specific to an issue, for example, create algorithms to deal with messy data, complex relationships, and exploring data to find unexpected patterns, problems, and other features. See the original article here; a nice visual representation of the current situation can be found here.
14/02/2012 Australian school students NOT losing interest in Science!
Statistics shoots itself in the foot: Simple adding mistake in Australian education study causes official report of a near 50% drop of enrolment in science!
A major study which assesses the state of the educational system for Year 11 and 12 high school students reported a drastic drop in the level of interest in Science in high schools in 2011. Further explorations of the data (see this article) has shown that inconsistencies in the tabulation of the data caused this highly inflated value to be reported. This has had dramatic impacts on the educational world, causing losses in university funding and high school programs due to the apparent lack of interest in maths and science, as well as to the curriculum; Recommendations from the report include to “Reduce the amount of content for science subjects to a realistic level”.
Original Report, Original Data
11/01/2012 'Data Deluge' named theme for 2012 Math's Awareness Month
Recognizing the rapidly rising importance and sheer volume of data being created, stored, and analysed in today’s world, the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics declared today the theme for this year’s Maths Awareness month in April to be “Mathematics, Statistics, and the Data Deluge”. http://www.mathaware.org
11/01/2012 New Zealand working to improve Africa's Statistics Education
Otago University lecturer and president of the International Association for Statistical Edication John Harraway is working to improve Africa's statistics education using new approaches. Click Here for more on this great venture which aims to give developing countries the statistical repertoire required to grow ecomomically and simultaneously understand the environmental impacts of such growth, among other things.
11/01/2012 Statistics saves the day in new Hollywood flick Moneyball...
Stats just became a lot cooler with Brad Pitt's latest film 'Moneyball' hitting the big screen! Based on the world of sports statistics and baseball, maths saves the day as usual but for once someone notices... Click here for IMDB listing.
11/01/2012 Mapping technologies a very profitable venture!
Take a PhD project on the mathematics of war; apply it to analysing the history and growth of technology; add data, stir. Voila, a brilliant business idea Sir.... This is essentially what a company called Quib has done, using a huge database to allow users to create and manipulate “data-driven “maps” of an entire technology sector’s past, present and even future”. Among other things, this allows companies and entrepreneurs to identify gaps in the market or potential combinations of technologies which have not been explored yet, as well as highlighting saturated parts of the market and innovation process. A great system which Quib has been able to price accordingly; averaging at million dollars a year, it’s not for everyone. read the full article here
11/01/2012 Statisticians: can't live with them, probably shouldn't use advanced analysis software without them....
This article provides a nice little argument explaining why companies still need statisticians even now with fancy analysis software. Includes a lovely real-life example where an employee was accused of theft based on faulty analysis, and sued the company using Bayes’ Rule to show his (probable) innocence.
08/12/2011 Urgent boost needed for science and maths education
The Australian Academy of Science today urged the Federal Government to redouble its efforts to attract and retain university students in science and mathematics. To read the complete media release, please click here.