11502
[1409.4813] Identification of core-periphery structure in networks
"Many networks can be usefully decomposed into a dense core plus an outlying, loosely-connected periphery. Here we propose an algorithm for performing such a decomposition on empirical network data using methods of statistical inference. Our method fits a generative model of core-periphery structure to observed data using a combination of an expectation--maximization algorithm for calculating the parameters of the model and a belief propagation algorithm for calculating the decomposition itself. We find the method to be efficient, scaling easily to networks with a million or more nodes and we test it on a range of networks, including real-world examples as well as computer-generated benchmarks, for which it successfully identifies known core-periphery structure with low error rate. We also demonstrate that the method is immune from the detectability transition observed in the related community detection problem, which prevents the detection of community structure when that structure is too weak. There is no such transition for core-periphery structure, which is detectable, albeit with some statistical error, no matter how weak it is."
to:NB  network_data_analysis  statistics  em_algorithm  kith_and_kin  newman.mark 
17 hours ago
Maximum likelihood inference of reticulate evolutionary histories
"Hybridization plays an important role in the evolution of certain groups of organisms, adaptation to their environments, and diversification of their genomes. The evolutionary histories of such groups are reticulate, and methods for reconstructing them are still in their infancy and have limited applicability. We present a maximum likelihood method for inferring reticulate evolutionary histories while accounting simultaneously for incomplete lineage sorting. Additionally, we propose methods for assessing confidence in the amount of reticulation and the topology of the inferred evolutionary history. Our method obtains accurate estimates of reticulate evolutionary histories on simulated datasets. Furthermore, our method provides support for a hypothesis of a reticulate evolutionary history inferred from a set of house mouse (Mus musculus) genomes. As evidence of hybridization in eukaryotic groups accumulates, it is essential to have methods that infer reticulate evolutionary histories. The work we present here allows for such inference and provides a significant step toward putting phylogenetic networks on par with phylogenetic trees as a model of capturing evolutionary relationships."
to:NB  evolutionary_biology  statistics  phylogenetics 
19 hours ago
Spatial embedding of structural similarity in the cerebral cortex
"Recent anatomical tracing studies have yielded substantial amounts of data on the areal connectivity underlying distributed processing in cortex, yet the fundamental principles that govern the large-scale organization of cortex remain unknown. Here we show that functional similarity between areas as defined by the pattern of shared inputs or outputs is a key to understanding the areal network of cortex. In particular, we report a systematic relation in the monkey, human, and mouse cortex between the occurrence of connections from one area to another and their similarity distance. This characteristic relation is rooted in the wiring distance dependence of connections in the brain. We introduce a weighted, spatially embedded random network model that robustly gives rise to this structure, as well as many other spatial and topological properties observed in cortex. These include features that were not accounted for in any previous model, such as the wide range of interareal connection weights. Connections in the model emerge from an underlying distribution of spatially embedded axons, thereby integrating the two scales of cortical connectivity—individual axons and interareal pathways—into a common geometric framework. These results provide insights into the origin of large-scale connectivity in cortex and have important implications for theories of cortical organization."
to:NB  neuroscience  networks  network_formation 
yesterday
Decreased segregation of brain systems across the healthy adult lifespan
"Healthy aging has been associated with decreased specialization in brain function. This characterization has focused largely on describing age-accompanied differences in specialization at the level of neurons and brain areas. We expand this work to describe systems-level differences in specialization in a healthy adult lifespan sample (n = 210; 20–89 y). A graph-theoretic framework is used to guide analysis of functional MRI resting-state data and describe systems-level differences in connectivity of individual brain networks. Young adults’ brain systems exhibit a balance of within- and between-system correlations that is characteristic of segregated and specialized organization. Increasing age is accompanied by decreasing segregation of brain systems. Compared with systems involved in the processing of sensory input and motor output, systems mediating “associative” operations exhibit a distinct pattern of reductions in segregation across the adult lifespan. Of particular importance, the magnitude of association system segregation is predictive of long-term memory function, independent of an individual’s age."
to:NB  neuroscience  functional_connectivity  re:network_differences 
yesterday
Frontiers of Test Validity Theory: Measurement, Causation, and Meaning (Paperback) - Routledge
"This book examines test validity in the behavioral, social, and educational sciences by exploring three fundamental problems: measurement, causation and meaning. Psychometric and philosophical perspectives receive attention along with unresolved issues. The authors explore how measurement is conceived from both the classical and modern perspectives. The importance of understanding the underlying concepts as well as the practical challenges of test construction and use receive emphasis throughout. The book summarizes the current state of the test validity theory field. Necessary background on test theory and statistics is presented as a conceptual overview where needed.
"Each chapter begins with an overview of key material reviewed in previous chapters, concludes with a list of suggested readings, and features boxes with examples that connect theory to practice. These examples reflect actual situations that occurred in psychology, education, and other disciplines in the US and around the globe, bringing theory to life. Critical thinking questions related to the boxed material engage and challenge readers. A few examples include:
"What is the difference between intelligence and IQ?
"Can people disagree on issues of value but agree on issues of test validity?
"Is it possible to ask the same question in two different languages?
"The first part of the book contrasts theories of measurement as applied to the validity of behavioral science measures.The next part considers causal theories of measurement in relation to alternatives such as behavior domain sampling, and then unpacks the causal approach in terms of alternative theories of causation.The final section explores the meaning and interpretation of test scores as it applies to test validity. Each set of chapters opens with a review of the key theories and literature and concludes with a review of related open questions in test validity theory.
"Researchers, practitioners and policy makers interested in test validity or developing tests appreciate the book's cutting edge review of test validity. The book also serves as a supplement in graduate or advanced undergraduate courses on test validity, psychometrics, testing or measurement taught in psychology, education, sociology, social work, political science, business, criminal justice and other fields. The book does not assume a background in measurement."
to:NB  books:noted  psychometrics  social_measurement  statistics  causality  borsboom.denny 
yesterday
Empirical Model Discovery and Theory Evaluation: Automatic Selection Methods in Econometrics | The MIT Press
"Economic models of empirical phenomena are developed for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is the numerical characterization of available evidence, in a suitably parsimonious form. Another is to test a theory, or evaluate it against the evidence; still another is to forecast future outcomes. Building such models involves a multitude of decisions, and the large number of features that need to be taken into account can overwhelm the researcher. Automatic model selection, which draws on recent advances in computation and search algorithms, can create, and then empirically investigate, a vastly wider range of possibilities than even the greatest expert. In this book, leading econometricians David Hendry and Jurgen Doornik report on their several decades of innovative research on automatic model selection.
"After introducing the principles of empirical model discovery and the role of model selection, Hendry and Doornik outline the stages of developing a viable model of a complicated evolving process. They discuss the discovery stages in detail, considering both the theory of model selection and the performance of several algorithms. They describe extensions to tackling outliers and multiple breaks, leading to the general case of more candidate variables than observations. Finally, they briefly consider selecting models specifically for forecasting."
books:noted  econometrics  statistics  model_selection  model_discovery  in_NB 
yesterday
The Worst Job I Ever Had | STANTON AND DELIVER
The thing I find implausible about this (very well-told) story is the absence of _live_ insects.
insects  gross  labor  moral_psychology  adolescence  via:unfogged  have_read 
2 days ago
Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition | The MIT Press
""Scaffolding" is a concept that is becoming widely used across disciplines. This book investigates common threads in diverse applications of scaffolding, including theoretical biology, cognitive science, social theory, science and technology studies, and human development. Despite its widespread use, the concept of scaffolding is often given short shrift; the contributors to this volume, from a range of disciplines, offer a more fully developed analysis of scaffolding that highlights the role of temporal and temporary resources in development, broadly conceived, across concepts of culture, cognition, and evolution.
"The book emphasizes reproduction, repeated assembly, and entrenchment of heterogeneous relations, parts, and processes as a complement to neo-Darwinism in the developmentalist tradition of conceptualizing evolutionary change. After describing an integration of theoretical perspectives that can accommodate different levels of analysis and connect various methodologies, the book discusses multilevel organization; differences (and reciprocality) between individuals and institutions as units of analysis; and perspectives on development that span brains, careers, corporations, and cultural cycles."
to:NB  developmental_biology  cognitive_development  books:noted 
2 days ago
Gotze : On the Rate of Convergence in the Multivariate CLT
"Berry-Esseen theorems are proved in the multidimensional central limit theorem without using Fourier methods. An effective and simple estimate of the error in the CLT for sums and convex sets using Stein's method and induction is derived. Furthermore, the error in the CLT for multivariate functions of independent random elements is estimated extending results of van Zwet and Friedrich to the multivariate case."
to:NB  probability  central_limit_theorem 
2 days ago
Memes in Digital Culture | The MIT Press
"In December 2012, the exuberant video “Gangnam Style” became the first YouTube clip to be viewed more than one billion times. Thousands of its viewers responded by creating and posting their own variations of the video--“Mitt Romney Style,” “NASA Johnson Style,” “Egyptian Style,” and many others. “Gangnam Style” (and its attendant parodies, imitations, and derivations) is one of the most famous examples of an Internet meme: a piece of digital content that spreads quickly around the web in various iterations and becomes a shared cultural experience. In this book, Limor Shifman investigates Internet memes and what they tell us about digital culture.
"Shifman discusses a series of well-known Internet memes—including “Leave Britney Alone,” the pepper-spraying cop, LOLCats, Scumbag Steve, and Occupy Wall Street’s “We Are the 99 Percent.” She offers a novel definition of Internet memes: digital content units with common characteristics, created with awareness of each other, and circulated, imitated, and transformed via the Internet by many users. She differentiates memes from virals; analyzes what makes memes and virals successful; describes popular meme genres; discusses memes as new modes of political participation in democratic and nondemocratic regimes; and examines memes as agents of globalization.
"Memes, Shifman argues, encapsulate some of the most fundamental aspects of the Internet in general and of the participatory Web 2.0 culture in particular. Internet memes may be entertaining, but in this book Limor Shifman makes a compelling argument for taking them seriously."
to:NB  books:noted  epidemiology_of_representations  networked_life  computer_networks_as_provinces_of_the_commonwealth_of_letters 
3 days ago
ReCombinatorics: The Algorithmics of Ancestral Recombination Graphs and Explicit Phylogenetic Networks | The MIT Press
"In this book, Dan Gusfield examines combinatorial algorithms to construct genealogical and exact phylogenetic networks, particularly ancestral recombination graphs (ARGs). The algorithms produce networks (or information about networks) that serve as hypotheses about the true genealogical history of observed biological sequences and can be applied to practical biological problems.
"Phylogenetic trees have been the traditional means to represent evolutionary history, but there is a growing realization that networks rather than trees are often needed, most notably for recent human history. This has led to the development of ARGs in population genetics and, more broadly, to phylogenetic networks. ReCombinatorics offers an in-depth, rigorous examination of current research on the combinatorial, graph-theoretic structure of ARGs and explicit phylogenetic networks, and algorithms to reconstruct or deduce information about those networks.
"ReCombinatorics, a groundbreaking contribution to the emerging field of phylogenetic networks, connects and unifies topics in population genetics and phylogenetics that have traditionally been discussed separately and considered to be unrelated. It covers the necessary combinatorial and algorithmic background material; the various biological phenomena; the mathematical, population genetic, and phylogenetic models that capture the essential elements of these phenomena; the combinatorial and algorithmic problems that derive from these models; the theoretical results that have been obtained; related software that has been developed; and some empirical testing of the software on simulated and real biological data."
to:NB  books:noted  evolutionary_biology  historical_genetics  bioinformatics  cultural_evolution 
3 days ago
Principles of Neural Design | The MIT Press
"Neuroscience research has exploded, with more than fifty thousand neuroscientists applying increasingly advanced methods. A mountain of new facts and mechanisms has emerged. And yet a principled framework to organize this knowledge has been missing. In this book, Peter Sterling and Simon Laughlin, two leading neuroscientists, strive to fill this gap, outlining a set of organizing principles to explain the whys of neural design that allow the brain to compute so efficiently.
"Setting out to “reverse engineer” the brain—disassembling it to understand it—Sterling and Laughlin first consider why an animal should need a brain, tracing computational abilities from bacterium to protozoan to worm. They examine bigger brains and the advantages of “anticipatory regulation”; identify constraints on neural design and the need to “nanofy”; and demonstrate the routes to efficiency in an integrated molecular system, phototransduction. They show that the principles of neural design at finer scales and lower levels apply at larger scales and higher levels; describe neural wiring efficiency; and discuss learning as a principle of biological design that includes “save only what is needed.”
"Sterling and Laughlin avoid speculation about how the brain might work and endeavor to make sense of what is already known. Their distinctive contribution is to gather a coherent set of basic rules and exemplify them across spatial and functional scales."
to:NB  books:noted  neuroscience  design_for_a_brain 
3 days ago
Neuroscience: A Historical Introduction | The MIT Press
"This introduction to neuroscience is unique in its emphasis on how we know what we know about the structure and function of the nervous system. What are the observations and experiments that have taught us about the brain and spinal cord? The book traces our current neuroscientific knowledge to many and varied sources, including ancient observations on the role of the spinal cord in posture and movement, nineteenth-century neuroanatomists’ descriptions of the nature of nerve cells, physicians’ attempts throughout history to correlate the site of a brain injury with its symptoms, and experiments on the brains of invertebrates.
"After an overview of the brain and its connections to the sensory and motor systems, Neuroscience discusses, among other topics, the structure of nerve cells; electrical transmission in the nervous system; chemical transmission and the mechanism of drug action; sensation; vision; hearing; movement; learning and memory; language and the brain; neurological disease; personality and emotion; the treatment of mental illness; and consciousness. It explains the sometimes baffling Latin names for brain subdivisions; discusses the role of technology in the field, from microscopes to EEGs; and describes the many varieties of scientific discovery. The book’s novel perspective offers a particularly effective way for students to learn about neuroscience. It also makes it clear that past contributions offer a valuable guide for thinking about the puzzles that remain."
to:NB  books:noted  neuroscience  history_of_science 
3 days ago
Russell's Principles of Mathematics and the Revolution in Marburg Neo-Kantianism
"Bertrand Russell's Principles of Mathematics offered a sustained criticism of Hermann Cohen's foundations of neo-Kantianism, evoking a radical rethinking of the basis of Marburg thought by Cohen's student, Ernst Cassirer. Russell's criticisms were directed at the understanding of the concepts of the differential calculus, which grounded the objectivity of scientific thought in Cohen's effort to resurrect the Kantian transcendental project. On the basis of Russell's criticisms, Cassirer abandoned Cohen's foundations and instead drew on the general relational form, borrowed from Russell's work in mathematical logic, to serve as the a priori source of objectivity. However, Cassirer's reliance on Russell's thought was limited, for he rejected Russell's Logicism, the principal philosophical thesis of his Principles. Instead, Cassirer specified that the serial relation, as defined by the Formalist mathematicians, was the source of objectivity of the advanced mathematical sciences. The result was a structuralist epistemology, which was not only founded on distinctively Marburg premises, but deepened and enriched its traditional doctrines, like the genetic conception of knowledge."
to:NB  history_of_ideas  philosophy  mathematics  russell.bertrand  cassirer.ernst  logic 
3 days ago
Functional Differential Geometry | The MIT Press
"Physics is naturally expressed in mathematical language. Students new to the subject must simultaneously learn an idiomatic mathematical language and the content that is expressed in that language. It is as if they were asked to read Les Misérables while struggling with French grammar. This book offers an innovative way to learn the differential geometry needed as a foundation for a deep understanding of general relativity or quantum field theory as taught at the college level.
"The approach taken by the authors (and used in their classes at MIT for many years) differs from the conventional one in several ways, including an emphasis on the development of the covariant derivative and an avoidance of the use of traditional index notation for tensors in favor of a semantically richer language of vector fields and differential forms. But the biggest single difference is the authors’ integration of computer programming into their explanations. By programming a computer to interpret a formula, the student soon learns whether or not a formula is correct. Students are led to improve their program, and as a result improve their understanding."

- This seems wonderfully mad.
to:NB  books:noted  geometry  differential_geometry  mathematics  programming 
3 days ago
This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things | The MIT Press
"Internet trolls live to upset as many people as possible, using all the technical and psychological tools at their disposal. They gleefully whip the media into a frenzy over a fake teen drug crisis; they post offensive messages on Facebook memorial pages, traumatizing grief-stricken friends and family; they use unabashedly racist language and images. They take pleasure in ruining a complete stranger’s day and find amusement in their victim’s anguish. In short, trolling is the obstacle to a kinder, gentler Internet. To quote a famous Internet meme, trolling is why we can’t have nice things online. Or at least that’s what we have been led to believe. In this provocative book, Whitney Phillips argues that trolling, widely condemned as obscene and deviant, actually fits comfortably within the contemporary media landscape. Trolling may be obscene, but, Phillips argues, it isn’t all that deviant. Trolls’ actions are born of and fueled by culturally sanctioned impulses—which are just as damaging as the trolls’ most disruptive behaviors.
"Phillips describes, for example, the relationship between trolling and sensationalist corporate media—pointing out that for trolls, exploitation is a leisure activity; for media, it’s a business strategy. She shows how trolls, “the grimacing poster children for a socially networked world,” align with social media. And she documents how trolls, in addition to parroting media tropes, also offer a grotesque pantomime of dominant cultural tropes, including gendered notions of dominance and success and an ideology of entitlement. We don’t just have a trolling problem, Phillips argues; we have a culture problem. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things isn’t only about trolls; it’s about a culture in which trolls thrive."
to:NB  books:noted  trolls  networked_life  social_media  cultural_criticism 
3 days ago
Spam | The MIT Press
"The vast majority of all email sent every day is spam, a variety of idiosyncratically spelled requests to provide account information, invitations to spend money on dubious products, and pleas to send cash overseas. Most of it is caught by filters before ever reaching an in-box. Where does it come from? As Finn Brunton explains in Spam, it is produced and shaped by many different populations around the world: programmers, con artists, bots and their botmasters, pharmaceutical merchants, marketers, identity thieves, crooked bankers and their victims, cops, lawyers, network security professionals, vigilantes, and hackers. Every time we go online, we participate in the system of spam, with choices, refusals, and purchases the consequences of which we may not understand.
"This is a book about what spam is, how it works, and what it means. Brunton provides a cultural history that stretches from pranks on early computer networks to the construction of a global criminal infrastructure. The history of spam, Brunton shows us, is a shadow history of the Internet itself, with spam emerging as the mirror image of the online communities it targets. Brunton traces spam through three epochs: the 1970s to 1995, and the early, noncommercial computer networks that became the Internet; 1995 to 2003, with the dot-com boom, the rise of spam’s entrepreneurs, and the first efforts at regulating spam; and 2003 to the present, with the war of algorithms—spam versus anti-spam. Spam shows us how technologies, from email to search engines, are transformed by unintended consequences and adaptations, and how online communities develop and invent governance for themselves."
to:NB  books:noted  internet  spam  networked_life 
3 days ago
America's Assembly Line | The MIT Press
"The mechanized assembly line was invented in 1913 and has been in continuous operation ever since. It is the most familiar form of mass production. Both praised as a boon to workers and condemned for exploiting them, it has been celebrated and satirized. (We can still picture Chaplin’s little tramp trying to keep up with a factory conveyor belt.) In America’s Assembly Line, David Nye examines the industrial innovation that made the United States productive and wealthy in the twentieth century.
"The assembly line—developed at the Ford Motor Company in 1913 for the mass production of Model Ts—first created and then served an expanding mass market. It also transformed industrial labor. By 1980, Japan had reinvented the assembly line as a system of “lean manufacturing”; American industry reluctantly adopted the new approach. Nye describes this evolution and the new global landscape of increasingly automated factories, with fewer industrial jobs in America and questionable working conditions in developing countries. A century after Ford’s pioneering innovation, the assembly line continues to evolve toward more sustainable manufacturing."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_technology  economic_history  20th_century_history  labor 
3 days ago
Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representations as Graphical Models | The MIT Press
"Our ordinary, everyday thinking requires an astonishing range of cognitive activities, yet our cognition seems to take place seamlessly. We move between cognitive processes with ease, and different types of cognition seem to share information readily. In this book, David Danks proposes a novel cognitive architecture that can partially explain two aspects of human cognition: its relatively integrated nature and our effortless ability to focus on the relevant factors in any particular situation. Danks argues that both of these features of cognition are naturally explained if many of our cognitive representations are understood to be structured like graphical models.
"The computational framework of graphical models is widely used in machine learning, but Danks is the first to offer a book-length account of its use to analyze multiple areas of cognition. Danks demonstrates the usefulness of this approach by reinterpreting a variety of cognitive theories in terms of graphical models. He shows how we can understand much of our cognition—in particular causal learning, cognition involving concepts, and decision making—through the lens of graphical models, thus clarifying a range of data from experiments and introspection. Moreover, Danks demonstrates the important role that cognitive representations play in a unified understanding of cognition, arguing that much of our cognition can be explained in terms of different cognitive processes operating on a shared collection of cognitive representations. Danks’s account is mathematically accessible, focusing on the qualitative aspects of graphical models and separating the formal mathematical details in the text."
to:NB  books:noted  graphical_models  cognitive_science  philosophy_of_science  kith_and_kin  danks.david 
3 days ago
Reading the Comments | The MIT Press
"Online comment can be informative or misleading, entertaining or maddening. Haters and manipulators often seem to monopolize the conversation. Some comments are off-topic, or even topic-less. In this book, Joseph Reagle urges us to read the comments. Conversations “on the bottom half of the Internet,” he argues, can tell us much about human nature and social behavior.
"Reagle visits communities of Amazon reviewers, fan fiction authors, online learners, scammers, freethinkers, and mean kids. He shows how comment can inform us (through reviews), improve us (through feedback), manipulate us (through fakery), alienate us (through hate), shape us (through social comparison), and perplex us. He finds pre-Internet historical antecedents of online comment in Michelin stars, professional criticism, and the wisdom of crowds. He discusses the techniques of online fakery (distinguishing makers, fakers, and takers), describes the emotional work of receiving and giving feedback, and examines the culture of trolls and haters, bullying, and misogyny. He considers the way comment—a nonstop stream of social quantification and ranking—affects our self-esteem and well-being. And he examines how comment is puzzling—short and asynchronous, these messages can be slap-dash, confusing, amusing, revealing, and weird, shedding context in their passage through the Internet, prompting readers to comment in turn, “WTF?!?”"
to:NB  books:noted  computer_networks_as_provinces_of_the_commonwealth_of_letters  networked_life 
3 days ago
An Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling | The MIT Press
"The advent of widespread fast computing has enabled us to work on more complex problems and to build and analyze more complex models. This book provides an introduction to one of the primary methodologies for research in this new field of knowledge. Agent-based modeling (ABM) offers a new way of doing science: by conducting computer-based experiments. ABM is applicable to complex systems embedded in natural, social, and engineered contexts, across domains that range from engineering to ecology. An Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling offers a comprehensive description of the core concepts, methods, and applications of ABM. Its hands-on approach—with hundreds of examples and exercises using NetLogo—enables readers to begin constructing models immediately, regardless of experience or discipline.
"The book first describes the nature and rationale of agent-based modeling, then presents the methodology for designing and building ABMs, and finally discusses how to utilize ABMs to answer complex questions. Features in each chapter include step-by-step guides to developing models in the main text; text boxes with additional information and concepts; end-of-chapter explorations; and references and lists of relevant reading. There is also an accompanying website with all the models and code."
to:NB  books:noted  agent-based_models  kith_and_kin  rand.william 
3 days ago
A Metaphysics of Psychopathology | The MIT Press
"In psychiatry, few question the legitimacy of asking whether a given psychiatric disorder is real; similarly, in psychology, scholars debate the reality of such theoretical entities as general intelligence, superegos, and personality traits. And yet in both disciplines, little thought is given to what is meant by the rather abstract philosophical concept of “real.” Indeed, certain psychiatric disorders have passed from real to imaginary (as in the case of multiple personality disorder) and from imaginary to real (as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder). In this book, Peter Zachar considers such terms as “real” and “reality”—invoked in psychiatry but often obscure and remote from their instances—as abstract philosophical concepts. He then examines the implications of his approach for psychiatric classification and psychopathology.
"Proposing what he calls a scientifically inspired pragmatism, Zachar considers such topics as the essentialist bias, diagnostic literalism, and the concepts of natural kind and social construct. Turning explicitly to psychiatric topics, he proposes a new model for the domain of psychiatric disorders, the imperfect community model, which avoids both relativism and essentialism. He uses this model to understand such recent controversies as the attempt to eliminate narcissistic personality disorder from the DSM-5. Returning to such concepts as real, true, and objective, Zachar argues that not only should we use these metaphysical concepts to think philosophically about other concepts, we should think philosophically about them."
to:NB  books:noted  barely-comprehensible_metaphysics  psychology  social_science_methodology  philosophy_of_science  philosophy_of_mind  re:g_paper 
3 days ago
Atlas of Knowledge | The MIT Press
"Maps of physical spaces locate us in the world and help us navigate unfamiliar routes. Maps of topical spaces help us visualize the extent and structure of our collective knowledge; they reveal bursts of activity, pathways of ideas, and borders that beg to be crossed. This book, from the author of Atlas of Science, describes the power of topical maps, providing readers with principles for visualizing knowledge and offering as examples forty large-scale and more than 100 small-scale full-color maps.
"Today, data literacy is becoming as important as language literacy. Well-designed visualizations can rescue us from a sea of data, helping us to make sense of information, connect ideas, and make better decisions in real time. In Atlas of Knowledge, leading visualization expert Katy Börner makes the case for a systems science approach to science and technology studies and explains different types and levels of analysis. Drawing on fifteen years of teaching and tool development, she introduces a theoretical framework meant to guide readers through user and task analysis; data preparation, analysis, and visualization; visualization deployment; and the interpretation of science maps. To exemplify the framework, the Atlas features striking and enlightening new maps from the popular “Places & Spaces: Mapping Science” exhibit that range from “Key Events in the Development of the Video Tape Recorder” to “Mobile Landscapes: Location Data from Cell Phones for Urban Analysis” to “Literary Empires: Mapping Temporal and Spatial Settings of Victorian Poetry” to “Seeing Standards: A Visualization of the Metadata Universe.” She also discusses the possible effect of science maps on the practice of science."
to:NB  books:noted  visual_display_of_quantitative_information 
3 days ago
Unique semantic space in the brain of each beholder predicts perceived similarity
"The unique way in which each of us perceives the world must arise from our brain representations. If brain imaging could reveal an individual’s unique mental representation, it could help us understand the biological substrate of our individual experiential worlds in mental health and disease. However, imaging studies of object vision have focused on commonalities between individuals rather than individual differences and on category averages rather than representations of particular objects. Here we investigate the individually unique component of brain representations of particular objects with functional MRI (fMRI). Subjects were presented with unfamiliar and personally meaningful object images while we measured their brain activity on two separate days. We characterized the representational geometry by the dissimilarity matrix of activity patterns elicited by particular object images. The representational geometry remained stable across scanning days and was unique in each individual in early visual cortex and human inferior temporal cortex (hIT). The hIT representation predicted perceived similarity as reflected in dissimilarity judgments. Importantly, hIT predicted the individually unique component of the judgments when the objects were personally meaningful. Our results suggest that hIT brain representational idiosyncrasies accessible to fMRI are expressed in an individual's perceptual judgments. The unique way each of us perceives the world thus might reflect the individually unique representation in high-level visual areas."

cf. https://pinboard.in/u:cshalizi/b:a59371e4b9fb
to:NB  fmri  neural_coding_and_decoding  neuroscience 
5 days ago
A common neural code for similar conscious experiences in different individuals
"The interpretation of human consciousness from brain activity, without recourse to speech or action, is one of the most provoking and challenging frontiers of modern neuroscience. We asked whether there is a common neural code that underpins similar conscious experiences, which could be used to decode these experiences in the absence of behavior. To this end, we used richly evocative stimulation (an engaging movie) portraying real-world events to elicit a similar conscious experience in different people. Common neural correlates of conscious experience were quantified and related to measurable, quantitative and qualitative, executive components of the movie through two additional behavioral investigations. The movie’s executive demands drove synchronized brain activity across healthy participants’ frontal and parietal cortices in regions known to support executive function. Moreover, the timing of activity in these regions was predicted by participants’ highly similar qualitative experience of the movie’s moment-to-moment executive demands, suggesting that synchronization of activity across participants underpinned their similar experience. Thus we demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, that a neural index based on executive function reliably predicted every healthy individual’s similar conscious experience in response to real-world events unfolding over time. This approach provided strong evidence for the conscious experience of a brain-injured patient, who had remained entirely behaviorally nonresponsive for 16 y. The patient’s executive engagement and moment-to-moment perception of the movie content were highly similar to that of every healthy participant. These findings shed light on the common basis of human consciousness and enable the interpretation of conscious experience in the absence of behavior."

cf. https://pinboard.in/u:cshalizi/b:79dc9bba5bb8
to:NB  fmri  neural_coding_and_decoding  neuroscience 
5 days ago
fMRI Study of Inconceivable Cosmic Horror | Eric Linus Kaplan
"ABSTRACT: Popular author Howard Phillips Lovecraft speculated in the early 20 c. that certain experiences gave rise to inconceivable cosmic horror, as if something were fundamentally, hideously wrong with the very nature of reality, a grotesque feeling, hovering at the borders of thought and beyond, as of nails on a chalkboard, but worse, inconceivably worse, as if for one moment the veils that allow us to live our lives without going mad were lifted and we heard the loathsome opera of trillions of gibbering malefic voices laughing insanely at the futility of human hopes for respite from the mocking ghoul smile of the abyss. To test this we ran a functional MRI (fMRI) of 50 sophomores while they were exposed to either a neutral stimulus, a positive stimulus (a ten dollar i-tunes gift card) or a symbol of subtle and awful wrongness that was obtained from a certain obscure group of Portugese sailors whose ceremonies are so hideous that this research team feels we will go MAD if we think about them and what we learned in those filthy cabanas reeking of garlic and body odor and shaking to the rhythms of their awful voodoo-inspired REGGAE MUSIC. We found that when exposed to the symbol of obscure cosmic horror certain regions in L4, L9 and the anterior cingulate nucleus experienced higher activation as compared to control and hypothesize that this is a cosmic horror detection module. Our research is being published in the Journal of Brain Imaging studies, although a further hypothesis that this module was IMPLANTED IN OUR BRAINS by certain — I hesitate to call them ENTITIES! for that seems to bely their fundamental strangeness or EVEN INTELLIGENCES — for that ignores that if anything they are a prototype of INSANITY — for the purpose of tormenting the poor human race — AGHH! AGGHH! THE DOOR! THE DOOR IT’S OPENING. NO! NO! NO! AND THE HANDLE — THE THING TURNING IT — GOD HELP ME! IT IS NOT A HAND!!!!!!!!"
fmri  cthulhiana  funny:geeky  parody  not_actually_much_stranger_than_many_papers_in_neuroimage 
7 days ago
The 2014 Supreme Court: An Ivy League Clan Disconnected From Reality | New Republic
"In the coming months and years, this group of Ivy-trained Washington insiders will have to decide whether Texas voters who don’t have driver’s licenses and are required to take three buses across town to pay $30 for a voter ID have effectively been disenfranchised. They will determine whether women who need to travel 300 miles to procure an abortion (women who may lack cars, or paid time off, or money to spend on hotels) face an “undue burden.” But some of the same justices who will bar empathy from those considerations forget that they do evince empathy when they side with those beleaguered “sidewalk counselors,” or multimillionaire campaign donors, or the owner of a mega-chain of craft stores who believes his religious freedoms have been impinged. All of us import our values and experiences into our decision-making. The double-whammy at the current Court is that the justices are no longer allowed to acknowledge it, and that the pool of those with whom they unavoidably identify is so dangerously small and privileged.
"When the next court vacancy occurs, there will be lists of brilliant, Yale- and Harvard-trained jurists to choose from. But there will also be many accomplished lawyers toiling in elected office and legal-aid clinics and state-school faculties. Progressives need to identify those prospects and to push them forward. The alternative is ceding the court to ever-more dazzling minds, while seeing less of our own realities in its jurisprudence."
law  us_politics  our_decrepit_institutions  lithwick.dahlia  have_read 
8 days ago
Big Data's Disparate Impact by Solon Barocas, Andrew D. Selbst :: SSRN
"This article addresses the potential for disparate impact in the data mining processes that are taking over modern-day business. Scholars and policymakers had, until recently, focused almost exclusively on data mining’s capacity to hide intentional discrimination, hoping to convince regulators to develop the tools to unmask such discrimination. Recently there has been a noted shift in the policy discussions, where some have begun to recognize that unintentional discrimination is a hidden danger that might be even more worrisome. So far, the recognition of the possibility of unintentional discrimination lacks technical and theoretical foundation, making policy recommendations difficult, where they are not simply misdirected. This article provides the necessary foundation about how data mining can give rise to discrimination and how data mining interacts with anti-discrimination law.
"The article carefully steps through the technical process of data mining and points to different places within the process where a disproportionately adverse impact on protected classes may result from innocent choices on the part of the data miner. From there, the article analyzes these disproportionate impacts under Title VII. The Article concludes that Title VII is largely ill equipped to address the discrimination that results from data mining. Worse, due to problems in the internal logic of data mining as well as political and constitutional constraints, there appears to be no easy way to reform Title VII to fix these inadequacies. The article focuses on Title VII because it is the most well developed anti-discrimination doctrine, but the conclusions apply more broadly because they are based on the general approach to anti-discrimination within American law."
in_NB  data_mining  discrimination  law  to_read  to_teach:data-mining 
9 days ago
JEP (28,4) p. 121 - Taxing across Borders: Tracking Personal Wealth and Corporate Profits
"This article attempts to estimate the magnitude of corporate tax avoidance and personal tax evasion through offshore tax havens. US corporations book 20 percent of their profits in tax havens, a tenfold increase since the 1980; their effective tax rate has declined from 30 to 20 percent over the last 15 years, and about two-thirds of this decline can be attributed to increased international tax avoidance. Globally, 8 percent of the world's personal financial wealth is held offshore, costing more than $200 billion to governments every year. Despite ambitious policy initiatives, profit shifting to tax havens and offshore wealth are rising. I discuss the recent proposals made to address these issues, and I argue that the main objective should be to create a world financial registry."
to:NB  economics  taxes  globalization 
9 days ago
JEP (28,4) p. 169 - The Economics of Guilds
"Occupational guilds in medieval and early modern Europe offered an effective institutional mechanism whereby two powerful groups, guild members and political elites, could collaborate in capturing a larger slice of the economic pie and redistributing it to themselves at the expense of the rest of the economy. Guilds provided an organizational mechanism for groups of businessmen to negotiate with political elites for exclusive legal privileges that allowed them to reap monopoly rents. Guild members then used their guilds to redirect a share of these rents to political elites in return for support and enforcement. In short, guilds enabled their members and political elites to negotiate a way of extracting rents in the manufacturing and commercial sectors, rents that neither party could have extracted on its own. First, I provide an overview of where and when European guilds arose, what occupations they encompassed, how large they were, and how they varied across time and space. I then examine how guild activities affected market competition, commercial security, contract enforcement, product quality, human capital, and technological innovation. The historical findings on guilds provide strong support for the view that institutions arise and survive for centuries not because they are efficient but because they serve the distributional interests of powerful groups."
to:NB  economics  inequality  institutions  guilds 
9 days ago
xkcd 1446
In case by any chance you _haven't_ seen this yet.
space_exploration  robots_and_robotics  cartoons  anthropomorphism  xkcd 
10 days ago
JEP (28,4) p. 23 - From Micro to Macro via Production Networks
"A modern economy is an intricately linked web of specialized production units, each relying on the flow of inputs from their suppliers to produce their own output which, in turn, is routed towards other downstream units. In this essay, I argue that this network perspective on production linkages can offer novel insights on how local shocks occurring along this production network can propagate across the economy and give rise to aggregate fluctuations. First, I discuss how production networks can be mapped to a standard general equilibrium setup. In particular, through a series of stylized examples, I demonstrate how the propagation of sectoral shocks—and hence aggregate volatility—depends on different arrangements of production, that is, on different "shapes" of the underlying production network. Next I explore, from a network perspective, the empirical properties of a large-scale production network as given by detailed US input-output data. Finally I address how theory and data on production networks can be usefully combined to shed light on comovement and aggregate fluctuations."
to:NB  economics  macroeconomics  networks  input-output 
10 days ago
JEP (28,4) p. 3 - Networks in the Understanding of Economic Behaviors
"As economists endeavor to build better models of human behavior, they cannot ignore that humans are fundamentally a social species with interaction patterns that shape their behaviors. People's opinions, which products they buy, whether they invest in education, become criminals, and so forth, are all influenced by friends and acquaintances. Ultimately, the full network of relationships—how dense it is, whether some groups are segregated, who sits in central positions—affects how information spreads and how people behave. Increased availability of data coupled with increased computing power allows us to analyze networks in economic settings in ways not previously possible. In this paper, I describe some of the ways in which networks are helping economists to model and understand behavior. I begin with an example that demonstrates the sorts of things that researchers can miss if they do not account for network patterns of interaction. Next I discuss a taxonomy of network properties and how they impact behaviors. Finally, I discuss the problem of developing tractable models of network formation."
to:NB  to_read  economics  social_networks  network_data_analysis  jackson.matthew_o.  social_influence  network_formation 
10 days ago
JEP (28,4) p. 149 - Tax Morale
"There is an apparent disconnect between much of the academic literature on tax compliance and the administration of tax policy. In the benchmark economic model, the key policy parameters affecting tax evasion are the tax rate, the detection probability, and the penalty imposed conditional on the evasion being detected. Meanwhile, tax administrators also tend to place a great deal of emphasis on the importance of improving "tax morale," by which they generally mean increasing voluntary compliance with tax laws and creating a social norm of compliance. We will define tax morale broadly to include nonpecuniary motivations for tax compliance as well as factors that fall outside the standard, expected utility framework. Tax morale does indeed appear to be an important component of compliance decisions. We demonstrate that tax morale operates through a variety of underlying mechanisms, drawing on evidence from laboratory studies, natural experiments, and an emerging literature employing randomized field experiments. We consider the implications for tax policy and attempt to understand why recent interventions designed to improve morale, and thereby compliance, have had mixed results to date."
to:NB  economics  taxes  economic_policy 
10 days ago
JEP (28,4) p. 213 - Retrospectives: The Cold-War Origins of the Value of Statistical Life
"This paper traces the history of the "Value of Statistical Life" (VSL), which today is used routinely in benefit-cost analysis of life-saving investments. The "value of statistical life" terminology was introduced by Thomas Schelling (1968) in his essay, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." Schelling made the crucial move to think in terms of risk rather than individual lives, with the hope to dodge the moral thicket of valuing "life." But as recent policy debates have illustrated, his move only thickened it. Tellingly, interest in the subject can be traced back another twenty years before Schelling's essay to a controversy at RAND Corporation following its earliest application of operations research to defense planning. RAND wanted to avoid valuing pilot's lives but the Air Force insisted they confront the issue. Thus, the VSL is not only well acquainted with political controversy; it was born from it."
to:NB  decision_theory  economics  moral_philosophy  cold_war  schelling.thomas  cost-benefit_analysis  asking_the_egg_what_it_would_give_to_not_be_in_the_omlet 
10 days ago
Mean oscillation over cubes and Hölder continuity
So it turns out that my regularity condition is just Holder continuity in integral disguise. I feel a bit less stupid because it was considered worth a paper to show this, at least once upon a time.
mathematics  real_analysis  re:smoothing_adjacency_matrices  have_read  to:NB 
11 days ago
The Inspection House | Coach House Books
"In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. While Bentham's design was ostensibly for a prison, he believed that any number of places that require supervision—factories, poorhouses, hospitals, and schools—would benefit from such a design. The French philosopher Michel Foucault took Bentham at his word. In his groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as a means for ever-finer mechanisms of control.
"Forty years later, the available tools of scrutiny, supervision, and discipline are far more capable and insidious than Foucault dreamed, and yet less effective than Bentham hoped. Public squares, container ports, terrorist holding cells, and social networks all bristle with cameras, sensors, and trackers. But, crucially, they are also rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution. The Inspection House is a tour through several of these sites—from Guantánamo Bay to the Occupy Oakland camp and the authors' own mobile devices—providing a stark, vivid portrait of our contemporary surveillance state and its opponents."

--- The first author is one of the creators of the excellent _A Softer World_.
to:NB  books:noted  surveillance  networked_life  national_surveillance_state 
11 days ago
5 awesome bike trails to hit before the snow does - NEXTpittsburgh
The GAP, Eliza Furnace and Millvale trails are quite nice; I've not tried the other two. (And I haven't taken the GAP all the way to DC but I very much want to in the spring, after classes end.)
pittsburgh  biking 
11 days ago
Cities, Tasks and Skills by Suzanne Kok, Bas Ter Weel :: SSRN
"This research applies a task-based approach to measure and interpret changes in the employment structure of the 168 largest US cities in the period 1990-2009. As a result of technological change some tasks can be placed at distance, while others require proximity. We construct a measure of task connectivity to investigate which tasks are more likely to require proximity relative to others. Our results suggest that cities with higher shares of connected tasks experienced higher employment growth. This result is robust to a variety of other explanations including industry composition, routinisation, and the complementarity between skills and cities."
to:NB  economics  cities  re:urban_scaling_what_urban_scaling  via:absfac  technological_change 
13 days ago
The Philosopher's Stone: HEARTSICK
Though see his next post for corrections about some of the statements about Harvard.
academia  college_athletics_must_be_destroyed  black_studies  racism 
13 days ago
Data Journalism Done Wrong | Jacobin
Well, yes.

(Now, to be fair, it might be that while there is little connection between low-end wage rates and the number of workers at _McDonalds_ restaurants across countries, there might still be a negative relationship between that wage rate and _total_ employment at such restaurants, or even more general between that wage rate and employment at the low end of the occupational spectrum. But you couldn't use this to defend Yglesias's original post, since it didn't offer any such theses or evidence.)
why_oh_why_cant_we_have_a_better_press_corps  evisceration  data_analysis  economics  minimum_wage 
13 days ago
Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing - The Atlantic
This situation is just so full of so many kinds of wrongness, from the very beginning (penalizing correct answers which aren't the scripted ones) to the corrupt business model implied here, to the incompetence and disorganization of the schools. I'm sure Pittsburgh is no better.
have_read  education  our_decrepit_institutions  economics  market_failures_in_everything  standardized_testing  to:blog  to_teach:data-mining  via:absfac  enraging 
15 days ago
A DC Programming Approach for Finding Communities in Networks
"Automatic discovery of community structures in complex networks is a fundamental task in many disciplines, including physics, biology, and the social sciences. The most used criterion for characterizing the existence of a community structure in a network is modularity, a quantitative measure proposed by Newman and Girvan (2004). The discovery community can be formulated as the so-called modularity maximization problem that consists of finding a partition of nodes of a network with the highest modularity. In this letter, we propose a fast and scalable algorithm called DCAM, based on DC (difference of convex function) programming and DCA (DC algorithms), an innovative approach in nonconvex programming framework for solving the modularity maximization problem. The special structure of the problem considered here has been well exploited to get an inexpensive DCA scheme that requires only a matrix-vector product at each iteration. Starting with a very large number of communities, DCAM furnishes, as output results, an optimal partition together with the optimal number of communities ; that is, the number of communities is discovered automatically during DCAM’s iterations. Numerical experiments are performed on a variety of real-world network data sets with up to 4,194,304 nodes and 30,359,198 edges. The comparative results with height reference algorithms show that the proposed approach outperforms them not only on quality and rapidity but also on scalability. Moreover, it realizes a very good trade-off between the quality of solutions and the run time."
to:NB  community_discovery  network_data_analysis  optimization 
16 days ago
globalinequality: Four tricks used by Shleifer and Treisman to convince you that the transition was a success
"My requirements  to be successful (see my blog just below) were very clear and modest.
"1. Catching-up with OECD countries, that is having an average rate of growth over 25 years which is at least marginally higher than the mean rate of growth of rich OECD countries. It is a standard requirement in the literature to judge a country's success or not. Are you converging toward the rich or not?
"2. A moderate increase in inequality, so that the Gini is in line with OECD average.
"3. A strong democracy so that your score is a full +10, or just slightly below it.
"Only Albania, Estonia, and Poland fulfill these modest requirements. They account for 10% of “transition countries” population.
"You be the judge if these are, or not, reasonable requirements. 
"PS. I forgot to add an important point. When in the early 1970s, my friends or myself, living in East European Communist countries, assessed success or failure of  socialism  we did not think it legitimate to just compare the indicators of the 1970s with those of 25 years before, around 1945-47, when Communists came to power. (Obviously, all economic indicators, and in all dimensions and in all countries, were better in the 1970s than in 1945.) We looked at whether socialism delivered what it promised and, especially, whether it made countries  catch-up with the rich capitalist world. In the event, it did not and this largely explains its failure. But I do not see any reason to change the criterion now when we assess the success of capitalism in Eastern Europe in the past 25 years."
economics  economic_history  post-soviet_life  economic_growth 
17 days ago
danah boyd | apophenia » Frameworks for Understanding the Future of Work
"Technology is changing work. It’s changing labor. Some imagine radical transformations, both positive and negatives. Words like robots and drones conjure up all sorts of science fiction imagination. But many of the transformations that are underway are far more mundane and, yet, phenomenally disruptive, especially for those who are struggling to figure out their place in this new ecosystem. Disruption, a term of endearment in the tech industry, sends shudders down the spine of many, from those whose privilege exists because of the status quo to those who are struggling to put bread on the table.
"A group of us at Data & Society decided to examine various different emergent disruptions that affect the future of work. Thanks to tremendous support from the Open Society Foundations, we’ve produced five working papers that help frame various issues at play."
economics  labor  the_great_risk_shift  boyd.danah 
17 days ago
Life cycles, fitness decoupling and the evolution of multicellularity : Nature : Nature Publishing Group
"Cooperation is central to the emergence of multicellular life; however, the means by which the earliest collectives (groups of cells) maintained integrity in the face of destructive cheating types is unclear. One idea posits cheats as a primitive germ line in a life cycle that facilitates collective reproduction. Here we describe an experiment in which simple cooperating lineages of bacteria were propagated under a selective regime that rewarded collective-level persistence. Collectives reproduced via life cycles that either embraced, or purged, cheating types. When embraced, the life cycle alternated between phenotypic states. Selection fostered inception of a developmental switch that underpinned the emergence of collectives whose fitness, during the course of evolution, became decoupled from the fitness of constituent cells. Such development and decoupling did not occur when groups reproduced via a cheat-purging regime. Our findings capture key events in the evolution of Darwinian individuality during the transition from single cells to multicellularity."
to:NB  to_read  experimental_biology  evolutionary_biology  biology  evolution_of_cooperation 
17 days ago
Transplantation of prokaryotic two-component signaling pathways into mammalian cells
"Signaling pathway engineering is a promising route toward synthetic biological circuits. Histidine–aspartate phosphorelays are thought to have evolved in prokaryotes where they form the basis for two-component signaling. Tyrosine-serine–threonine phosphorelays, exemplified by MAP kinase cascades, are predominant in eukaryotes. Recently, a prokaryotic two-component pathway was implemented in a plant species to sense environmental trinitrotoluene. We reasoned that “transplantation” of two-component pathways into mammalian host could provide an orthogonal and diverse toolkit for a variety of signal processing tasks. Here we report that two-component pathways could be partially reconstituted in mammalian cell culture and used for programmable control of gene expression. To enable this reconstitution, coding sequences of histidine kinase (HK) and response regulator (RR) components were codon-optimized for human cells, whereas the RRs were fused with a transactivation domain. Responsive promoters were furnished by fusing DNA binding sites in front of a minimal promoter. We found that coexpression of HKs and their cognate RRs in cultured mammalian cells is necessary and sufficient to strongly induce gene expression even in the absence of pathways’ chemical triggers in the medium. Both loss-of-function and constitutive mutants behaved as expected. We further used the two-component signaling pathways to implement two-input logical AND, NOR, and OR gene regulation. Thus, two-component systems can be applied in different capacities in mammalian cells and their components can be used for large-scale synthetic gene circuits."
to:NB  molecular_biology  biochemical_networks  computation 
17 days ago
Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"A mass depopulation of cockroaches has been observed since the beginning of the 21st century in Russia and other countries of the former USSR. Observers note quick disappearance of various types of cockroaches from cities and towns in Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus."
insects  post-soviet_life  via:yorksranter 
17 days ago
globalinequality: For Whom the Wall Fell? A balance-sheet of transition to capitalism
"In the bottom group, of absolute failures, we have seven countries with a combined population of almost 80 million (20% of the population of all “transition” countries). They are, in order of the extent of their failure: Tajikistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Kyrgyz Republic, Georgia, Bosnia and Serbia. All ... have been involved in civil or international conflicts. None is likely to reach its 1990 income any time soon. Basically, they are countries with at least three to four wasted generations. At current rates of growth, it might take them some 50 or 60 years—longer that they were under Communism!—to go back to the income levels they had at the fall of Communism.
"The relative failures include four countries (Macedonia, Croatia, Russia and Hungary). They, because of the large size of Russia, comprise 160 million people and represent the dominant of our four groups. Some 40% of transition countries’ populations live there. Their growth rates have been less or around 1% per capita.
"Those that are managing not to fall further behind the rich capitalist world are five: Czech republic, Slovenia, Turkmenistan, Lithuania and Romania. They include 40 million people (10% of transition countries’ total). Their growth rates have been between 1.7 and 1.9 percent per capita annually.
"Finally, we come to the success cases, those that are catching up with the rich world. There are 12 countries in this group., and in increasing order of success they are: Uzbekistan and Latvia (average growth rate of 2%), Bulgaria (2.2%), Slovakia and Kazakhstan (2.4%), Azerbaijan, Estonia, Mongolia and Armenia (around 3%), Belarus (3.5%), Poland (3.7%) and Albania (3.9%). The population living there amounts to 120 million (almost a third of the total).
"If we concentrate on success cases, several of them (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) are resource-rich economies whose success is entirely explained by the exploitation of hydrocarbons, gold or other minerals. The real capitalist successes are only five: Albania, Poland, Belarus, Armenia and Estonia, having grown by at least 3% per capita per annum, almost at twice the rate of rich countries, and without an obvious help of natural resources. Armenia is particularly remarkable since its original period of transition was rocky due to the war with Azerbaijan.
...
"So, what is the balance-sheet of transition? Only three or at most five or six countries could be said to be on the road to becoming a part of the rich and (relatively) stable capitalist world. Many are falling behind, and some are so far behind that they cannot aspire to go back to the point where they were when the Wall fell for several decades..."
post-soviet_life  economics  economic_growth  economic_history  political_economy  the_nightmare_from_which_we_are_trying_to_awake 
18 days ago
No Silver Bullet (Brooks, 1986)
Interesting to think about what this got right, and what (if anything) it didn't.
have_read  via:?  programming  software_engineering  complexity 
22 days ago
Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason Since 1945 (Experimental Futures) by Orit Halpern - Powell's Books
"Beautiful Data is both a history of big data and interactivity, and a sophisticated meditation on ideas about vision and cognition in the second half of the twentieth century. Contending that our forms of attention, observation, and truth are contingent and contested, Orit Halpern historicizes the ways that we are trained, and train ourselves, to observe and analyze the world. Tracing the postwar impact of cybernetics and the communication sciences on the social and human sciences, design, arts, and urban planning, she finds a radical shift in attitudes toward recording and displaying information. These changed attitudes produced what she calls communicative objectivity: new forms of observation, rationality, and economy based on the management and analysis of data. Halpern complicates assumptions about the value of data and visualization, arguing that changes in how we manage and train perception, and define reason and intelligence, are also transformations in governmentality. She also challenges the paradoxical belief that we are experiencing a crisis of attention caused by digital media, a crisis that can be resolved only through intensified media consumption."
to:NB  books:noted  visual_display_of_quantitative_information  data_analysis  history_of_ideas 
24 days ago
Probability: The Classical Limit Theorems
"Probability theory has been extraordinarily successful at describing a variety of phenomena, from the behaviour of gases to the transmission of messages, and is, besides, a powerful tool with applications throughout mathematics. At its heart are a number of concepts familiar in one guise or another to many: Gauss' bell-shaped curve, the law of averages, and so on, concepts that crop up in so many settings they are in some sense universal. This universality is predicted by probability theory to a remarkable degree. This book explains that theory and investigates its ramifications. Assuming a good working knowledge of basic analysis, real and complex, the author maps out a route from basic probability, via random walks, Brownian motion, the law of large numbers and the central limit theorem, to aspects of ergodic theorems, equilibrium and nonequilibrium statistical mechanics, communication over a noisy channel, and random matrices."
to:NB  probability  books:noted  ergodic_theory  central_limit_theorem  stochastic_processes 
25 days ago
Optimization Models | Cambridge University Press
"Emphasizing practical understanding over the technicalities of specific algorithms, this elegant textbook is an accessible introduction to the field of optimization, focusing on powerful and reliable convex optimization techniques. Students and practitioners will learn how to recognize, simplify, model and solve optimization problems - and apply these principles to their own projects. A clear and self-contained introduction to linear algebra demonstrates core mathematical concepts in a way that is easy to follow, and helps students to understand their practical relevance. Requiring only a basic understanding of geometry, calculus, probability and statistics, and striking a careful balance between accessibility and rigor, it enables students to quickly understand the material, without being overwhelmed by complex mathematics. Accompanied by numerous end-of-chapter problems, an online solutions manual for instructors, and relevant examples from diverse fields including engineering, data science, economics, finance, and management, this is the perfect introduction to optimization for undergraduate and graduate students."
in_NB  optimization  convexity  books:noted  to_teach:statcomp  to_teach:freshman_seminar_on_optimization 
25 days ago
Religious Networks in the Roman Empire The Spread of New Ideas | Ancient history | Cambridge University Press
"The first three centuries AD saw the spread of new religious ideas through the Roman Empire, crossing a vast and diverse geographical, social and cultural space. In this innovative study, Anna Collar explores both how this happened and why. Drawing on research in the sociology and anthropology of religion, physics and computer science, Collar explores the relationship between social networks and religious transmission to explore why some religious movements succeed, while others, seemingly equally successful at a certain time, ultimately fail. Using extensive epigraphic data, Collar provides new interpretations of the diffusion of ideas across the social networks of the Jewish Diaspora and the cults of Jupiter Dolichenus and Theos Hypsistos, and in turn offers important reappraisals of the spread of religious innovations in the Roman Empire. This study will be a valuable resource for students and scholars of ancient history, archaeology, ancient religion and network theory."
in_NB  books:noted  epidemiology_of_representations  history_of_religion  ancient_history  roman_empire  social_networks  social_life_of_the_mind  diffusion_of_innovations 
25 days ago
Warlords, Strongman Governors, and the State in Afghanistan | Comparative law | Cambridge University Press
"Warlords have come to represent enemies of peace, security, and “good governance” in the collective intellectual imagination. In this book Dipali Mukhopadhyay asserts that, in fact, not all warlords are created equal. Under certain conditions, some of these much-maligned actors are both able and willing to become effective governors on behalf of the state. This provocative argument is based on extensive fieldwork in Afghanistan, where Mukhopadhyay examined warlord-governors who have served as valuable exponents of the Karzai regime in its struggle to assert control over key segments of the countryside. She explores the complex ecosystems that came to constitute provincial political life after 2001 and goes on to expose the rise of “strongman” governance in two important Afghan provinces. While this brand of governance falls far short of international expectations, its emergence reflects the reassertion of the Afghan state in material and symbolic terms that deserve our attention. This book pushes past canonical views of warlordism and state building to consider the logic of the weak state as it has arisen in challenging, conflict-ridden societies like Afghanistan."
in_NB  afghanistan  war  state-building 
25 days ago
Big Brother’s Liberal Friends — Crooked Timber
A typically outstanding comment from Bruce Wilder is worth recording here in full:

"The apparatus of surveillance and the system of classification are both parts of a vast system of secrecy — aspects of the architecture of the secret state, the deep state.
"I’ve had a security clearance, and so have some personal acquaintance with the system of classification and what is classified, why it is classified and so on, as well as experience with the effect classification has on people, their behavior and administration. I see people sometimes elaborate the claim that, of course the state must have the capacity to keep some information confidential, which is undoubtedly true, but sidesteps the central issue, which is, what does the system of classification do? what does the secrecy of the deep state do? What is the function of the system of classification?
"From my personal acquaintance, I do not think it can be said that its function is to keep secrets. Real secrets are rarely classified. Information is classified so that it can be communicated, and in the present system operated by the U.S. military and intelligence establishment, broadcast. I suppose, without knowing as an historic fact, that the system of classification originated during WWII as a means to distribute information on a need-to-know basis, but that’s not what goes on now. The compartmentalization that the term, classification, implies, is largely absent. That Manning or Snowden could obtain and release the sheer volume of documents that they did — not the particular content of any of them — is the first and capital revelation concerning what the system is, and is not. The system is not keeping confidential information confidential, nor is it keeping secrets; it is broadcasting information.
"The very idea that a system that broadcasts information in a way that allows someone at the level of a Manning or Snowden to accumulate vast numbers of documents has kept any secrets from the secret services of China or Russia is, on its face, absurd. The system revealed by the simple fact of the nature of Snowden’s and Manning’s breaches is not capable of keeping secrets. Snowden was a contractor at a peripheral location, Manning a soldier of very low rank."
national_surveillance_state  to:blog 
25 days ago
Instagram and Art Theory
Hmmm. I bounced off _Ways of Seeing_ as a college freshman, but maybe it's time to revisit...
art  art_criticism  photography  social_media  rhetorical_self-fashioning  presentation_of_self 
26 days ago
Information Networks: Evidence from Illegal Insider Trading Tips by Kenneth R. Ahern :: SSRN
The description given by A. Z. Jacobs cannot be bettered: "Insider trading happening adorably between childhood BFFs, not professional contacts." (https://twitter.com/az_jacobs/status/525003389713653761)

--- After reading through: a truly heroic piece of data acquisition. Not wild about things like OLS and ordinal logistic regression (would it hurt you to use a spline once in a while?), but probably wouldn't affect the over-all trend, which is all this is really good for. One thought not explored here: might the tendency for those further down a tip chain to make more money be part of how these particular networks got caught? (He's sensitive on the, to put it delicately, sample-selection biases, but doesn't go into whether that might be one of them.)
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26 days ago
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