Mathematics of Epidemics on Networks - From Exact to | István Z. Kiss | Springer
"This textbook provides an exciting new addition to the area of network science featuring a stronger and more methodical link of models to their mathematical origin and explains how these relate to each other with special focus on epidemic spread on networks. The content of the book is at the interface of graph theory, stochastic processes and dynamical systems. The authors set out to make a significant contribution to closing the gap between model development and the supporting mathematics. This is done by:
"Summarising and presenting the state-of-the-art in modeling epidemics on networks with results and readily usable models signposted throughout the book;
"Presenting different mathematical approaches to formulate exact and solvable models;
"Identifying the concrete links between approximate models and their rigorous mathematical representation;
"Presenting a model hierarchy and clearly highlighting the links between model assumptions and model complexity;
"Providing a reference source for advanced undergraduate students, as well as doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and academic experts who are engaged in modeling stochastic processes on networks;
"Providing software that can solve differential equation models or directly simulate epidemics on networks.
"Replete with numerous diagrams, examples, instructive exercises, and online access to simulation algorithms and readily usable code, this book will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers from different backgrounds and academic levels. Appropriate for students with or without a strong background in mathematics, this textbook can form the basis of an advanced undergraduate or graduate course in both mathematics and other departments alike."
in_NB  books:noted  epidemic_models  networks  re:do-institutions-evolve  to_teach:baby-nets  in_library  downloaded 
Cellular Automata: Analysis and Applications | Karl-Peter Hadeler | Springer
"This book provides an overview of the main approaches used to analyze the dynamics of cellular automata. Cellular automata are an indispensable tool in mathematical modeling. In contrast to classical modeling approaches like partial differential equations, cellular automata are relatively easy to simulate but difficult to analyze. In this book we present a review of approaches and theories that allow the reader to understand the behavior of cellular automata beyond simulations. The first part consists of an introduction to cellular automata on Cayley graphs, and their characterization via the fundamental Cutis-Hedlund-Lyndon theorems in the context of various topological concepts (Cantor, Besicovitch and Weyl topology). The second part focuses on classification results: What classification follows from topological concepts (Hurley classification), Lyapunov stability (Gilman classification), and the theory of formal languages and grammars (Kůrka classification)? These classifications suggest that cellular automata be clustered, similar to the classification of partial differential equations into hyperbolic, parabolic and elliptic equations. This part of the book culminates in the question of whether the properties of cellular automata are decidable. Surjectivity and injectivity are examined, and the seminal Garden of Eden theorems are discussed. In turn, the third part focuses on the analysis of cellular automata that inherit distinct properties, often based on mathematical modeling of biological, physical or chemical systems. Linearity is a concept that allows us to define self-similar limit sets. Models for particle motion show how to bridge the gap between cellular automata and partial differential equations (HPP model and ultradiscrete limit). Pattern formation is related to linear cellular automata, to the Bar-Yam model for the Turing pattern, and Greenberg-Hastings automata for excitable media. In addition, models for sand piles, the dynamics of infectious diseases, and evolution of predator-prey systems are discussed. Mathematicians will find an essential overview of theory and tools used for the analysis of cellular automata. The book also features an appendix introducing the reader to basic mathematical techniques and notations, so that physicists, chemists and biologists interested in cellular automata beyond pure simulations will also benefit from the book."
to:NB  books:noted  cellular_automata 
McAdams, A.J.: Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party. (eBook and Hardcover)
"Vanguard of the Revolution is a sweeping history of one of the most significant political institutions of the modern world. The communist party was a revolutionary idea long before its supporters came to power. In this book, A. James McAdams argues that the rise and fall of communism can be understood only by taking into account the origins and evolution of this compelling idea. He shows how the leaders of parties in countries as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, Germany, Yugoslavia, Cuba, and North Korea adapted the original ideas of revolutionaries like Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin to profoundly different social and cultural settings.
"Taking readers from the drafting of The Communist Manifesto in the 1840s to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, McAdams describes the decisive role played by individual rulers in the success of their respective parties—men like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Fidel Castro. He demonstrates how these personalities drew on vying conceptions of the party’s functions to mesmerize their followers, mobilize their populations, and transform their societies. He also shows how many of these figures abused these ideas to justify incomprehensible acts of inhumanity. McAdams explains why communist parties lasted as long as they did, and why they either disappeared or ceased to be meaningful institutions by the close of the twentieth century."
to:NB  books:noted  20th_century_history  communism  politics  history_of_ideas 
8 days ago
Random Measures, Theory and Applications | Olav Kallenberg | Springer
"Offering the first comprehensive treatment of the theory of random measures, this book has a very broad scope, ranging from basic properties of Poisson and related processes to the modern theories of convergence, stationarity, Palm measures, conditioning, and compensation. The three large final chapters focus on applications within the areas of stochastic geometry, excursion theory, and branching processes. Although this theory plays a fundamental role in most areas of modern probability, much of it, including the most basic material, has previously been available only in scores of journal articles. The book is primarily directed towards researchers and advanced graduate students in stochastic processes and related areas."
to:NB  books:noted  probability  stochastic_processes  ergodic_theory  kallenberg.olav  coveted 
8 days ago
Asymptotic Theory of Weakly Dependent Random Processes | Emmanuel Rio | Springer
"Presenting tools to aid understanding of asymptotic theory and weakly dependent processes, this book is devoted to inequalities and limit theorems for sequences of random variables that are strongly mixing in the sense of Rosenblatt, or absolutely regular.
"The first chapter introduces covariance inequalities under strong mixing or absolute regularity. These covariance inequalities are applied in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 to moment inequalities, rates of convergence in the strong law, and central limit theorems. Chapter 5 concerns coupling. In Chapter 6 new deviation inequalities and new moment inequalities for partial sums via the coupling lemmas of Chapter 5 are derived and applied to the bounded law of the iterated logarithm. Chapters 7 and 8 deal with the theory of empirical processes under weak dependence. Lastly, Chapter 9 describes links between ergodicity, return times and rates of mixing in the case of irreducible Markov chains. Each chapter ends with a set of exercises.
"The book is an updated and extended translation of the French edition entitled "Théorie asymptotique des processus aléatoires faiblement dépendants" (Springer, 2000). It will be useful for students and researchers in mathematical statistics, econometrics, probability theory and dynamical systems who are interested in weakly dependent processes."
to:NB  books:noted  stochastic_processes  mixing  ergodic_theory  markov_models 
8 days ago
[FoR&AI] The Seven Deadly Sins of Predicting the Future of AI – Rodney Brooks
It's a bit depressing that _Rodney Brooks_ feels he needs to take the time to say these obvious things.
ai  robots_and_robotics  utter_stupidity  brooks.rodney  via:whimsley  have_read 
9 days ago
Bok, D.: The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges (eBook and Hardcover).
"During the first decade of this century, many commentators predicted that American higher education was about to undergo major changes that would be brought about under the stimulus of online learning and other technological advances. Toward the end of the decade, the president of the United States declared that America would regain its historic lead in the education of its workforce within the next ten years through a huge increase in the number of students earning “quality” college degrees.
"Several years have elapsed since these pronouncements were made, yet the rate of progress has increased very little, if at all, in the number of college graduates or the nature and quality of the education they receive. In The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges, Derek Bok seeks to explain why so little change has occurred by analyzing the response of America’s colleges; the influence of students, employers, foundations, accrediting organizations, and government officials; and the impact of market forces and technological innovation. In the last part of the book, Bok identifies a number of initiatives that could improve the performance of colleges and universities. The final chapter examines the process of change itself and describes the strategy best calculated to quicken the pace of reform and enable colleges to meet the challenges that confront them."
to:NB  books:noted  education  academia  bok.derek 
11 days ago
[1709.02012v1] On Fairness and Calibration
"The machine learning community has become increasingly concerned with the potential for bias and discrimination in predictive models, and this has motivated a growing line of work on what it means for a classification procedure to be "fair." In particular, we investigate the tension between minimizing error disparity across different population groups while maintaining calibrated probability estimates. We show that calibration is compatible only with a single error constraint (i.e. equal false-negatives rates across groups), and show that any algorithm that satisfies this relaxation is no better than randomizing a percentage of predictions for an existing classifier. These unsettling findings, which extend and generalize existing results, are empirically confirmed on several datasets."
to:NB  to_read  calibration  prediction  classifiers  kleinberg.jon  via:arsyed 
12 days ago
A new paradigm for the introductory course in economics | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
"Our intro courses fail to reflect the dramatic advances in economics – concerning information problems and strategic interactions, for example – since Samuelson’s paradigm-setting 1948 textbook. Missing, too, is any sustained engagement with new problems we now confront and on which economics has important insights for public policy – climate change, innovation, instability and growing inequality amongst them. This column introduces a free online interactive text – now used as the standard intro at UCL, Sciences Po, and Toulouse School of Economics – which responds."
economics  market_failures_in_everything  markets_as_collective_calculating_devices  kith_and_kin  bowles.samuel  have_read  via:?  game_theory  behavioral_economics  inequality 
14 days ago
Book Review: A Coming of (Information) Age Story | Issues in Science and Technology
This is mostly a very nice review of what sounds like a very interesting book. I would quibble somewhat though with the distinction drawn between Wiener's approach and that of someone like Simon or Minsky, however. Wiener was _very_ interested in how one might reproduce the functional, input/output behavior of a black box by approximating it with a sufficiently powerful system of white boxes. (This is the whole point of his book _Nonlinear Problems in Random Theory_.) . Given his mathematical background, he tended to think of the white box as expanding a function in a power series (or really a series of integrals against memory kernels; see NPiRT), but the important point was universal approximation, which a general-purpose digital computer certainly has in spades. I don't see how this is notably more "embodied" than what Simon or Minsky talked about; it's very much in line with the functionalism of "good old-fashioned AI".
(And I really have no idea what D.A. could be thinking of to say that "deep learning" is more embodied/enactive than classical AI...)

ObSelfLinkage: http://bactra.org/notebooks/cybernetics.html
book_reviews  have_read  cybernetics  information_theory  history_of_science  auerbach.david 
14 days ago
As If — Kwame Anthony Appiah | Harvard University Press
"Idealization is a fundamental feature of human thought. We build simplified models in our scientific research and utopias in our political imaginations. Concepts like belief, desire, reason, and justice are bound up with idealizations and ideals. Life is a constant adjustment between the models we make and the realities we encounter. In idealizing, we proceed “as if” our representations were true, while knowing they are not. This is not a dangerous or distracting occupation, Kwame Anthony Appiah shows. Our best chance of understanding nature, society, and ourselves is to open our minds to a plurality of imperfect depictions that together allow us to manage and interpret our world.
"The philosopher Hans Vaihinger first delineated the “as if” impulse at the turn of the twentieth century, drawing on Kant, who argued that rational agency required us to act as if we were free. Appiah extends this strategy to examples across philosophy and the human and natural sciences. In a broad range of activities, we have some notion of the truth yet continue with theories that we recognize are, strictly speaking, false. From this vantage point, Appiah demonstrates that a picture one knows to be unreal can be a vehicle for accessing reality.
"As If explores how strategic untruth plays a critical role in far-flung areas of inquiry: decision theory, psychology, natural science, and political philosophy. A polymath who writes with mainstream clarity, Appiah defends the centrality of the imagination not just in the arts but in science, morality, and everyday life."
to:NB  books:noted  philosophy  epistemology  philosophy_of_science  approximation  modeling 
15 days ago
The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better, Koretz
"For decades we’ve been studying, experimenting with, and wrangling over different approaches to improving public education, and there’s still little consensus on what works, and what to do. The one thing people seem to agree on, however, is that schools need to be held accountable—we need to know whether what they’re doing is actually working. But what does that mean in practice?
"High-stakes tests. Lots of them. And that has become a major problem. Daniel Koretz, one of the nation’s foremost experts on educational testing, argues in The Testing Charade that the whole idea of test-based accountability has failed—it has increasingly become an end in itself, harming students and corrupting the very ideals of teaching. In this powerful polemic, built on unimpeachable evidence and rooted in decades of experience with educational testing, Koretz calls out high-stakes testing as a sham, a false idol that is ripe for manipulation and shows little evidence of leading to educational improvement. Rather than setting up incentives to divert instructional time to pointless test prep, he argues, we need to measure what matters, and measure it in multiple ways—not just via standardized tests.
"Right now, we’re lying to ourselves about whether our children are learning. And the longer we accept that lie, the more damage we do. It’s time to end our blind reliance on high-stakes tests. With The Testing Charade, Daniel Koretz insists that we face the facts and change course, and he gives us a blueprint for doing better. "
to:NB  books:noted  education  social_measurement  standardized_testing  mental_testing  re:g_paper 
16 days ago
Signs from Silence: Ur of the First Sumerians, Charvát
"The Royal Tombs of Ur, dating from approximately 3000–2700 BCE, are among the most famous and impressive archeological discoveries of the twentieth century. Excavated between 1922 and 1934 under the direction of Leonard Woolley, this site is one of the richest sources of information we have about ancient Sumer—however, many mysteries about the society that produced these tombs remain. Based on primary research with the Ur materials at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, and paying particular attention to the iconography found in what Woolley referred to as the “Seal Impression Strata of Ur,” this book works to reconstruct the early history of Sumer. What was this society like? What social structures did this society build? What were its institutions of authority? The answers Petr Charvát proposes are of interest not only to archeologists, but to anyone fascinated by early human history."
to:NB  books:noted  ancient_history  mesopotamia 
16 days ago
Foldamer hypothesis for the growth and sequence differentiation of prebiotic polymers
"It is not known how life originated. It is thought that prebiotic processes were able to synthesize short random polymers. However, then, how do short-chain molecules spontaneously grow longer? Also, how would random chains grow more informational and become autocatalytic (i.e., increasing their own concentrations)? We study the folding and binding of random sequences of hydrophobic (HH) and polar (PP) monomers in a computational model. We find that even short hydrophobic polar (HP) chains can collapse into relatively compact structures, exposing hydrophobic surfaces. In this way, they act as primitive versions of today’s protein catalysts, elongating other such HP polymers as ribosomes would now do. Such foldamer catalysts are shown to form an autocatalytic set, through which short chains grow into longer chains that have particular sequences. An attractive feature of this model is that it does not overconverge to a single solution; it gives ensembles that could further evolve under selection. This mechanism describes how specific sequences and conformations could contribute to the chemistry-to-biology (CTB) transition."
to:NB  biophysics  polymers  origin_of_life  self-organization 
16 days ago
On transient climate change at the Cretaceous−Paleogene boundary due to atmospheric soot injections
"Climate simulations that consider injection into the atmosphere of 15,000 Tg of soot, the amount estimated to be present at the Cretaceous−Paleogene boundary, produce what might have been one of the largest episodes of transient climate change in Earth history. The observed soot is believed to originate from global wildfires ignited after the impact of a 10-km-diameter asteroid on the Yucatán Peninsula 66 million y ago. Following injection into the atmosphere, the soot is heated by sunlight and lofted to great heights, resulting in a worldwide soot aerosol layer that lasts several years. As a result, little or no sunlight reaches the surface for over a year, such that photosynthesis is impossible and continents and oceans cool by as much as 28 °C and 11 °C, respectively. The absorption of light by the soot heats the upper atmosphere by hundreds of degrees. These high temperatures, together with a massive injection of water, which is a source of odd-hydrogen radicals, destroy the stratospheric ozone layer, such that Earth’s surface receives high doses of UV radiation for about a year once the soot clears, five years after the impact. Temperatures remain above freezing in the oceans, coastal areas, and parts of the Tropics, but photosynthesis is severely inhibited for the first 1 y to 2 y, and freezing temperatures persist at middle latitudes for 3 y to 4 y. Refugia from these effects would have been very limited. The transient climate perturbation ends abruptly as the stratosphere cools and becomes supersaturated, causing rapid dehydration that removes all remaining soot via wet deposition."
to:NB  paleontology  climatology 
16 days ago
Social network fragmentation and community health
"Community health interventions often seek to intentionally destroy paths between individuals to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Immunizing individuals through direct vaccination or the provision of health education prevents pathogen transmission and the propagation of misinformation concerning medical treatments. However, it remains an open question whether network-based strategies should be used in place of conventional field approaches to target individuals for medical treatment in low-income countries. We collected complete friendship and health advice networks in 17 rural villages of Mayuge District, Uganda. Here we show that acquaintance algorithms, i.e., selecting neighbors of randomly selected nodes, were systematically more efficient in fragmenting all networks than targeting well-established community roles, i.e., health workers, village government members, and schoolteachers. Additionally, community roles were not good proxy indicators of physical proximity to other households or connections to many sick people. We also show that acquaintance algorithms were effective in offsetting potential noncompliance with deworming treatments for 16,357 individuals during mass drug administration (MDA). Health advice networks were destroyed more easily than friendship networks. Only an average of 32% of nodes were removed from health advice networks to reduce the percentage of nodes at risk for refusing treatment in MDA to below 25%. Treatment compliance of at least 75% is needed in MDA to control human morbidity attributable to parasitic worms and progress toward elimination. Our findings point toward the potential use of network-based approaches as an alternative to role-based strategies for targeting individuals in rural health interventions."
to:NB  social_networks  epidemiology_of_representations  social_influence  networks  re:do-institutions-evolve 
16 days ago
Architectural Intelligence | The MIT Press
"In Architectural Intelligence, Molly Wright Steenson explores the work of four architects in the 1960s and 1970s who incorporated elements of interactivity into their work. Christopher Alexander, Richard Saul Wurman, Cedric Price, and Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Architecture Machine Group all incorporated technologies—including cybernetics and artificial intelligence—into their work and influenced digital design practices from the late 1980s to the present day.
"Alexander, long before his famous 1977 book A Pattern Language, used computation and structure to visualize design problems; Wurman popularized the notion of “information architecture”; Price designed some of the first intelligent buildings; and Negroponte experimented with the ways people experience artificial intelligence, even at architectural scale. Steenson investigates how these architects pushed the boundaries of architecture—and how their technological experiments pushed the boundaries of technology. What did computational, cybernetic, and artificial intelligence researchers have to gain by engaging with architects and architectural problems? And what was this new space that emerged within these collaborations? At times, Steenson writes, the architects in this book characterized themselves as anti-architects and their work as anti-architecture. The projects Steenson examines mostly did not result in constructed buildings, but rather in design processes and tools, computer programs, interfaces, digital environments. Alexander, Wurman, Price, and Negroponte laid the foundation for many of our contemporary interactive practices, from information architecture to interaction design, from machine learning to smart cities."

--- Christopher Alexander's early work is very interesting; _Notes on the Synthesis of Form_, in particular, is a brilliant-if-slightly-mad book, which anticipates, in some ways, the work since the 2000s on community discovery in network theory.
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_technology  computers  architecture  alexander.christopher 
16 days ago
The Grid | The MIT Press
"The North American power grid has been called the world’s largest machine. The grid connects nearly every living soul on the continent; Americans rely utterly on the miracle of electrification. In this book, Julie Cohn tells the history of the grid, from early linkages in the 1890s through the grid’s maturity as a networked infrastructure in the 1980s. She focuses on the strategies and technologies used to control power on the grid—in fact made up of four major networks of interconnected power systems—paying particular attention to the work of engineers and system operators who handled the everyday operations. To do so, she consulted sources that range from the pages of historical trade journals to corporate archives to the papers of her father, Nathan Cohn, who worked in the industry from 1927 to 1989—roughly the period of key power control innovations across North America.
"Cohn investigates major challenges and major breakthroughs but also the hidden aspects of our electricity infrastructure, both technical and human. She describes the origins of the grid and the growth of interconnection; emerging control issues, including difficulties in matching generation and demand on linked systems; collaboration and competition against the backdrop of economic depression and government infrastructure investment; the effects of World War II on electrification; postwar plans for a coast-to-coast grid; the northeast blackout of 1965 and the East-West closure of 1967; and renewed efforts at achieving stability and reliability after those two events."
in_NB  books:noted  american_history  history_of_technology  infrastructure  the_present_before_it_was_widely_distributed  the_electrification_of_the_whole_country  in_wishlist 
16 days ago
Machine Learners | The MIT Press
"Machine learning—programming computers to learn from data—has spread across scientific disciplines, media, entertainment, and government. Medical research, autonomous vehicles, credit transaction processing, computer gaming, recommendation systems, finance, surveillance, and robotics use machine learning. Machine learning devices (sometimes understood as scientific models, sometimes as operational algorithms) anchor the field of data science. They have also become mundane mechanisms deeply embedded in a variety of systems and gadgets. In contexts from the everyday to the esoteric, machine learning is said to transform the nature of knowledge. In this book, Adrian Mackenzie investigates whether machine learning also transforms the practice of critical thinking.
"Mackenzie focuses on machine learners—either humans and machines or human-machine relations—situated among settings, data, and devices. The settings range from fMRI to Facebook; the data anything from cat images to DNA sequences; the devices include neural networks, support vector machines, and decision trees. He examines specific learning algorithms—writing code and writing about code—and develops an archaeology of operations that, following Foucault, views machine learning as a form of knowledge production and a strategy of power. Exploring layers of abstraction, data infrastructures, coding practices, diagrams, mathematical formalisms, and the social organization of machine learning, Mackenzie traces the mostly invisible architecture of one of the central zones of contemporary technological cultures.
"Mackenzie’s account of machine learning locates places in which a sense of agency can take root. His archaeology of the operational formation of machine learning does not unearth the footprint of a strategic monolith but reveals the local tributaries of force that feed into the generalization and plurality of the field."

--- We really need good histories, and critical studies, of ML, but the mere style of rhetoric here makes me suspicious of whether the author is up to the job. (Which is a prejudice...) . Last tag applies.
to:NB  books:noted  machine_learning  philosophy_of_science  in_wishlist  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
16 days ago
True Enough | The MIT Press
"Philosophy valorizes truth, holding that there can never be epistemically good reasons to accept a known falsehood, or to accept modes of justification that are not truth conducive. How can this stance account for the epistemic standing of science, which unabashedly relies on models, idealizations, and thought experiments that are known not to be true? In True Enough, Catherine Elgin argues that we should not assume that the inaccuracy of models and idealizations constitutes an inadequacy. To the contrary, their divergence from truth or representational accuracy fosters their epistemic functioning. When effective, models and idealizations are, Elgin contends, felicitous falsehoods that exemplify features of the phenomena they bear on. Because works of art deploy the same sorts of felicitous falsehoods, she argues, they also advance understanding.
"Elgin develops a holistic epistemology that focuses on the understanding of broad ranges of phenomena rather than knowledge of individual facts. Epistemic acceptability, she maintains, is a matter not of truth-conduciveness, but of what would be reflectively endorsed by the members of an idealized epistemic community—a quasi-Kantian realm of epistemic ends."

--- Well, the first part sounds interesting...
to:NB  books:noted  modeling  epistemology  philosophy_of_science 
16 days ago
Communism for Kids | The MIT Press
"Once upon a time, people yearned to be free of the misery of capitalism. How could their dreams come true? This little book proposes a different kind of communism, one that is true to its ideals and free from authoritarianism. Offering relief for many who have been numbed by Marxist exegesis and given headaches by the earnest pompousness of socialist politics, it presents political theory in the simple terms of a children’s story, accompanied by illustrations of lovable little revolutionaries experiencing their political awakening.
"It all unfolds like a story, with jealous princesses, fancy swords, displaced peasants, mean bosses, and tired workers–not to mention a Ouija board, a talking chair, and a big pot called “the state.” Before they know it, readers are learning about the economic history of feudalism, class struggles in capitalism, different ideas of communism, and more. Finally, competition between two factories leads to a crisis that the workers attempt to solve in six different ways (most of them borrowed from historic models of communist or socialist change). Each attempt fails, since true communism is not so easy after all. But it’s also not that hard. At last, the people take everything into their own hands and decide for themselves how to continue. Happy ending? Only the future will tell. With an epilogue that goes deeper into the theoretical issues behind the story, this book is perfect for all ages and all who desire a better world."
to:NB  books:noted  socialism  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
16 days ago
A Mark of the Mental | The MIT Press
"In A Mark of the Mental, Karen Neander considers the representational power of mental states—described by the cognitive scientist Zenon Pylyshyn as the “second hardest puzzle” of philosophy of mind (the first being consciousness). The puzzle at the heart of the book is sometimes called “the problem of mental content,” “Brentano’s problem,” or “the problem of intentionality.” Its motivating mystery is how neurobiological states can have semantic properties such as meaning or reference. Neander proposes a naturalistic account for sensory-perceptual (nonconceptual) representations.
"Neander draws on insights from state-space semantics (which appeals to relations of second-order similarity between representing and represented domains), causal theories of reference (which claim the reference relation is a causal one), and teleosemantic theories (which claim that semantic norms, at their simplest, depend on functional norms). She proposes and defends an intuitive, theoretically well-motivated but highly controversial thesis: sensory-perceptual systems have the function to produce inner state changes that are the analogs of as well as caused by their referents. Neander shows that the three main elements—functions, causal-information relations, and relations of second-order similarity—complement rather than conflict with each other. After developing an argument for teleosemantics by examining the nature of explanation in the mind and brain sciences, she develops a theory of mental content and defends it against six main content-determinacy challenges to a naturalized semantics."
to:NB  books:noted  philosophy_of_mind  cognitive_science 
16 days ago
Minitel | The MIT Press
"A decade before the Internet became a medium for the masses in the United States, tens of millions of users in France had access to a network for e-mail, e-commerce, chat, research, game playing, blogging, and even an early form of online porn. In 1983, the French government rolled out Minitel, a computer network that achieved widespread adoption in just a few years as the government distributed free terminals to every French telephone subscriber. With this volume, Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll offer the first scholarly book in English on Minitel, examining it as both a technical system and a cultural phenomenon.
"Mailland and Driscoll argue that Minitel was a technical marvel, a commercial success, and an ambitious social experiment. Other early networks may have introduced protocols and software standards that continue to be used today, but Minitel foretold the social effects of widespread telecomputing. They examine the unique balance of forces that enabled the growth of Minitel: public and private, open and closed, centralized and decentralized. Mailland and Driscoll describe Minitel’s key technological components, novel online services, and thriving virtual communities. Despite the seemingly tight grip of the state, however, a lively Minitel culture emerged, characterized by spontaneity, imagination, and creativity. After three decades of continuous service, Minitel was shut down in 2012, but the history of Minitel should continue to inform our thinking about Internet policy, today and into the future."
to:NB  books:noted  networked_life  the_present_before_it_was_widely_distributed 
16 days ago
Minding the Weather | The MIT Press
"This book argues that the human cognition system is the least understood, yet probably most important, component of forecasting accuracy. Minding the Weather investigates how people acquire massive and highly organized knowledge and develop the reasoning skills and strategies that enable them to achieve the highest levels of performance.
"The authors consider such topics as the forecasting workplace; atmospheric scientists’ descriptions of their reasoning strategies; the nature of expertise; forecaster knowledge, perceptual skills, and reasoning; and expert systems designed to imitate forecaster reasoning. Drawing on research in cognitive science, meteorology, and computer science, the authors argue that forecasting involves an interdependence of humans and technologies. Human expertise will always be necessary."
to:NB  prediction  meteorology  cognitive_science  books:noted 
16 days ago
Real-World Algorithms | The MIT Press
"Algorithms are what we do in order not to have to do something. Algorithms consist of instructions to carry out tasks—usually dull, repetitive ones. Starting from simple building blocks, computer algorithms enable machines to recognize and produce speech, translate texts, categorize and summarize documents, describe images, and predict the weather. A task that would take hours can be completed in virtually no time by using a few lines of code in a modern scripting program. This book offers an introduction to algorithms through the real-world problems they solve. The algorithms are presented in pseudocode and can readily be implemented in a computer language.
"The book presents algorithms simply and accessibly, without overwhelming readers or insulting their intelligence. Readers should be comfortable with mathematical fundamentals and have a basic understanding of how computers work; all other necessary concepts are explained in the text. After presenting background in pseudocode conventions, basic terminology, and data structures, chapters cover compression, cryptography, graphs, searching and sorting, hashing, classification, strings, and chance. Each chapter describes real problems and then presents algorithms to solve them. Examples illustrate the wide range of applications, including shortest paths as a solution to paragraph line breaks, strongest paths in elections systems, hashes for song recognition, voting power Monte Carlo methods, and entropy for machine learning. Real-World Algorithms can be used by students in disciplines from economics to applied sciences. Computer science majors can read it before using a more technical text."
to:NB  books:noted  algorithms  computation  programming  in_wishlist 
17 days ago
Energy and Civilization | The MIT Press
"Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows—ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity—for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today’s fossil fuel–driven civilization.
"Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts—from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity’s energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil’s Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time."
to:NB  books:noted  energy  history  human_ecology  smil.vaclav 
17 days ago
Israel, J.: The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848. (eBook and Hardcover)
"The Expanding Blaze is a sweeping history of how the American Revolution inspired revolutions throughout Europe and the Atlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Jonathan Israel, one of the world’s leading historians of the Enlightenment, shows how the radical ideas of American founders such as Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Monroe set the pattern for democratic revolutions, movements, and constitutions in France, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Greece, Canada, Haiti, Brazil, and Spanish America.
"The Expanding Blaze reminds us that the American Revolution was an astonishingly radical event—and that it didn’t end with the transformation and independence of America. Rather, the Revolution continued to reverberate in Europe and the Americas for the next three-quarters of a century. This comprehensive history of the Revolution’s international influence traces how American efforts to implement Radical Enlightenment ideas—including the destruction of the old regime and the promotion of democratic republicanism, self-government, and liberty—helped drive revolutions abroad, as foreign leaders explicitly followed the American example and espoused American democratic values."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  american_history  american_revolution  israel.jonathan  in_wishlist 
17 days ago
Don't Fall for Babylonian Trigonometry Hype - Scientific American Blog Network
"Plimpton 322 is a remarkable artifact, and we have much to learn from it. When I taught math history, I loved opening the semester by having my students read a few papers about it to show how much scholarship has gone into understanding such a small document and how accomplished scholars can disagree about what it means. It demonstrates differences in the way different cultures have done mathematics and outstanding computational facility. It has raised questions about how ancient Mesopotamians approached calculation and geometry. But using it to sell a questionable pet theory won’t get us any closer to the answers."
history_of_mathematics  mathematics  ancient_history 
18 days ago
Becker, L.C.: A New Stoicism (Revised Edition) (eBook and Paperback).
"What would stoic ethics be like today if stoicism had survived as a systematic approach to ethical theory, if it had coped successfully with the challenges of modern philosophy and experimental science? A New Stoicism proposes an answer to that question, offered from within the stoic tradition but without the metaphysical and psychological assumptions that modern philosophy and science have abandoned. Lawrence Becker argues that a secular version of the stoic ethical project, based on contemporary cosmology and developmental psychology, provides the basis for a sophisticated form of ethical naturalism, in which virtually all the hard doctrines of the ancient Stoics can be clearly restated and defended.
"Becker argues, in keeping with the ancients, that virtue is one thing, not many; that it, and not happiness, is the proper end of all activity; that it alone is good, all other things being merely rank-ordered relative to each other for the sake of the good; and that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Moreover, he rejects the popular caricature of the stoic as a grave figure, emotionally detached and capable mainly of endurance, resignation, and coping with pain. To the contrary, he holds that while stoic sages are able to endure the extremes of human suffering, they do not have to sacrifice joy to have that ability, and he seeks to turn our attention from the familiar, therapeutic part of stoic moral training to a reconsideration of its theoretical foundations."
to:NB  books:noted  ethics  stoicism  the_good_man_is_happy_on_the_rack 
19 days ago
The Wind of Change: Maritime Technology, Trade, and Economic Development
"The 1870-1913 period marked the birth of the first era of trade globalization. How did this tremendous increase in trade affect economic development? This work isolates a causality channel by exploiting the fact that the introduction of the steamship in the shipping industry produced an asymmetric change in trade distances among countries. Before this invention, trade routes depended on wind patterns. The steamship reduced shipping costs and time in a disproportionate manner across countries and trade routes. Using this source of variation and novel data on shipping, trade, and development, I find that (i) the adoption of the steamship had a major impact on patterns of trade worldwide; (ii) only a small number of countries, characterized by more inclusive institutions, benefited from trade integration; and (iii) globalization was the major driver of the economic divergence between the rich and the poor portions of the world in the years 1850-1900."

--- For "characterized by more inclusive institutions", read "characterized by imperial power"?
to:NB  economics  economic_history  globalization  imperialism  19th_century_history 
21 days ago
Virtual Classrooms: How Online College Courses Affect Student Success
"Online college courses are a rapidly expanding feature of higher education, yet little research identifies their effects relative to traditional in-person classes. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that taking a course online, instead of in-person, reduces student success and progress in college. Grades are lower both for the course taken online and in future courses. Students are less likely to remain enrolled at the university. These estimates are local average treatment effects for students with access to both online and in-person options; for other students, online classes may be the only option for accessing college-level courses."

--- I will be very curious about their instrument, and whether it's at all plausible.
to:NB  education  instrumental_variables  causal_inference  statistics  re:ADAfaEPoV 
21 days ago
McPeek, M.A.: Evolutionary Community Ecology, Volume 58 (eBook and Hardcover).
"Evolutionary Community Ecology develops a unified framework for understanding the structure of ecological communities and the dynamics of natural selection that shape the evolution of the species inhabiting them. All species engage in interactions with many other species, and these interactions regulate their abundance, define their trajectories of natural selection, and shape their movement decisions. Mark McPeek synthesizes the ecological and evolutionary dynamics generated by species interactions that structure local biological communities and regional metacommunities.
"McPeek explores the ecological performance characteristics needed for invasibility and coexistence of species in complex networks of species interactions. This species interaction framework is then extended to examine the ecological dynamics of natural selection that drive coevolution of interacting species in these complex interaction networks. The models of natural selection resulting from species interactions are used to evaluate the ecological conditions that foster diversification at multiple trophic levels. Analyses show that diversification depends on the ecological context in which species interactions occur and the types of traits that define the mechanisms of those species interactions. Lastly, looking at the mechanisms of speciation that affect species richness and diversity at various spatial scales and the consequences of past climate change over the Quaternary period, McPeek considers how metacommunity structure is shaped at regional and biogeographic scales."
to:NB  books:noted  evolutionary_biology  ecology 
22 days ago
Graphical Modeling for Multivariate Hawkes Processes with Nonparametric Link Functions - Eichler - 2016 - Journal of Time Series Analysis - Wiley Online Library
"Hawkes (1971a) introduced a powerful multivariate point process model of mutually exciting processes to explain causal structure in data. In this article, it is shown that the Granger causality structure of such processes is fully encoded in the corresponding link functions of the model. A new nonparametric estimator of the link functions based on a time-discretized version of the point process is introduced by using an infinite order autoregression. Consistency of the new estimator is derived. The estimator is applied to simulated data and to neural spike train data from the spinal dorsal horn of a rat."
to:NB  statistics  time_series  point_processes  graphical_models  neural_data_analysis 
23 days ago
Factor Modelling for High-Dimensional Time Series: Inference and Model Selection - Chan - 2016 - Journal of Time Series Analysis - Wiley Online Library
"Analysis of high-dimensional time series data is of increasing interest among different fields. This article studies high-dimensional time series from a dimension reduction perspective using factor modelling. Statistical inference is conducted using eigen-analysis of a certain non-negative definite matrix related to autocovariance matrices of the time series, which is applicable to fixed or increasing dimension. When the dimension goes to infinity, the rate of convergence and limiting distributions of estimated factors are established. Using the limiting distributions of estimated factors, a high-dimensional final prediction error criterion is proposed to select the number of factors. Asymptotic properties of the criterion are illustrated by simulation studies and real applications."
to:NB  statistics  high-dimensional_statistics  time_series  factor_analysis 
23 days ago
An Internal Answer to the Experimenters’ Regress through the Analysis of the Semantics of Experimental Results and Their Representational Content | Perspectives on Science | MIT Press Journals
"In this paper I analyze and discuss Collins’ Experimenters’ Regress (Collins 1992) and offer an alternative explanation of how to break out of it. The strategy of the paper goes as follows. I will first show that two different, albeit related epistemic problems are confused in the Experimenters’ Regress: (i) the replication regress that consists in the occurrence of an infinite regress when judging whether or not a proper replication of an experiment has been carried out, and (ii) general reciprocity, according to which the determination of the proper functioning of an experiment and the correctness of an experimental outcome are determined reciprocally. I claim that: (1) the soundness of the replication regress requires the soundness of the general reciprocity argument, so by showing the unsoundness of the second we also show the unsoundness of the first. (2) Reciprocity is not problematic on its own; what is problematic is Collins’ explanation of how it is overcome, i.e., his claim that non-scientific criteria are required in order to break the circularity. Finally, I will show that (3) there is another possible explanation of the way out from general reciprocity, one that is extra-experimental but intra-scientific. In order to provide this alternative account, an analysis of how experimental outputs acquire representational content is required. The paper thus offers such an account, the semantics of experimental results."
to:NB  to_read  philosophy_of_science  collins.harry 
23 days ago
Identification and Asymptotic Approximations: Three Examples of Progress in Econometric Theory
"In empirical economics, the size and quality of datasets and computational power has grown substantially, along with the size and complexity of the econometric models and the population parameters of interest. With more and better data, it is natural to expect to be able to answer more subtle questions about population relationships, and to pay more attention to the consequences of misspecification of the model for the empirical conclusions. Much of the recent work in econometrics has emphasized two themes: The first is the fragility of statistical identification. The other, related theme involves the way economists make large-sample approximations to the distributions of estimators and test statistics. I will discuss how these issues of identification and alternative asymptotic approximations have been studied in three research areas: analysis of linear endogenous regressor models with many and/or weak instruments; nonparametric models with endogenous regressors; and estimation of partially identified parameters. These areas offer good examples of the progress that has been made in econometrics."
to:NB  statistics  economics  instrumental_variables  nonparametrics  regression  identifiability  partial_identification 
23 days ago
Optimal incentives for collective intelligence
"Collective intelligence is the ability of a group to perform more effectively than any individual alone. Diversity among group members is a key condition for the emergence of collective intelligence, but maintaining diversity is challenging in the face of social pressure to imitate one’s peers. Through an evolutionary game-theoretic model of collective prediction, we investigate the role that incentives may play in maintaining useful diversity. We show that market-based incentive systems produce herding effects, reduce information available to the group, and restrain collective intelligence. Therefore, we propose an incentive scheme that rewards accurate minority predictions and show that this produces optimal diversity and collective predictive accuracy. We conclude that real world systems should reward those who have shown accuracy when the majority opinion has been in error."

--- While I find the conclusion congenial, I suspect it's pre-judged by the modeling assumptions. Still, the last tag applies.
to:NB  collective_cognition  market_failures_in_everything  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
24 days ago
Motor control by precisely timed spike patterns
"A fundamental problem in neuroscience is understanding how sequences of action potentials (“spikes”) encode information about sensory signals and motor outputs. Although traditional theories assume that this information is conveyed by the total number of spikes fired within a specified time interval (spike rate), recent studies have shown that additional information is carried by the millisecond-scale timing patterns of action potentials (spike timing). However, it is unknown whether or how subtle differences in spike timing drive differences in perception or behavior, leaving it unclear whether the information in spike timing actually plays a role in brain function. By examining the activity of individual motor units (the muscle fibers innervated by a single motor neuron) and manipulating patterns of activation of these neurons, we provide both correlative and causal evidence that the nervous system uses millisecond-scale variations in the timing of spikes within multispike patterns to control a vertebrate behavior—namely, respiration in the Bengalese finch, a songbird. These findings suggest that a fundamental assumption of current theories of motor coding requires revision."
to:NB  neural_coding_and_decoding  neural_control_of_action  neuroscience  nemenman.ilya 
24 days ago
Reach and speed of judgment propagation in the laboratory
"In recent years, a large body of research has demonstrated that judgments and behaviors can propagate from person to person. Phenomena as diverse as political mobilization, health practices, altruism, and emotional states exhibit similar dynamics of social contagion. The precise mechanisms of judgment propagation are not well understood, however, because it is difficult to control for confounding factors such as homophily or dynamic network structures. We introduce an experimental design that renders possible the stringent study of judgment propagation. In this design, experimental chains of individuals can revise their initial judgment in a visual perception task after observing a predecessor’s judgment. The positioning of a very good performer at the top of a chain created a performance gap, which triggered waves of judgment propagation down the chain. We evaluated the dynamics of judgment propagation experimentally. Despite strong social influence within pairs of individuals, the reach of judgment propagation across a chain rarely exceeded a social distance of three to four degrees of separation. Furthermore, computer simulations showed that the speed of judgment propagation decayed exponentially with the social distance from the source. We show that information distortion and the overweighting of other people’s errors are two individual-level mechanisms hindering judgment propagation at the scale of the chain. Our results contribute to the understanding of social-contagion processes, and our experimental method offers numerous new opportunities to study judgment propagation in the laboratory."
to:NB  social_influence  experimental_psychology  experimental_sociology  re:homophily_and_confounding 
24 days ago
Network dynamics of social influence in the wisdom of crowds
"A longstanding problem in the social, biological, and computational sciences is to determine how groups of distributed individuals can form intelligent collective judgments. Since Galton’s discovery of the “wisdom of crowds” [Galton F (1907) Nature 75:450–451], theories of collective intelligence have suggested that the accuracy of group judgments requires individuals to be either independent, with uncorrelated beliefs, or diverse, with negatively correlated beliefs [Page S (2008) The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies]. Previous experimental studies have supported this view by arguing that social influence undermines the wisdom of crowds. These results showed that individuals’ estimates became more similar when subjects observed each other’s beliefs, thereby reducing diversity without a corresponding increase in group accuracy [Lorenz J, Rauhut H, Schweitzer F, Helbing D (2011) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:9020–9025]. By contrast, we show general network conditions under which social influence improves the accuracy of group estimates, even as individual beliefs become more similar. We present theoretical predictions and experimental results showing that, in decentralized communication networks, group estimates become reliably more accurate as a result of information exchange. We further show that the dynamics of group accuracy change with network structure. In centralized networks, where the influence of central individuals dominates the collective estimation process, group estimates become more likely to increase in error."
to:NB  to_read  collective_cognition  social_life_of_the_mind  re:democratic_cognition  centola.damon 
24 days ago
The evolution of cognitive mechanisms in response to cultural innovations
"When humans and other animals make cultural innovations, they also change their environment, thereby imposing new selective pressures that can modify their biological traits. For example, there is evidence that dairy farming by humans favored alleles for adult lactose tolerance. Similarly, the invention of cooking possibly affected the evolution of jaw and tooth morphology. However, when it comes to cognitive traits and learning mechanisms, it is much more difficult to determine whether and how their evolution was affected by culture or by their use in cultural transmission. Here we argue that, excluding very recent cultural innovations, the assumption that culture shaped the evolution of cognition is both more parsimonious and more productive than assuming the opposite. In considering how culture shapes cognition, we suggest that a process-level model of cognitive evolution is necessary and offer such a model. The model employs relatively simple coevolving mechanisms of learning and data acquisition that jointly construct a complex network of a type previously shown to be capable of supporting a range of cognitive abilities. The evolution of cognition, and thus the effect of culture on cognitive evolution, is captured through small modifications of these coevolving learning and data-acquisition mechanisms, whose coordinated action is critical for building an effective network. We use the model to show how these mechanisms are likely to evolve in response to cultural phenomena, such as language and tool-making, which are associated with major changes in data patterns and with new computational and statistical challenges."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  human_evolution  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  social_life_of_the_mind 
24 days ago
Cumulative cultural learning: Development and diversity
"The complexity and variability of human culture is unmatched by any other species. Humans live in culturally constructed niches filled with artifacts, skills, beliefs, and practices that have been inherited, accumulated, and modified over generations. A causal account of the complexity of human culture must explain its distinguishing characteristics: It is cumulative and highly variable within and across populations. I propose that the psychological adaptations supporting cumulative cultural transmission are universal but are sufficiently flexible to support the acquisition of highly variable behavioral repertoires. This paper describes variation in the transmission practices (teaching) and acquisition strategies (imitation) that support cumulative cultural learning in childhood. Examining flexibility and variation in caregiver socialization and children’s learning extends our understanding of evolution in living systems by providing insight into the psychological foundations of cumulative cultural transmission—the cornerstone of human cultural diversity."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission 
24 days ago
A social insect perspective on the evolution of social learning mechanisms
"The social world offers a wealth of opportunities to learn from others, and across the animal kingdom individuals capitalize on those opportunities. Here, we explore the role of natural selection in shaping the processes that underlie social information use, using a suite of experiments on social insects as case studies. We illustrate how an associative framework can encompass complex, context-specific social learning in the insect world and beyond, and based on the hypothesis that evolution acts to modify the associative process, suggest potential pathways by which social information use could evolve to become more efficient and effective. Social insects are distant relatives of vertebrate social learners, but the research we describe highlights routes by which natural selection could coopt similar cognitive raw material across the animal kingdom."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  social_life_of_the_mind  evolutionary_biology 
24 days ago
Evolutionary neuroscience of cumulative culture
"Culture suffuses all aspects of human life. It shapes our minds and bodies and has provided a cumulative inheritance of knowledge, skills, institutions, and artifacts that allows us to truly stand on the shoulders of giants. No other species approaches the extent, diversity, and complexity of human culture, but we remain unsure how this came to be. The very uniqueness of human culture is both a puzzle and a problem. It is puzzling as to why more species have not adopted this manifestly beneficial strategy and problematic because the comparative methods of evolutionary biology are ill suited to explain unique events. Here, we develop a more particularistic and mechanistic evolutionary neuroscience approach to cumulative culture, taking into account experimental, developmental, comparative, and archaeological evidence. This approach reconciles currently competing accounts of the origins of human culture and develops the concept of a uniquely human technological niche rooted in a shared primate heritage of visuomotor coordination and dexterous manipulation."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  human_evolution 
24 days ago
Cultural macroevolution matters
"Evolutionary thinking can be applied to both cultural microevolution and macroevolution. However, much of the current literature focuses on cultural microevolution. In this article, we argue that the growing availability of large cross-cultural datasets facilitates the use of computational methods derived from evolutionary biology to answer broad-scale questions about the major transitions in human social organization. Biological methods can be extended to human cultural evolution. We illustrate this argument with examples drawn from our recent work on the roles of Big Gods and ritual human sacrifice in the evolution of large, stratified societies. These analyses show that, although the presence of Big Gods is correlated with the evolution of political complexity, in Austronesian cultures at least, they do not play a causal role in ratcheting up political complexity. In contrast, ritual human sacrifice does play a causal role in promoting and sustaining the evolution of stratified societies by maintaining and legitimizing the power of elites. We briefly discuss some common objections to the application of phylogenetic modeling to cultural evolution and argue that the use of these methods does not require a commitment to either gene-like cultural inheritance or to the view that cultures are like vertebrate species. We conclude that the careful application of these methods can substantially enhance the prospects of an evolutionary science of human history."

--- I wish I could remember who it was that said "Of course, like any tool, human sacrifice can be mis-used..."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  anthropology  human_sacrifice 
24 days ago
Culture extends the scope of evolutionary biology in the great apes
"Discoveries about the cultures and cultural capacities of the great apes have played a leading role in the recognition emerging in recent decades that cultural inheritance can be a significant factor in the lives not only of humans but also of nonhuman animals. This prominence derives in part from these primates being those with whom we share the most recent common ancestry, thus offering clues to the origins of our own thoroughgoing reliance on cumulative cultural achievements. In addition, the intense research focus on these species has spawned an unprecedented diversity of complementary methodological approaches, the results of which suggest that cultural phenomena pervade the lives of these apes, with potentially major implications for their broader evolutionary biology. Here I review what this extremely broad array of observational and experimental methodologies has taught us about the cultural lives of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans and consider the ways in which this knowledge extends our wider understanding of primate biology and the processes of adaptation and evolution that shape it. I address these issues first by evaluating the extent to which the results of cultural inheritance echo a suite of core principles that underlie organic Darwinian evolution but also extend them in new ways and then by assessing the principal causal interactions between the primary, genetically based organic processes of evolution and the secondary system of cultural inheritance that is based on social learning from others."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  primates 
24 days ago
Cultural evolutionary theory: How culture evolves and why it matters
"Human cultural traits—behaviors, ideas, and technologies that can be learned from other individuals—can exhibit complex patterns of transmission and evolution, and researchers have developed theoretical models, both verbal and mathematical, to facilitate our understanding of these patterns. Many of the first quantitative models of cultural evolution were modified from existing concepts in theoretical population genetics because cultural evolution has many parallels with, as well as clear differences from, genetic evolution. Furthermore, cultural and genetic evolution can interact with one another and influence both transmission and selection. This interaction requires theoretical treatments of gene–culture coevolution and dual inheritance, in addition to purely cultural evolution. In addition, cultural evolutionary theory is a natural component of studies in demography, human ecology, and many other disciplines. Here, we review the core concepts in cultural evolutionary theory as they pertain to the extension of biology through culture, focusing on cultural evolutionary applications in population genetics, ecology, and demography. For each of these disciplines, we review the theoretical literature and highlight relevant empirical studies. We also discuss the societal implications of the study of cultural evolution and of the interactions of humans with one another and with their environment."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  feldman.marcus_w. 
24 days ago
Inferring patterns of folktale diffusion using genomic data
"Observable patterns of cultural variation are consistently intertwined with demic movements, cultural diffusion, and adaptation to different ecological contexts [Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) Cultural Transmission and Evolution: A Quantitative Approach; Boyd and Richerson (1985) Culture and the Evolutionary Process]. The quantitative study of gene–culture coevolution has focused in particular on the mechanisms responsible for change in frequency and attributes of cultural traits, the spread of cultural information through demic and cultural diffusion, and detecting relationships between genetic and cultural lineages. Here, we make use of worldwide whole-genome sequences [Pagani et al. (2016) Nature 538:238–242] to assess the impact of processes involving population movement and replacement on cultural diversity, focusing on the variability observed in folktale traditions (n = 596) [Uther (2004) The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography. Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson] in Eurasia. We find that a model of cultural diffusion predicted by isolation-by-distance alone is not sufficient to explain the observed patterns, especially at small spatial scales (up to ∼∼4,000 km). We also provide an empirical approach to infer presence and impact of ethnolinguistic barriers preventing the unbiased transmission of both genetic and cultural information. After correcting for the effect of ethnolinguistic boundaries, we show that, of the alternative models that we propose, the one entailing cultural diffusion biased by linguistic differences is the most plausible. Additionally, we identify 15 tales that are more likely to be predominantly transmitted through population movement and replacement and locate putative focal areas for a set of tales that are spread worldwide."
to:NB  folklore  epidemiology_of_representations  historical_genetics  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  to_read 
24 days ago
A study of problems encountered in Granger causality analysis from a neuroscience perspective
"Granger causality methods were developed to analyze the flow of information between time series. These methods have become more widely applied in neuroscience. Frequency-domain causality measures, such as those of Geweke, as well as multivariate methods, have particular appeal in neuroscience due to the prevalence of oscillatory phenomena and highly multivariate experimental recordings. Despite its widespread application in many fields, there are ongoing concerns regarding the applicability of Granger causality methods in neuroscience. When are these methods appropriate? How reliably do they recover the system structure underlying the observed data? What do frequency-domain causality measures tell us about the functional properties of oscillatory neural systems? In this paper, we analyze fundamental properties of Granger–Geweke (GG) causality, both computational and conceptual. Specifically, we show that (i) GG causality estimates can be either severely biased or of high variance, both leading to spurious results; (ii) even if estimated correctly, GG causality estimates alone are not interpretable without examining the component behaviors of the system model; and (iii) GG causality ignores critical components of a system’s dynamics. Based on this analysis, we find that the notion of causality quantified is incompatible with the objectives of many neuroscience investigations, leading to highly counterintuitive and potentially misleading results. Through the analysis of these problems, we provide important conceptual clarification of GG causality, with implications for other related causality approaches and for the role of causality analyses in neuroscience as a whole."
to:NB  causal_inference  granger_causality  time_series  neuroscience  statistics 
24 days ago
Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans : Nature : Nature Research
"The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean1, 2, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus3 and Iran4, 5. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia6, 7, 8, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe1, 6, 9 or Armenia4, 9. Modern Greeks resemble the Mycenaeans, but with some additional dilution of the Early Neolithic ancestry. Our results support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of its earliest civilizations."
to:NB  historical_genetics  ancient_history 
24 days ago
The Economic Consequences of Social-Network Structure
"We survey the literature on the economic consequences of the structure of social networks. We develop a taxonomy of "macro" and "micro" characteristics of social-interaction networks and discuss both the theoretical and empirical findings concerning the role of those characteristics in determining learning, diffusion, decisions, and resulting behaviors. We also discuss the challenges of accounting for the endogeneity of networks in assessing the relationship between the patterns of interactions and behaviors."
to:NB  economics  social_networks  social_influence  re:do-institutions-evolve  jackson.matthew_o. 
25 days ago
Criminal Deterrence: A Review of the Literature
"We review economics research regarding the effect of police, punishments, and work on crime, with a particular focus on papers from the last twenty years. Evidence in favor of deterrence effects is mixed. While there is considerable evidence that crime is responsive to police and to the existence of attractive legitimate labor-market opportunities, there is far less evidence that crime responds to the severity of criminal sanctions. We discuss fruitful directions for future work and implications for public policy."
to:NB  crime  police  economics 
25 days ago
Gender Differences in Accepting and Receiving Requests for Tasks with Low Promotability
"Gender differences in task allocations may sustain vertical gender segregation in labor markets. We examine the allocation of a task that everyone prefers be completed by someone else (writing a report, serving on a committee, etc.) and find evidence that women, more than men, volunteer, are asked to volunteer, and accept requests to volunteer for such tasks. Beliefs that women, more than men, say yes to tasks with low promotability appear as an important driver of these differences. If women hold tasks that are less promotable than those held by men, then women will progress more slowly in organizations."
to:NB  sexism  organizations 
25 days ago
Endogenous dynamics of institutional change --- Rationality and Society - Daniel DellaPosta, Victor Nee, Sonja Opper, 2017
"A parsimonious set of mechanisms explains how and under which conditions behavioral deviations build into cascades that reshape institutional frameworks from the bottom up, even if institutional innovations initially conflict with the legally codified rules of the game. Specifically, we argue that this type of endogenous institutional change emerges from an interplay between three factors: the utility gain agents associate with decoupling from institutional equilibria, positive externalities derived from similar decoupling among one’s neighbors, and accommodation by state actors. Where endogenous institutional change driven by societal action is sufficiently robust, it can induce political actors to accommodate and eventually to legitimize institutional innovations from below. We provide empirical illustrations of our theory in two disparate institutional contexts—the rise of private manufacturing in the Yangzi delta region of China since 1978, focusing on two municipalities in that region, and the diffusion of gay bars in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s. We validate our theory with an agent-based simulation."
to:NB  to_read  re:do-institutions-evolve 
25 days ago
Testing Local Average Treatment Effect Assumptions | The Review of Economics and Statistics | MIT Press Journals
"In this paper, we propose an easy-to-implement procedure to test the key conditions for the identification and estimation of the local average treatment effect (LATE; Imbens & Angrist, 1994). We reformulate the testable implications of LATE assumptions as two conditional inequalities, which can be tested in the intersection bounds framework of Chernozhukov, Lee, and Rosen (2013) and easily implemented using the Stata package of Chernozhukov et al. (2015). We apply the proposed tests to the draft eligibility instrument in Angrist (1991), the college proximity instrument in Card (1993), and the same-sex instrument in Angrist and Evans (1998)."
to:NB  causal_inference  statistics  re:ADAfaEPoV  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
25 days ago
Alt-America The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump by David Neiwert
"Just as Donald Trump’s victorious campaign for the US presidency shocked the world, the seemingly sudden national prominence of white supremacists, xenophobes, militia leaders, and mysterious “alt-right” figures mystifies many. But the American extreme right has been growing steadily in number and influence since the 1990s with the rise of patriot militias. Following 9/11, conspiracy theorists found fresh life; and in virulent reaction to the first black US president, militant racists have come out of the woodwork. Nurtured by a powerful right-wing media sector in radio, TV, and online, the far right, Tea Party movement conservatives, and Republican activists found common ground. Figures such as Stephen Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Alex Jones, once rightly dismissed as cranks, now haunt the reports of mainstream journalism.
"Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking extremists for more than two decades. In Alt-America, he provides a deeply researched and authoritative report on the growth of fascism and far-right terrorism, the violence of which in the last decade has surpassed anything inspired by Islamist or other ideologies in the United States. The product of years of reportage, and including the most in-depth investigation of Trump’s ties to the far right, this is a crucial book about one of the most disturbing aspects of American society."

--- That's quite a cover...
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  running_dogs_of_reaction  neiwert.david  whats_gone_wrong_with_america 
27 days ago
Making Sense of the Alt-Right | Columbia University Press
"During the 2016 election, a new term entered the mainstream American political lexicon: “alt-right,” short for “alternative right.” Despite the innocuous name, the alt-right is a white-nationalist movement. Yet it differs from earlier racist groups: it is youthful and tech savvy, obsessed with provocation and trolling, amorphous, predominantly online, and mostly anonymous. And it was energized by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In Making Sense of the Alt-Right, George Hawley provides an accessible introduction and gives vital perspective on the emergence of a group whose overt racism has confounded expectations for a more tolerant America.
"Hawley explains the movement’s origins, evolution, methods, and core belief in white-identity politics. The book explores how the alt-right differs from traditional white nationalism, libertarianism, and other online illiberal ideologies such as neoreaction, as well as from mainstream Republicans and even Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. The alt-right’s use of offensive humor and its trolling-driven approach, based in animosity to so-called political correctness, can make it difficult to determine true motivations. Yet through exclusive interviews and a careful study of the alt-right’s influential texts, Hawley is able to paint a full picture of a movement that not only disagrees with liberalism but also fundamentally rejects most of the tenets of American conservatism. Hawley points to the alt-right’s growing influence and makes a case for coming to a precise understanding of its beliefs without sensationalism or downplaying the movement’s radicalism."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  running_dogs_of_reaction 
27 days ago
Bounded Rationality and Learning: A Framework and a Robustness Result by J. Aislinn Bohren, Daniel N. Hauser :: SSRN
"We explore model misspecification in an observational learning framework. Individuals learn from private and public signals and the actions of others. An agent’s type specifies her model of the world. Misspecified types have incorrect beliefs about the signal distribution, how other agents draw inference and/or others’ payoffs. We establish that the correctly specified model is robust in that agents with approximately correct models almost surely learn the true state asymptotically. We develop a simple criterion to identify the asymptotic learning outcomes that arise when misspecification is more severe. Depending on the nature of the misspecification, learning may be correct, incorrect or beliefs may not converge. Different types may asymptotically disagree, despite observing the same sequence of information. This framework captures behavioral biases such as confirmation bias, false consensus effect, partisan bias and correlation neglect, as well as models of inference such as level-k and cognitive hierarchy."

--- The agents are doing Bayesian updating; how boundedly-rational can they be?
to:NB  learning_in_games  misspecification  statistics  bayesian_consistency 
27 days ago
Is the US Public Corporation in Trouble?
"We examine the current state of the US public corporation and how it has evolved over the last 40 years. After falling by 50 percent since its peak in 1997, the number of public corporations is now smaller than 40 years ago. These corporations are now much larger and over the last twenty years have become much older; they invest differently, as the average firm invests more in R&D than it spends on capital expenditures; and compared to the 1990s, the ratio of investment to assets is lower, especially for large firms. Public firms have record high cash holdings and, in most recent years, the average firm has more cash than long-term debt. Measuring profitability by the ratio of earnings to assets, the average firm is less profitable, but that is driven by smaller firms. Earnings of public firms have become more concentrated—the top 200 firms in profits earn as much as all public firms combined. Firms' total payouts to shareholders as a percent of earnings are at record levels. Possible explanations for the current state of the public corporation include a decrease in the net benefits of being a public company, changes in financial intermediation, technological change, globalization, and consolidation through mergers."
to:NB  have_skimmed  economics  corporations  class_struggles_in_america 
27 days ago
The Agency Problems of Institutional Investors
"Financial economics and corporate governance have long focused on the agency problems between corporate managers and shareholders that result from the dispersion of ownership in large publicly traded corporations. In this paper, we focus on how the rise of institutional investors over the past several decades has transformed the corporate landscape and, in turn, the governance problems of the modern corporation. The rise of institutional investors has led to increased concentration of equity ownership, with most public corporations now having a substantial proportion of their shares held by a small number of institutional investors. At the same time, these institutions are controlled by investment managers, which have their own agency problems vis-á-vis their own beneficial investors. We develop an analytical framework for understanding the agency problems of institutional investors, and apply it to examine the agency problems and behavior of several key types of investment managers, including those that manage mutual funds—both index funds and actively managed funds—and activist hedge funds. We show that index funds have especially poor incentives to engage in stewardship activities that could improve governance and increase value. Activist hedge funds have substantially better incentives than managers of index funds or active mutual funds. While their activities may partially compensate, we show that they do not provide a complete solution for the agency problems of other institutional investors."

--- I'd be curious to see if they make the connection to market socialism, of the Roemer-esque "One Big Mutual Fund" variety
to:NB  economics  corporations  finance  market_failures_in_everything 
27 days ago
Towards a Political Theory of the Firm
"The revenues of large companies often rival those of national governments, and some companies have annual revenues higher than many national governments. Among the largest corporations in 2015, some had private security forces that rivaled the best secret services, public relations offices that dwarfed a US presidential campaign headquarters, more lawyers than the US Justice Department, and enough money to capture (through campaign donations, lobbying, and even explicit bribes) a majority of the elected representatives. The only powers these large corporations missed were the power to wage war and the legal power of detaining people, although their political influence was sufficiently large that many would argue that, at least in certain settings, large corporations can exercise those powers by proxy. Yet in economics, the commonly prevailing view of the firm ignores all these elements of politics and power. We must recognize that large firms have considerable power to influence the rules of the game. I call attention to the risk of a "Medici vicious circle," in which economic and political power reinforce each other. The possibility and extent of a "Medici vicious circle" depends upon several nonmarket factors. I discuss how they should be incorporated in a broader "Political Theory" of the firm."
to:NB  economics  political_economy  corporations  zingales.luigi 
27 days ago
A Skeptical View of Financialized Corporate Governance
"Managerial compensation typically relies on financial yardsticks, such as profits, stock prices, and return on equity, to achieve alignment between the interests of managers and shareholders. But financialized governance may not actually work well for most shareholders, and even when it does, significant tradeoffs and inefficiencies can arise from the conflict between maximizing financialized measures and society's broader interests. Effective governance requires that those in control are accountable for actions they take. However, those who control and benefit most from corporations' success are often able to avoid accountability. The history of corporate governance includes a parade of scandals and crises that have caused significant harm. After each, most key individuals tend to minimize their own culpability. Common claims from executives, boards of directors, auditors, rating agencies, politicians, and regulators include "we just didn't know," "we couldn't have predicted," or "it was just a few bad apples." Economists, as well, may react to corporate scandals and crises with their own version of "we just didn't know," as their models had ruled out certain possibilities. Effective governance of institutions in the private and public sectors should make it much more difficult for individuals in these institutions to get away with claiming that harm was out of their control when in reality they had encouraged or enabled harmful misconduct, and ought to have taken action to prevent it."
to:NB  economics  corporations  financialization  market_failures_in_everything 
27 days ago
Retrospectives: Friedrich Hayek and the Market Algorithm
"Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) is known for his vision of the market economy as an information processing system characterized by spontaneous order: the emergence of coherence through the independent actions of large numbers of individuals, each with limited and local knowledge, coordinated by prices that arise from decentralized processes of competition. Hayek is also known for his advocacy of a broad range of free market policies and, indeed, considered the substantially unregulated market system to be superior to competing alternatives precisely because it made the best use of dispersed knowledge. Our purpose in writing this paper is twofold: First, we believe that Hayek's economic vision and critique of equilibrium theory not only remain relevant, but apply with greater force as information has become ever more central to economic activity and the complexity of the information aggregation process has become increasingly apparent. Second, we wish to call into question Hayek's belief that his advocacy of free market policies follows as a matter of logic from his economic vision. The very usefulness of prices (and other economic variables) as informative messages—which is the centerpiece of Hayek's economics—creates incentives to extract information from signals in ways that can be destabilizing. Markets can promote prosperity but can also generate crises. We will argue, accordingly, that a Hayekian understanding of the economy as an information-processing system does not support the type of policy positions that he favored. Thus, we find considerable lasting value in Hayek's economic analysis while nonetheless questioning the connection of this analysis to his political philosophy."
to:NB  to_Read  economics  markets_as_collective_calculating_devices  bowles.samuel  sethi.rajiv  kirman.alan 
27 days ago
Murder by Structure: Dominance Relations and the Social Structure of Gang Homicide: American Journal of Sociology: Vol 115, No 1
"Most sociological theories consider murder an outcome of the differential distribution of individual, neighborhood, or social characteristics. And while such studies explain variation in aggregate homicide rates, they do not explain the social order of murder, that is, who kills whom, when, where, and for what reason. This article argues that gang murder is best understood not by searching for its individual determinants but by examining the social networks of action and reaction that create it. In short, the social structure of gang murder is defined by the manner in which social networks are constructed and by people's placement in them. The author uses a network approach and incident‐level homicide records to recreate and analyze the structure of gang murders in Chicago. Findings demonstrate that individual murders between gangs create an institutionalized network of group conflict, net of any individual's participation or motive. Within this network, murders spread through an epidemic‐like process of social contagion as gangs evaluate the highly visible actions of others in their local networks and negotiate dominance considerations that arise during violent incidents."

--- Uses the same old methods for detecting contagion as Christakis-Fowler; perhaps more plausible here?
to:NB  have_read  social_networks  violence  contagion  social_influence  sociology  re:network_differences  honor  re:homophily_and_confounding 
27 days ago
"The people of Huntington, WV are not dumb enough to believe that the Mexican gang MS-13 – the President’s new obsession – is responsible for the shuttered factories, soaring unemployment rate, stagnant wages, and addiction problems that plague their community. But when all of those problems exist for so long that they are viewed as simple facts of life no more controllable than the weather, venting anger at a sinister, foreign Other is cathartic if nothing else.
"Trump is not dumb either. He knows that when his administration veers unsettlingly close to chaos, people in rural Ohio, upstate New York, central Pennsylvania, and other declining areas of the country will not judge him on the specifics. They don’t expect him to solve their problems because they have come to believe over time and from repeated experience that their underlying problems are unsolvable. They only want him to keep up the Trump Show, to get under the skin of the groups in society that they blame for their struggles, to rile the establishment even when doing so is pointless and unproductive.
"Decline has been a part of life in the Rust Belt for so long that only the oldest residents can remember a time when it wasn’t the defining theme in the life of their communities. The oft-analyzed demographic that dominates these areas – whites with minimal education – does not truly believe that Donald Trump will solve their problems. They do believe that he will deliver the next best thing: an opportunity for revenge. If failure is seen as inevitable, then lashing out in anger at enemies, real or perceived, at least offers a sense of power and control that has been absent from these areas for two generations."
us_politics  trump.donald  whats_gone_wrong_with_america  via:jbdelong 
27 days ago
Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo | Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir
"This searing memoir shares the trauma and triumphs of Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir's time inside America's most notorious prison.
"Lakhdar and Mustafa were living quiet, peaceful lives in Bosnia when, in October 2001, they were arrested and accused of participating in a terrorist plot. After a three-month investigation uncovered no evidence, all charges were dropped and Bosnian courts ordered their freedom. However, under intense U.S. pressure, Bosnian officials turned them over to American soldiers. They were flown blindfolded and shackled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held in outdoor cages for weeks as the now-infamous military prison was built around them.
"Guantanamo became their home for the next seven years. They endured torture and harassment and force-feedings and beatings, all the while not knowing if they would ever see their families again. They had no opportunity to argue their innocence until 2008, when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in their case, Boumediene v. Bush, confirming Guantanamo detainees' constitutional right to challenge their detention in federal court. Weeks later, the George W. Bush–appointed federal judge who heard their case, stunned by the absence of evidence against them, ordered their release. Now living in Europe and rebuilding their lives, Lakhdar and Mustafa are finally free to share a story that every American ought to know."
books:noted  torture  our_national_shame 
27 days ago
Lampe, K.: The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
"According to Xenophon, Socrates tried to persuade his associate Aristippus to moderate his excessive indulgence in wine, women, and food, arguing that only hard work can bring happiness. Aristippus wasn't convinced. Instead, he and his followers espoused the most radical form of hedonism in ancient Western philosophy. Before the rise of the better known but comparatively ascetic Epicureans, the Cyrenaics pursued a way of life in which moments of pleasure, particularly bodily pleasure, held the highest value. In The Birth of Hedonism, Kurt Lampe provides the most comprehensive account in any language of Cyrenaic ideas and behavior, revolutionizing the understanding of this neglected but important school of philosophy.
"The Birth of Hedonism thoroughly and sympathetically reconstructs the doctrines and practices of the Cyrenaics, who were active between the fourth and third centuries BCE. The book examines not only Aristippus and the mainstream Cyrenaics, but also Hegesias, Anniceris, and Theodorus. Contrary to recent scholarship, the book shows that the Cyrenaics, despite giving primary value to discrete pleasurable experiences, accepted the dominant Greek philosophical belief that life-long happiness and the virtues that sustain it are the principal concerns of ethics. The book also offers the first in-depth effort to understand Theodorus's atheism and Hegesias's pessimism, both of which are extremely unusual in ancient Greek philosophy and which raise the interesting question of hedonism's relationship to pessimism and atheism. Finally, the book explores the "new Cyrenaicism" of the nineteenth-century writer and classicist Walter Pater, who drew out the enduring philosophical interest of Cyrenaic hedonism more than any other modern thinker."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  philosophy  ancient_history 
27 days ago
The Invention of Humanity — Siep Stuurman | Harvard University Press
"For much of history, strangers were routinely classified as barbarians and inferiors, seldom as fellow human beings. The notion of a common humanity was counterintuitive and thus had to be invented. Siep Stuurman traces evolving ideas of human equality and difference across continents and civilizations from ancient times to the present.
"Despite humans’ deeply ingrained bias against strangers, migration and cultural blending have shaped human experience from the earliest times. As travelers crossed frontiers and came into contact with unfamiliar peoples and customs, frontier experiences generated not only hostility but also empathy and understanding. Empires sought to civilize their “barbarians,” but in all historical eras critics of empire were able to imagine how the subjected peoples made short shrift of imperial arrogance.
"Drawing on the views of a global mix of thinkers—Homer, Confucius, Herodotus, the medieval Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun, the Haitian writer Antenor Firmin, the Filipino nationalist Jose Rizal, and more—The Invention of Humanity surveys the great civilizational frontiers of history, from the interaction of nomadic and sedentary societies in ancient Eurasia and Africa, to Europeans’ first encounters with the indigenous peoples of the New World, to the Enlightenment invention of universal “modern equality.” Against a backdrop of two millennia of thinking about common humanity and equality, Stuurman concludes with a discussion of present-day debates about human rights and the “clash of civilizations.”"
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  cultural_exchange  racism  inequality  human_rights  ibn_khaldun 
27 days ago
The Idea of the Muslim World — Cemil Aydin | Harvard University Press
"When President Barack Obama visited Cairo in 2009 to deliver an address to Muslims worldwide, he followed in the footsteps of countless politicians who have taken the existence of a unified global Muslim community for granted. But as Cemil Aydin explains in this provocative history, it is a misconception to think that the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims constitute a single religio-political entity. How did this belief arise, and why is it so widespread? The Idea of the Muslim World searches for the intellectual origins of a mistaken notion and explains its enduring allure for non-Muslims and Muslims alike.
"Conceived as the antithesis of Western Christian civilization, the idea of the Muslim world emerged in the late nineteenth century, when European empires ruled the majority of Muslims. It was inflected from the start by theories of white supremacy, but Muslims had a hand in shaping the idea as well. Aydin reveals the role of Muslim intellectuals in envisioning and essentializing an idealized pan-Islamic society that refuted claims of Muslims’ racial and civilizational inferiority.
"After playing a key role in the politics of the Ottoman Caliphate, the idea of the Muslim world survived decolonization and the Cold War, and took on new force in the late twentieth century. Standing at the center of both Islamophobic and pan-Islamic ideologies, the idea of the Muslim world continues to hold the global imagination in a grip that will need to be loosened in order to begin a more fruitful discussion about politics in Muslim societies today."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  islamic_civilization 
27 days ago
Topics frontier statistics and network analysis revisiting foundations | Statistical theory and methods | Cambridge University Press
"This snapshot of the current frontier of statistics and network analysis focuses on the foundational topics of modeling, sampling, and design. Primarily for graduate students and researchers in statistics and closely related fields, emphasis is not only on what has been done, but on what remains to be done."
to:NB  books:noted  statistics  network_data_analysis  to_teach:baby-nets  kolaczyk.eric 
27 days ago
Fundamentals nonparametric bayesian inference | Statistical theory and methods | Cambridge University Press
"Explosive growth in computing power has made Bayesian methods for infinite-dimensional models - Bayesian nonparametrics - a nearly universal framework for inference, finding practical use in numerous subject areas. Written by leading researchers, this authoritative text draws on theoretical advances of the past twenty years to synthesize all aspects of Bayesian nonparametrics, from prior construction to computation and large sample behavior of posteriors. Because understanding the behavior of posteriors is critical to selecting priors that work, the large sample theory is developed systematically, illustrated by various examples of model and prior combinations. Precise sufficient conditions are given, with complete proofs, that ensure desirable posterior properties and behavior. Each chapter ends with historical notes and numerous exercises to deepen and consolidate the reader's understanding, making the book valuable for both graduate students and researchers in statistics and machine learning, as well as in application areas such as econometrics and biostatistics."

--- These are two of the central figures in the field, and van der Vaart is a really good writer...
to:NB  books:noted  coveted  nonparametrics  bayesianism  bayesian_consistency  statistics 
27 days ago
Stochastic analysis scaling time series turbulence theory applications | Earth science: general interest | Cambridge University Press
"Multi-scale systems, involving complex interacting processes that occur over a range of temporal and spatial scales, are present in a broad range of disciplines. Several methodologies exist to retrieve this multi-scale information from a given time series; however, each method has its own limitations. This book presents the mathematical theory behind the stochastic analysis of scaling time series, including a general historical introduction to the problem of intermittency in turbulence, as well as how to implement this analysis for a range of different applications. Covering a variety of statistical methods, such as Fourier analysis and wavelet transforms, it provides readers with a thorough understanding of the techniques and when to apply them. New techniques to analyse stochastic processes, including empirical mode decomposition, are also explored. Case studies, in turbulence and ocean sciences, are used to demonstrate how these statistical methods can be applied in practice, for students and researchers."
to:NB  books:noted  stochastic_processes  turbulence  long-range_dependence  re:stacs  time_series 
27 days ago
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