Methods and Techniques of Complex Systems Science, Cosma Rohilla Shalizi, eBook - Amazon.com
I've been plagiarized before, but I've never had someone use my name to charge people $8.99 for something they could read, _with_ the figures, for free (https://arxiv.org/abs/nlin/0307015). We'll see if Amazon does anything.
self-centered  complexity  fraud 
11 days ago
Modeling homophily and stochastic equivalence in symmetric relational data
"This article discusses a latent variable model for inference and prediction of symmetric relational data. The model, based on the idea of the eigenvalue decomposition, represents the relationship between two nodes as the weighted inner-product of node-specific vectors of latent characteristics. This eigenmodel'' generalizes other popular latent variable models, such as latent class and distance models: It is shown mathematically that any latent class or distance model has a representation as an eigenmodel, but not vice-versa. The practical implications of this are examined in the context of three real datasets, for which the eigenmodel has as good or better out-of-sample predictive performance than the other two models."

--- Why the EXPLETIVE hadn't I read this before?
in_NB  network_data_analysis  re:network_differences  statistics  hoff.peter  community_discovery  inference_to_latent_objects  cross-validation  re:XV_for_networks  have_read 
13 days ago
Mokyr, J.: A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. (eBook and Hardcover)
"During the late eighteenth century, innovations in Europe triggered the Industrial Revolution and the sustained economic progress that spread across the globe. While much has been made of the details of the Industrial Revolution, what remains a mystery is why it took place at all. Why did this revolution begin in the West and not elsewhere, and why did it continue, leading to today’s unprecedented prosperity? In this groundbreaking book, celebrated economic historian Joel Mokyr argues that a culture of growth specific to early modern Europe and the European Enlightenment laid the foundations for the scientific advances and pioneering inventions that would instigate explosive technological and economic development. Bringing together economics, the history of science and technology, and models of cultural evolution, Mokyr demonstrates that culture—the beliefs, values, and preferences in society that are capable of changing behavior—was a deciding factor in societal transformations.
"Mokyr looks at the period 1500–1700 to show that a politically fragmented Europe fostered a competitive “market for ideas” and a willingness to investigate the secrets of nature. At the same time, a transnational community of brilliant thinkers known as the “Republic of Letters” freely circulated and distributed ideas and writings. This political fragmentation and the supportive intellectual environment explain how the Industrial Revolution happened in Europe but not China, despite similar levels of technology and intellectual activity. In Europe, heterodox and creative thinkers could find sanctuary in other countries and spread their thinking across borders. In contrast, China’s version of the Enlightenment remained controlled by the ruling elite."
to:NB  books:noted  great_transformation  enlightenment  europe  early_modern_european_history  early_modern_world_history  history_of_ideas  mokyr.joel  coveted  science_as_a_social_process  social_life_of_the_mind  re:democratic_cognition 
16 days ago
Force-Directed Drawing Algorithms (from _Handbook of Graph Drawing and Visualization_)
"ome of the most flexible algorithms for calculating layouts of simple undirected graphs belong to a class known as force-directed algorithms. Also known as spring embedders, such algorithms calculate the layout of a graph using only information contained within the structure of the graph itself, rather than relying on domain-specific knowledge. Graphs drawn with these algorithms tend to be aesthetically pleasing, exhibit symmetries, and tend to produce crossing-free layouts for planar graphs."
to:NB  network_visualization  to_read  to_teach:baby-nets 
16 days ago
Social Networks (from _Handbook of Graph Drawing and Visualization_)
"Social networks provide a rich source of graph drawing problems, because they appear in an incredibly wide variety of forms and contexts. After sketching the scope of social network analysis, we establish some general principles for social network visualization before finally reviewing applications of, and challenges for, graph drawing methods in this area."
in_NB  to_read  network_visualization  to_teach:baby-nets 
16 days ago
Marra, P. and Santella, C.: Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer. (eBook and Hardcover)
"In 1894, a lighthouse keeper named David Lyall arrived on Stephens Island off New Zealand with a cat named Tibbles. In just over a year, the Stephens Island Wren, a rare bird endemic to the island, was rendered extinct. Mounting scientific evidence confirms what many conservationists have suspected for some time—that in the United States alone, free-ranging cats are killing birds and other animals by the billions. Equally alarming are the little-known but potentially devastating public health consequences of rabies and parasitic Toxoplasma passing from cats to humans at rising rates. Cat Wars tells the story of the threats free-ranging cats pose to biodiversity and public health throughout the world, and sheds new light on the controversies surrounding the management of the explosion of these cat populations.
"This compelling book traces the historical and cultural ties between humans and cats from early domestication to the current boom in pet ownership, along the way accessibly explaining the science of extinction, population modeling, and feline diseases. It charts the developments that have led to our present impasse—from Stan Temple’s breakthrough studies on cat predation in Wisconsin to cat-eradication programs underway in Australia today. It describes how a small but vocal minority of cat advocates has campaigned successfully for no action in much the same way that special interest groups have stymied attempts to curtail smoking and climate change."
to:NB  books:noted  ecology  popular_science  invasive_species  environmental_management  cats 
16 days ago
Gintis, H.: Individuality and Entanglement: The Moral and Material Bases of Social Life. (eBook and Hardcover)
In this book, acclaimed economist Herbert Gintis ranges widely across many fields—including economics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, moral philosophy, and biology—to provide a rigorous transdisciplinary explanation of some fundamental characteristics of human societies and social behavior. Because such behavior can be understood only through transdisciplinary research, Gintis argues, Individuality and Entanglement advances the effort to unify the behavioral sciences by developing a shared analytical framework—one that bridges research on gene-culture coevolution, the rational-actor model, game theory, and complexity theory. At the same time, the book persuasively demonstrates the rich possibilities of such transdisciplinary work.

Everything distinctive about human social life, Gintis argues, flows from the fact that we construct and then play social games. Indeed, society itself is a game with rules and politics is the arena in which we affirm and change these rules. Individuality is central to our species because the rules do not change through inexorable macrosocial forces. Rather, individuals band together to change the rules. Our minds are also socially entangled, producing behavior that is socially rational, although it violates the standard rules of individually rational choice. Finally, a moral sense is essential for playing games with socially constructed rules. People generally play by the rules, are ashamed when they break the rules, and are offended when others break the rules, even in societies that lack laws, government, and jails.
to:NB  books:noted  gintis.herbert  kith_and_kin  evolution_of_cooperation  moral_psychology  moral_philosophy  economics  sociology 
16 days ago
Achen, C. and Bartels, L.M.: Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. (eBook and Hardcover)
"Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens.
"Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters—even those who are well informed and politically engaged—mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly.
"Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government."
to:NB  books:noted  democracy  political_science  political_philosophy  re:democratic_cognition 
16 days ago
[Aristotle], <i>On Trolling</i> - Cambridge Journals Online
"That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and how many its species are, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear. And indeed trolling is said in many ways; for some call ‘troll’ anyone who is abusive on the internet, but this is only the disagreeable person, or in newspaper comments the angry old man. And the one who disagrees loudly on the blog on each occasion is a lover of controversy, or an attention-seeker. And none of these is the troll, or perhaps some are of a mixed type; for there is no art in what they do. (Whether it is possible to troll one’s own blog is unclear; for the one who poses divisive questions seems only to seek controversy, and to do so openly; and this is not trolling but rather a kind of clickbait.)
"Well then, the troll in the proper sense is one who speaks to a community and as being part of the community; only he is not part of it, but opposed. And the community has some good in common, and this the troll must know, and what things promote and destroy it: for he seeks to destroy. Hence no one would troll the remotest Mysian, or even know how, but rather a Republican trolls a Democratic blog and a Democrat Republicans. And he destroys the thread by disputing what is known to be true, or abusing what is recognised as admirable; or he creates fear about a small problem, as if it were large, or treats a necessary matter as small; or he speaks abuse while claiming to be a friend. And in general the troll says what is false but sounds like the truth—or rather he does not quite say it, but rather something very close to it which is true, or partly true, or best of all merely asks a simple question about the evidence for climate change. Hence the modes of trolling are many: the concern-troll, the one who ‘sees the other side’, the polite inquirer into the obvious. For the perfected troll has no need of rudeness or abuse, or even of fallacy (this belongs rather to sophistic or eristic, and requires making an argument): he only makes a suggestion or indication [seˆmainein].
"And this is how the troll generates strife. For what he indicates is known to be false or harmful or ignorant; but he does not say that thing, but rather something close. In this way he retains the possibility of denial, and the skilled troll is always surprised and hurt, or seems to be, when the others take his comments up. And so he sets the community apart from each other, and introduces strife where before there was scarcely disagreement. For each person who takes up what was said grasps only a part of it, and insists on that, and is annoyed when others affirm something different...."

--- The whole thing is absolutely pitch-perfect.
trolling  networked_life  rhetoric  aristotle  affectionate_parody  barney.rachel  moral_psychology  philosophy 
17 days ago
That time a bot invaded Thingiverse and created weird new 3D objects | Ars Technica UK
There is something positively eerie about this, precisely because the creations manage to look like they ought to make sense while being senseless, and because it's autonomous while mindless. It is a glimpse of a genuinely post-human future in which the wheels of spam and combinatorial re-mixing continue to spin endlessly for no one.
the wheels of spam combinatorial re-mixing will continue to turn, forever, before no audience.
art  probably_not_really_that_creepy  to:blog  via:yorksranter 
19 days ago
How to Think About (And Win) Socialism | Jacobin
In which In which EOW is much more patient than I would be with a comrade who has evidently learned all the wrong lessons from Leninist adventurism.
(However, I am a bit boggled by the idea that machines for extruding plastic according to a program do more to destroy economies of scale than did sewing machines. In fact, now that I think about it, where is the essay on "fabricators" as sewing machines for geekboys? In both cases, there's a certain scope for individual creativity and home production, but the hardware and the raw materials are equal the outputs of mass production. [I say this as one very secure in his geekboyness.])
--- ETA: the canonical version of the 3d-printer-vs-sewing-machine comparison seems to be http://www.dezeen.com/2014/05/08/3d-printers-have-a-lot-to-learn-from-the-sewing-machine/
socialism  wright.erik_olin 
21 days ago
Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America, Dawson
"Nineteenth-century paleontologists boasted that, shown a single bone, they could identify or even reconstruct the extinct creature it came from with infallible certainty—“Show me the bone, and I will describe the animal!” Paleontologists such as Georges Cuvier and Richard Owen were heralded as scientific virtuosos, sometimes even veritable wizards, capable of resurrecting the denizens of an ancient past from a mere glance at a fragmentary bone. Such extraordinary feats of predictive reasoning relied on the law of correlation, which proposed that each element of an animal corresponds mutually with each of the others, so that a carnivorous tooth must be accompanied by a certain kind of jawbone, neck, stomach, limbs, and feet.
"Show Me the Bone tells the story of the rise and fall of this famous claim, tracing its fortunes from Europe to America and showing how it persisted in popular science and literature and shaped the practices of paleontologists long after the method on which it was based had been refuted. In so doing, Gowan Dawson reveals how decisively the practices of the scientific elite were—and still are—shaped by their interactions with the general public."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  biology  paleontology 
21 days ago
The Suit: Form, Function and Style, Breward
"Be as in love with your jeans, sweatpants, or flannels as you want, it’s hard to refute the sumptuous feel of a finely tailored suit—as well as the statement of power that comes with it. For over a century the suit has dominated wardrobes, its simple form making it the go-to attire for boardrooms, churches, or cocktail bars—anywhere one wants to make an impression. But this ubiquity has allowed us to take the suit’s history for granted, and its complex construction, symbolic power, and many shifting meanings have been lost to all but the most devout sartorialists.
"In The Suit, Christopher Breward unstitches the story of our most familiar garment. He shows how its emergence at the end of the seventeenth century reflects important political rivalries and the rise of modern democratic society. He follows the development of technologies in the textile industry and shows how they converge on the suit as an ideal template of modern fashion, which he follows across the globe—to South and East Asia especially—where the suit became an icon of Western civilization. The quintessential emblem of conformity and the status quo, the suit ironically became, as Breward unveils, the perfect vehicle for artists, musicians, and social revolutionaries to symbolically undermine hegemonic culture, twisting and tearing the suit into political statements. Looking at the suit’s adoption by women, Breward goes on to discuss the ways it signals and engages gender. He closes by looking at the suit’s apparent decline—woe the tyranny of business casual!—and questioning its survival in the twenty-first century.
"Beautifully illustrated and written with the authority a Zegna or Armani itself commands, The Suit offers new perspectives on this familiar—yet special—garment."
books:noted  clothing  history 
21 days ago
New Left Project | Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy
I don't have much time for "participatory economics" --- I've said why at some length in my _Red Plenty_ piece --- but their hearts are in the right place, and Wright is good.
socialism  books:noted  to:NB  wright.erik_olin 
21 days ago
Principles underlying sensory map topography in primary visual cortex : Nature : Nature Publishing Group
"The primary visual cortex contains a detailed map of the visual scene, which is represented according to multiple stimulus dimensions including spatial location, ocular dominance and stimulus orientation. The maps for spatial location and ocular dominance arise from the spatial arrangement of thalamic afferent axons in the cortex. However, the origins of the other maps remain unclear. Here we show that the cortical maps for orientation, direction and retinal disparity in the cat (Felis catus) are all strongly related to the organization of the map for spatial location of light (ON) and dark (OFF) stimuli, an organization that we show is OFF-dominated, OFF-centric and runs orthogonal to ocular dominance columns. Because this ON–OFF organization originates from the clustering of ON and OFF thalamic afferents in the visual cortex, we conclude that all main features of visual cortical topography, including orientation, direction and retinal disparity, follow a common organizing principle that arranges thalamic axons with similar retinotopy and ON–OFF polarity in neighbouring cortical regions."
to:NB  neuroscience  neural_coding_and_decoding  cats  science_cat_blogging 
26 days ago
Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex : Nature : Nature Publishing Group
"The meaning of language is represented in regions of the cerebral cortex collectively known as the ‘semantic system’. However, little of the semantic system has been mapped comprehensively, and the semantic selectivity of most regions is unknown. Here we systematically map semantic selectivity across the cortex using voxel-wise modelling of functional MRI (fMRI) data collected while subjects listened to hours of narrative stories. We show that the semantic system is organized into intricate patterns that seem to be consistent across individuals. We then use a novel generative model to create a detailed semantic atlas. Our results suggest that most areas within the semantic system represent information about specific semantic domains, or groups of related concepts, and our atlas shows which domains are represented in each area. This study demonstrates that data-driven methods—commonplace in studies of human neuroanatomy and functional connectivity—provide a powerful and efficient means for mapping functional representations in the brain."
to:NB  to_read  fmri  cognitive_science  narrative 
26 days ago
Phase transitions in semidefinite relaxations
"Statistical inference problems arising within signal processing, data mining, and machine learning naturally give rise to hard combinatorial optimization problems. These problems become intractable when the dimensionality of the data is large, as is often the case for modern datasets. A popular idea is to construct convex relaxations of these combinatorial problems, which can be solved efficiently for large-scale datasets. Semidefinite programming (SDP) relaxations are among the most powerful methods in this family and are surprisingly well suited for a broad range of problems where data take the form of matrices or graphs. It has been observed several times that when the statistical noise is small enough, SDP relaxations correctly detect the underlying combinatorial structures. In this paper we develop asymptotic predictions for several detection thresholds, as well as for the estimation error above these thresholds. We study some classical SDP relaxations for statistical problems motivated by graph synchronization and community detection in networks. We map these optimization problems to statistical mechanics models with vector spins and use nonrigorous techniques from statistical mechanics to characterize the corresponding phase transitions. Our results clarify the effectiveness of SDP relaxations in solving high-dimensional statistical problems."
to:NB  optimization  statistics  phase_transitions  statistical_mechanics  community_discovery  network_data_analysis 
26 days ago
Population size does not explain past changes in cultural complexity
"Demography is increasingly being invoked to account for features of the archaeological record, such as the technological conservatism of the Lower and Middle Pleistocene, the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, and cultural loss in Holocene Tasmania. Such explanations are commonly justified in relation to population dynamic models developed by Henrich [Henrich J (2004) Am Antiq 69:197–214] and Powell et al. [Powell A, et al. (2009) Science 324(5932):1298–1301], which appear to demonstrate that population size is the crucial determinant of cultural complexity. Here, we show that these models fail in two important respects. First, they only support a relationship between demography and culture in implausible conditions. Second, their predictions conflict with the available archaeological and ethnographic evidence. We conclude that new theoretical and empirical research is required to identify the factors that drove the changes in cultural complexity that are documented by the archaeological record."
to:NB  cultural_evolution  archaeology  re:do-institutions-evolve 
26 days ago
Culture shapes the evolution of cognition
"A central debate in cognitive science concerns the nativist hypothesis, the proposal that universal features of behavior reflect a biologically determined cognitive substrate: For example, linguistic nativism proposes a domain-specific faculty of language that strongly constrains which languages can be learned. An evolutionary stance appears to provide support for linguistic nativism, because coordinated constraints on variation may facilitate communication and therefore be adaptive. However, language, like many other human behaviors, is underpinned by social learning and cultural transmission alongside biological evolution. We set out two models of these interactions, which show how culture can facilitate rapid biological adaptation yet rule out strong nativization. The amplifying effects of culture can allow weak cognitive biases to have significant population-level consequences, radically increasing the evolvability of weak, defeasible inductive biases; however, the emergence of a strong cultural universal does not imply, nor lead to, nor require, strong innate constraints. From this we must conclude, on evolutionary grounds, that the strong nativist hypothesis for language is false. More generally, because such reciprocal interactions between cultural and biological evolution are not limited to language, nativist explanations for many behaviors should be reconsidered: Evolutionary reasoning shows how we can have cognitively driven behavioral universals and yet extreme plasticity at the level of the individual—if, and only if, we account for the human capacity to transmit knowledge culturally. Wherever culture is involved, weak cognitive biases rather than strong innate constraints should be the default assumption."

--- "must conclude ... is false" is too strong, surely?
to:NB  to_read  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  cultural_universals  evolutionary_psychology  evolution_of_cognition 
26 days ago
[1412.6604] Video (language) modeling: a baseline for generative models of natural videos
"We propose a strong baseline model for unsupervised feature learning using video data. By learning to predict missing frames or extrapolate future frames from an input video sequence, the model discovers both spatial and temporal correlations which are useful to represent complex deformations and motion patterns. The models we propose are largely borrowed from the language modeling literature, and adapted to the vision domain by quantizing the space of image patches into a large dictionary. We demonstrate the approach on both a filling and a generation task. For the first time, we show that, after training on natural videos, such a model can predict non-trivial motions over short video sequences."
to:NB  prediction  spatio-temporal_statistics  statistics 
27 days ago
[1502.04681] Unsupervised Learning of Video Representations using LSTMs
"We use multilayer Long Short Term Memory (LSTM) networks to learn representations of video sequences. Our model uses an encoder LSTM to map an input sequence into a fixed length representation. This representation is decoded using single or multiple decoder LSTMs to perform different tasks, such as reconstructing the input sequence, or predicting the future sequence. We experiment with two kinds of input sequences - patches of image pixels and high-level representations ("percepts") of video frames extracted using a pretrained convolutional net. We explore different design choices such as whether the decoder LSTMs should condition on the generated output. We analyze the outputs of the model qualitatively to see how well the model can extrapolate the learned video representation into the future and into the past. We try to visualize and interpret the learned features. We stress test the model by running it on longer time scales and on out-of-domain data. We further evaluate the representations by finetuning them for a supervised learning problem - human action recognition on the UCF-101 and HMDB-51 datasets. We show that the representations help improve classification accuracy, especially when there are only a few training examples. Even models pretrained on unrelated datasets (300 hours of YouTube videos) can help action recognition performance."
to:NB  prediction  spatio-temporal_statistics  statistics  neural_networks  salakhutdinov.ruslan 
27 days ago
[1511.05440] Deep multi-scale video prediction beyond mean square error
"Learning to predict future images from a video sequence involves the construction of an internal representation that models the image evolution accurately, and therefore, to some degree, its content and dynamics. This is why pixel-space video prediction may be viewed as a promising avenue for unsupervised feature learning. In addition, while optical flow has been a very studied problem in computer vision for a long time, future frame prediction is rarely approached. Still, many vision applications could benefit from the knowledge of the next frames of videos, that does not require the complexity of tracking every pixel trajectories. In this work, we train a convolutional network to generate future frames given an input sequence. To deal with the inherently blurry predictions obtained from the standard Mean Squared Error (MSE) loss function, we propose three different and complementary feature learning strategies: a multi-scale architecture, an adversarial training method, and an image gradient difference loss function. We compare our predictions to different published results based on recurrent neural networks on the UCF101 dataset"

--- *grumble* Seriously, Dr. Third Referee? Their results have every single problem you complained about for us, and more. Seriously? *grumble*
to:NB  prediction  spatio-temporal_statistics  neural_networks  statistics 
27 days ago
[1502.04585] The Ladder: A Reliable Leaderboard for Machine Learning Competitions
"The organizer of a machine learning competition faces the problem of maintaining an accurate leaderboard that faithfully represents the quality of the best submission of each competing team. What makes this estimation problem particularly challenging is its sequential and adaptive nature. As participants are allowed to repeatedly evaluate their submissions on the leaderboard, they may begin to overfit to the holdout data that supports the leaderboard. Few theoretical results give actionable advice on how to design a reliable leaderboard. Existing approaches therefore often resort to poorly understood heuristics such as limiting the bit precision of answers and the rate of re-submission.
"In this work, we introduce a notion of "leaderboard accuracy" tailored to the format of a competition. We introduce a natural algorithm called "the Ladder" and demonstrate that it simultaneously supports strong theoretical guarantees in a fully adaptive model of estimation, withstands practical adversarial attacks, and achieves high utility on real submission files from an actual competition hosted by Kaggle.
"Notably, we are able to sidestep a powerful recent hardness result for adaptive risk estimation that rules out algorithms such as ours under a seemingly very similar notion of accuracy. On a practical note, we provide a completely parameter-free variant of our algorithm that can be deployed in a real competition with no tuning required whatsoever."

--- Basically, return the new score if, but only if, the new submission beats the previous best by some threshold. I think this blocks my "flood with models" attack...
learning_theory  cross-validation  have_read  via:arthegall 
29 days ago
Heard, S.: The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively throughout Your Scientific Career. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
"The ability to write clearly is critical to any scientific career. The Scientist's Guide to Writing provides practical advice to help scientists become more effective writers so that their ideas have the greatest possible impact.
"Drawing on his own experience as a scientist, graduate adviser, and editor, Stephen Heard emphasizes that the goal of all scientific writing should be absolute clarity; that good writing takes deliberate practice; and that what many scientists need are not long lists of prescriptive rules but rather direct engagement with their behaviors and attitudes when they write. He combines advice on such topics as how to generate and maintain writing momentum with practical tips on structuring a scientific paper, revising a first draft, handling citations, responding to peer reviews, managing coauthorships, and more."
to:NB  books:noted  writing_advice  science_as_a_social_process  to_teach:undergrad-research 
4 weeks ago
Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds, Fine
"This classic study still provides one of the most acute descriptions available of an often misunderstood subculture: that of fantasy role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Gary Alan Fine immerses himself in several different gaming systems, offering insightful details on the nature of the games and the patterns of interaction among players—as well as their reasons for playing."
to:NB  books:noted  books:coveted  role-playing_games  ethnography  social_life_of_the_mind  via:tsuomela  nerdworld  another_piece_of_my_childhood_becomes_a_part_of_the_historical_record 
4 weeks ago
Surfeit and surface | Big Data & Society
This is awesome. (But it's also completely compatible with causal inference!) Also, the cultural references will probably require footnotes in just 10 years.
social_science_methodology  sociology  data_mining  levi.john_martin  have_read  via:phnk  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  to_teach:data-mining  re:any_p-value_distinguishable_from_zero_is_insufficiently_informative  to:blog 
5 weeks ago
How Pictures Complete Us: The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Divine | Paul Crowther
"Despite the wonders of the digital world, people still go in record numbers to view drawings and paintings in galleries. Why? What is the magic that pictures work on us? This book provides a provocative explanation, arguing that some pictures have special kinds of beauty and sublimity that offer aesthetic transcendence. They take us imaginatively beyond our finite limits and even invoke a sense of the divine. Such aesthetic transcendence forges a relationship with the ultimate and completes us psychologically. Philosophers and theologians sometimes account for this as an effect of art, but How Pictures Complete Us distinguishes itself by revealing how this experience is embodied in pictorial structures and styles. Through detailed discussions of artworks from the Renaissance through postmodern times, Paul Crowther reappraises the entire scope of beauty and the sublime in the context of both representational and abstract art, offering unexpected insights into familiar phenomena such as Ideal beauty, pictorial perspective, and what pictures are in the first place."
to:NB  books:noted  aesthetics  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
5 weeks ago
Thomas-Agnan : Spline Functions and Stochastic Filtering
"Some relationships have been established between unbiased linear predictors of processes, in signal and noise models, minimizing the predictive mean square error and some smoothing spline functions. We construct a new family of multidimensional splines adapted to the prediction of locally homogeneous random fields, whose "m-spectral measure" (to be defined) is absolutely continuous with respect to Lebesgue measure and satisfies some minor assumptions. By considering partial splines, one may include an arbitrary drift in the signal. This type of correspondence underlines the potentialities of cross-fertilization between statistics and the numerical techniques in approximation theory."
to:NB  splines  prediction  filtering  statistics  hilbert_space  fourier_analysis  random_fields  have_read 
5 weeks ago
Foster : Prediction in the Worst Case
"A predictor is a method of estimating the probability of future events over an infinite data sequence. One predictor is as strong as another if for all data sequences the former has at most the mean square error (MSE) of the latter. Given any countable set 𝒟 of predictors, we explicitly construct a predictor S that is at least as strong as every element of 𝒟. Finite sample bounds are also given which hold uniformly on the space of all possible data."
to:NB  individual_sequence_prediction  low-regret_learning  prediction  ensemble_methods  have_read  foster.dean_p.  statistics  calibration 
5 weeks ago
Hardle , Marron : Bootstrap Simultaneous Error Bars for Nonparametric Regression
"Simultaneous error bars are constructed for nonparametric kernel estimates of regression functions. The method is based on the bootstrap, where resampling is done from a suitably estimated residual distribution. The error bars are seen to give asymptotically correct coverage probabilities uniformly over any number of gridpoints. Applications to an economic problem are given and comparison to both pointwise and Bonferroni-type bars is presented through a simulation study."
to:NB  to_read  bootstrap  confidence_sets  regression  nonparametrics  statistics  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  re:ADAfaEPoV 
5 weeks ago
Standardized Assessments of College Learning
"In a new report released with New America’s Higher Education Program, “Standardized Assessments of College Learning: Past and Future,” Fredrik deBoer, a scholar and lecturer at Purdue University, looks at current research regarding assessment policies and outcomes — while making recommendations for developing future assessment for American higher education.
"“Effective assessment of student learning in any context represents a significant challenge, and controversies persist at all levels of education about which methods of data collection and analysis are most effective and appropriate,” writes deBoer. “Some fear that the creation of a widespread testing system at the college level will lead to teaching to the test and invite test fraud.”"
to:NB  to_read  education  academia  standardized_testing 
5 weeks ago
Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does, Ball
"Though at first glance the natural world may appear overwhelming in its diversity and complexity, there are regularities running through it, from the hexagons of a honeycomb to the spirals of a seashell and the branching veins of a leaf. Revealing the order at the foundation of the seemingly chaotic natural world, Patterns in Nature explores not only the math and science but also the beauty and artistry behind nature’s awe-inspiring designs.
"Unlike the patterns we create in technology, architecture, and art, natural patterns are formed spontaneously from the forces that act in the physical world. Very often the same types of pattern and form – spirals, stripes, branches, and fractals, say—recur in places that seem to have nothing in common, as when the markings of a zebra mimic the ripples in windblown sand. That’s because, as Patterns in Nature shows, at the most basic level these patterns can often be described using the same mathematical and physical principles: there is a surprising underlying unity in the kaleidoscope of the natural world. Richly illustrated with 250 color photographs and anchored by accessible and insightful chapters by esteemed science writer Philip Ball, Patterns in Nature reveals the organization at work in vast and ancient forests, powerful rivers, massing clouds, and coastlines carved out by the sea.
"By exploring similarities such as those between a snail shell and the swirling stars of a galaxy, or the branches of a tree and those of a river network, this spectacular visual tour conveys the wonder, beauty, and richness of natural pattern formation."

--- How does this differ from _The Self-Made Tapestry_ (http://bactra.org/reviews/self-made-tapestry/), other than being in print?
to:NB  books:noted  pattern_formation  pretty_pictures  popular_science  ball.philip 
5 weeks ago
The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Argument over What Makes Living Things Tick, Riskin
"Today, a scientific explanation is not meant to ascribe agency to natural phenomena: we would not say a rock falls because it seeks the center of the earth. Even for living things, in the natural sciences and often in the social sciences, the same is true. A modern botanist would not say that plants pursue sunlight. This has not always been the case, nor, perhaps, was it inevitable. Since the seventeenth century, many thinkers have made agency, in various forms, central to science.
"The Restless Clock examines the history of this principle, banning agency, in the life sciences. It also tells the story of dissenters embracing the opposite idea: that agency is essential to nature. The story begins with the automata of early modern Europe, as models for the new science of living things, and traces questions of science and agency through Descartes, Leibniz, Lamarck, and Darwin, among many others. Mechanist science, Jessica Riskin shows, had an associated theology: the argument from design, which found evidence for a designer in the mechanisms of nature. Rejecting such appeals to a supernatural God, the dissenters sought to naturalize agency rather than outsourcing it to a “divine engineer.” Their model cast living things not as passive but as active, self-making machines.
"The conflict between passive- and active-mechanist approaches maintains a subterranean life in current science, shaping debates in fields such as evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. This history promises not only to inform such debates, but also our sense of the possibilities for what it means to engage in science—and even what it means to be alive."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  history_of_ideas  philosophy_of_science  biology  vitalism  automata  mechanism 
5 weeks ago
Variety: The Life of a Roman Concept, Fitzgerald
"The idea of variety may seem too diffuse, obvious, or nebulous to be worth scrutinizing, but modern usage masks the rich history of the term. This book examines the meaning, value, and practice of variety from the vantage point of Latin literature and its reception and reveals the enduring importance of the concept up to the present day.
"William Fitzgerald looks at the definition and use of the Latin term varietas and how it has played out in different works and with different authors. He shows that, starting with the Romans, variety has played a key role in our thinking about nature, rhetoric, creativity, pleasure, aesthetics, and empire. From the lyric to elegy and satire, the concept of variety has helped to characterize and distinguish different genres. Arguing that the ancient Roman ideas and controversies about the value of variety have had a significant afterlife up to our own time, Fitzgerald reveals how modern understandings of diversity and choice derive from what is ultimately an ancient concept."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  diversity  variety  ancient_history 
5 weeks ago
African Ancestry of the White American Population (Stuckert, 1958)
An interesting attempt to work this out from Census figures on the number of people classified as white and black, plus immigration figures, plus a model of mating. There are (important) bits in the middle where it's not clear to me what's data and what's modeling assumptions, much less how sensitive the conclusions are to those assumptions.

--- Is there good sequencing data this could be compared to?
to:NB  to_read  historical_genetics  american_history  the_american_dilemma 
5 weeks ago
Barron : Entropy and the Central Limit Theorem
"A strengthened central limit theorem for densities is established showing monotone convergence in the sense of relative entropy."

--- Now _that_ is how you write an abstract.
to:NB  to_read  information_theory  central_limit_theorem  probability  barron.andrew_w.  re:almost_none  via:tslumley 
5 weeks ago
Scheve, K. and Stasavage, D.: Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe. (eBook and Hardcover)
"In today's social climate of acknowledged and growing inequality, why are there not greater efforts to tax the rich? In this wide-ranging and provocative book, Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage ask when and why countries tax their wealthiest citizens—and their answers may surprise you.
"Taxing the Rich draws on unparalleled evidence from twenty countries over the last two centuries to provide the broadest and most in-depth history of progressive taxation available. Scheve and Stasavage explore the intellectual and political debates surrounding the taxation of the wealthy while also providing the most detailed examination to date of when taxes have been levied against the rich and when they haven't. Fairness in debates about taxing the rich has depended on different views of what it means to treat people as equals and whether taxing the rich advances or undermines this norm. Scheve and Stasavage argue that governments don't tax the rich just because inequality is high or rising—they do it when people believe that such taxes compensate for the state unfairly privileging the wealthy. Progressive taxation saw its heyday in the twentieth century, when compensatory arguments for taxing the rich focused on unequal sacrifice in mass warfare. Today, as technology gives rise to wars of more limited mobilization, such arguments are no longer persuasive.
"Taxing the Rich shows how the future of tax reform will depend on whether political and economic conditions allow for new compensatory arguments to be made."
to:NB  books:noted  economics  economic_policy  taxes  political_economy 
5 weeks ago
Bowen, W.G. and McPherson, M.S.: Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education. (eBook and Hardcover)
"American higher education faces some serious problems—but they are not the ones most people think. In this brief and accessible book, two leading experts show that many so-called crises—from the idea that typical students are drowning in debt to the belief that tuition increases are being driven by administrative bloat—are exaggerated or simply false. At the same time, many real problems—from the high dropout rate to inefficient faculty staffing—have received far too little attention. In response, William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson provide a frank assessment of the biggest challenges confronting higher education and propose a bold agenda for reengineering essential elements of the system to meet them. The result promises to help shape the debate about higher education for years to come.
"Lesson Plan shows that, for all of its accomplishments, higher education today is falling short when it comes to vital national needs. Too many undergraduates are dropping out or taking too long to graduate; minorities and the poor fare worse than their peers, reinforcing inequality; and college is unaffordable for too many. But these problems could be greatly reduced by making significant changes, including targeting federal and state funding more efficiently; allocating less money for “merit aid” and more to match financial need; creating a respected “teaching corps” that would include nontenure faculty; improving basic courses in fields such as math by combining adaptive learning and face-to-face teaching; strengthening leadership; and encouraging more risk taking. It won’t be easy for faculty, administrators, trustees, and legislators to make such sweeping changes, but only by doing so will they make it possible for our colleges and universities to meet the nation’s demands tomorrow and into the future."
to:NB  books:noted  education  academia  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
5 weeks ago
Wuthnow, R.: Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
"Tracing the intersection of religion, race, and power in Texas from Reconstruction through the rise of the Religious Right and the failed presidential bid of Governor Rick Perry, Rough Country illuminates American history since the Civil War in new ways, demonstrating that Texas’s story is also America’s. In particular, Robert Wuthnow shows how distinctions between “us” and “them” are perpetuated and why they are so often shaped by religion and politics.
"Early settlers called Texas a rough country. Surviving there necessitated defining evil, fighting it, and building institutions in the hope of advancing civilization. Religion played a decisive role. Today, more evangelical Protestants live in Texas than in any other state. They have influenced every presidential election for fifty years, mobilized powerful efforts against abortion and same-sex marriage, and been a driving force in the Tea Party movement. And religion has always been complicated by race and ethnicity.
"Drawing from memoirs, newspapers, oral history, voting records, and surveys, Rough Country tells the stories of ordinary men and women who struggled with the conditions they faced, conformed to the customs they knew, and on occasion emerged as powerful national leaders. We see the lasting imprint of slavery, public executions, Jim Crow segregation, and resentment against the federal government. We also observe courageous efforts to care for the sick, combat lynching, provide for the poor, welcome new immigrants, and uphold liberty of conscience.
"A monumental and magisterial history, Rough Country is as much about the rest of America as it is about Texas."
to:NB  books:noted  american_history  us_politics  american_south  american_west  texas  20th_century_history 
5 weeks ago
Schecter, S. and Gintis, H.: Game Theory in Action: An Introduction to Classical and Evolutionary Models. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
"Game Theory in Action is a textbook about using game theory across a range of real-life scenarios. From traffic accidents to the sex lives of lizards, Stephen Schecter and Herbert Gintis show students how game theory can be applied in diverse areas including animal behavior, political science, and economics.
"The book's examples and problems look at such fascinating topics as crime-control strategies, climate-change negotiations, and the power of the Oracle at Delphi. The text includes a substantial treatment of evolutionary game theory, where strategies are not chosen through rational analysis, but emerge by virtue of being successful. This is the side of game theory that is most relevant to biology; it also helps to explain how human societies evolve.
"Aimed at students who have studied basic calculus and some differential equations, Game Theory in Action is the perfect way to learn the concepts and practical tools of game theory."
to:NB  books:noted  game_theory  evolutionary_game_theory  gintis.herbert  kith_and_kin 
5 weeks ago
Boosting With the L2 Loss - Journal of the American Statistical Association
"This article investigates a computationally simple variant of boosting, L2Boost, which is constructed from a functional gradient descent algorithm with the L2-loss function. Like other boosting algorithms, L2Boost uses many times in an iterative fashion a prechosen fitting method, called the learner. Based on the explicit expression of refitting of residuals of L2Boost, the case with (symmetric) linear learners is studied in detail in both regression and classification. In particular, with the boosting iteration m working as the smoothing or regularization parameter, a new exponential bias-variance trade-off is found with the variance (complexity) term increasing very slowly as m tends to infinity. When the learner is a smoothing spline, an optimal rate of convergence result holds for both regression and classification and the boosted smoothing spline even adapts to higher-order, unknown smoothness. Moreover, a simple expansion of a (smoothed) 0–1 loss function is derived to reveal the importance of the decision boundary, bias reduction, and impossibility of an additive bias-variance decomposition in classification. Finally, simulation and real dataset results are obtained to demonstrate the attractiveness of L2Boost. In particular, we demonstrate that L2Boosting with a novel component-wise cubic smoothing spline is both practical and effective in the presence of high-dimensional predictors."
to:NB  statistics  regression  splines  smoothing  classifiers  ensemble_methods  have_read  via:djm1107  buhlmann.peter  yu.bin 
5 weeks ago
Thermodynamics as a science of symmetry - Springer
"A new interpretation of thermodynamics is advanced; thermodynamics is the study of those properties of macroscopic matter that follow from the symmetry properties of physical laws, mediated through the statistics of large systems."
to:NB  have_read  physics  statistical_mechanics  thermodynamics  re:what_is_a_macrostate 
6 weeks ago
Adaptively Rational Learning - Springer
"Research on adaptive rationality has focused principally on inference, judgment, and decision-making that lead to behaviors and actions. These processes typically require cognitive representations as input, and these representations must presumably be acquired via learning. Nonetheless, there has been little work on the nature of, and justification for, adaptively rational learning processes. In this paper, we argue that there are strong reasons to believe that some learning is adaptively rational in the same way as judgment and decision-making. Indeed, overall adaptive rationality can only properly be assessed for pairs of learning and decision processes. We thus present a formal framework for modeling such pairs of cognitive processes, and thereby assessing their adaptive rationality relative to the environment and the agent’s goals. We then use this high-level formal framework on specific cases by (a) demonstrating how natural formal constraints on decision-making can lead to substantive predictions about adaptively rational learning and representation; and (b) characterizing adaptively rational learning for fast-and-frugal one-reason decision-making."
to:NB  bounded_rationality  cognitive_science  learning_in_animals  danks.david  decision-making 
6 weeks ago
Nudge Versus Boost: How Coherent are Policy and Theory? - Springer
"If citizens’ behavior threatens to harm others or seems not to be in their own interest (e.g., risking severe head injuries by riding a motorcycle without a helmet), it is not uncommon for governments to attempt to change that behavior. Governmental policy makers can apply established tools from the governmental toolbox to this end (e.g., laws, regulations, incentives, and disincentives). Alternatively, they can employ new tools that capitalize on the wealth of knowledge about human behavior and behavior change that has been accumulated in the behavioral sciences (e.g., psychology and economics). Two contrasting approaches to behavior change are nudge policies and boost policies. These policies rest on fundamentally different research programs on bounded rationality, namely, the heuristics and biases program and the simple heuristics program, respectively. This article examines the policy–theory coherence of each approach. To this end, it identifies the necessary assumptions underlying each policy and analyzes to what extent these assumptions are implied by the theoretical commitments of the respective research program. Two key results of this analysis are that the two policy approaches rest on diverging assumptions and that both suffer from disconnects with the respective theoretical program, but to different degrees: Nudging appears to be more adversely affected than boosting does. The article concludes with a discussion of the limits of the chosen evaluative dimension, policy–theory coherence, and reviews some other benchmarks on which policy programs can be assessed."
to:NB  public_policy  bounded_rationality  re:anti-nudge 
6 weeks ago
Surrogate Science
"The application of statistics to science is not a neutral act. Statistical tools have shaped and were also shaped by its objects. In the social sciences, statistical methods fundamentally changed research practice, making statistical inference its centerpiece. At the same time, textbook writers in the social sciences have transformed rivaling statistical systems into an apparently monolithic method that could be used mechanically. The idol of a universal method for scientific inference has been worshipped since the “inference revolution” of the 1950s. Because no such method has ever been found, surrogates have been created, most notably the quest for significant p values. This form of surrogate science fosters delusions and borderline cheating and has done much harm, creating, for one, a flood of irreproducible results. Proponents of the “Bayesian revolution” should be wary of chasing yet another chimera: an apparently universal inference procedure. A better path would be to promote both an understanding of the various devices in the “statistical toolbox” and informed judgment to select among these."
to:NB  statistics  social_science_methodology  gigerenzer.gerd  to_read 
6 weeks ago
The Causal Devolution
"This article discusses causal analysis as a paradigm for explanation in sociology. It begins with a detailed analysis of causality statements in Durkheim's Le suicide. It then discusses the history of causality assumptions in sociological writing since the 1930s, with brief remarks about the related discipline of econometrics. The author locates the origins of causal argument in a generation of brilliant and brash young sociologists with a model and a mission and then briefly considers the history of causality concepts in modern philosophy. The article closes with reflections on the problems created for sociology by the presumption that causal accounting is the epitome of explanation within the discipline. It is argued that sociology should spend more effort on (and should better reward) descriptive work."
to:NB  have_read  causality  causal_inference  sociology  social_science_methodology  abbott.andrew 
6 weeks ago
Forecasting High Tide: Predicting Times of Elevated Activity in Online Social Media
"Social media provides a powerful platform for influencers to broadcast content to a large audience of followers. In order to reach the greatest number of users, an important first step is to identify times when a large portion of a target population is active on social media, which requires modeling the behavior of those individuals. We propose three methods for behavior modeling: a simple seasonality approach based on time-of-day and day-of-week, an autoregressive approach based on aggregate fluctuations from seasonality, and an aggregation-of-individuals approach based on modeling the behavior of individual users. We test these methods on data collected from a set of users on Twitter in 2011 and 2012. We find that the performance of the methods at predicting times of high activity depends strongly on the tradeoff between true and false positives, with no method dominating. Our results highlight the challenges and opportunities involved in modeling complex social systems, and demonstrate how influencers interested in forecasting potential user engagement can use complexity modeling to make better decisions."
to:NB  time_series  prediction  statistics  social_media  kith_and_kin  girvan.michelle  darmon.david  rand.william 
7 weeks ago
First Impressions # 71: Marc Van De Mieroop on the Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia - The Marginalia Review of Books
"Long before Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, Babylonians developed their own rational system for exploring truth. Joseph Ryan Kelly talks with Marc Van De Mieroop about his new book, Philosophy before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth an Ancient Babylonia. Van De Mieroop is Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History at Columbia University and author of numerous books on various aspects of ancient Near Eastern history, Egyptian history, and World History."

- On listening, disappointing; "making up a story for every syntactically valid combination of terms, regardless of semantics" != "rational thought".
interview  philosophy  history_of_ideas  mesopotamia  ancient_history  van_de_mieroop.marc 
7 weeks ago
Identifying Formal and Informal Influence in Technology Adoption with Network Externalities
"Firms introducing network technologies (whose benefits depend on who installs the technology) need to understand which user characteristics confer the greatest network benefits on other potential adopters. To examine which adopter characteristics matter, I use the introduction of a video-messaging technology in an investment bank. I use data on its 2,118 employees, their adoption decisions, and their 2.4 million subsequent calls. The video-messaging technology can also be used to watch TV. Exogenous shocks to the benefits of watching TV are used to identify the causal (network) externality of one individual user's adoption on others' adoption decisions. I allow this network externality to vary in size with a variety of measures of informal and formal influence. I find that adoption by either managers or workers in “boundary spanner” positions has a large impact on the adoption decisions of employees who wish to communicate with them. Adoption by ordinary workers has a negligible impact. This suggests that firms should target those who derive their informal influence from occupying key boundary-spanning positions in communication networks, in addition to those with sources of formal influence, when launching a new network technology."
to:NB  causal_inference  instrumental_variables  diffusion_of_innovations  statistics  social_influence  social_networks  re:homophily_and_confounding  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  via:mcfowland 
7 weeks ago
teaching mathematics - Oxford Blog
"I've tried to make this a more positive piece, about some of the things I think children should learn about mathematics in primary school, along with a random collection of ideas for actual teaching."
mathematics  education  yee.danny  probably_utopian  still_goood_ideas  kith_and_kin 
7 weeks ago
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