[1301.1273] Bayes and Frequentism: a Particle Physicist's perspective
Decent, but unspectacular. More Bayes-friendly than I'd be (of course).
to:NB  statistics  particle_physics 
19 hours ago
Smith, A.T: The Political Machine: Assembling Sovereignty in the Bronze Age Caucasus. (eBook and Hardcover)
"The Political Machine investigates the essential role that material culture plays in the practices and maintenance of political sovereignty. Through an archaeological exploration of the Bronze Age Caucasus, Adam Smith demonstrates that beyond assemblies of people, polities are just as importantly assemblages of things—from ballots and bullets to crowns, regalia, and licenses. Smith looks at the ways that these assemblages help to forge cohesive publics, separate sovereigns from a wider social mass, and formalize governance—and he considers how these developments continue to shape politics today.
"Smith shows that the formation of polities is as much about the process of manufacturing assemblages as it is about disciplining subjects, and that these material objects or “machines” sustain communities, orders, and institutions. The sensibilities, senses, and sentiments connecting people to things enabled political authority during the Bronze Age and fortify political power even in the contemporary world. Smith provides a detailed account of the transformation of communities in the Caucasus, from small-scale early Bronze Age villages committed to egalitarianism, to Late Bronze Age polities predicated on radical inequality, organized violence, and a centralized apparatus of rule."

--- I guess Deleuzian archaeology is a thing?
to:NB  books:noted  archaeology  state-building 
Henrich, J.: The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. (eBook and Hardcover)
"Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often unable to solve basic problems, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced innovative technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into environments across the globe. What has enabled us to dominate such a vast range of environments, more than any other species? As this book shows, the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains—in the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another.
"Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, hunter-gatherers, neuroscientists, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species’ genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Further on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and that this particular culture-gene interaction has propelled our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory."
to:NB  books:noted  human_evolution  collective_cognition  social_life_of_the_mind  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  popular_social_science 
Plant Sensing and Communication, Karban
"In Plant Sensing and Communication, Richard Karban provides the first comprehensive overview of what is known about how plants perceive their environments, communicate those perceptions, and learn. Facing many of the same challenges as animals, plants have developed many similar capabilities: they sense light, chemicals, mechanical stimulation, temperature, electricity, and sound. Moreover, prior experiences have lasting impacts on sensitivity and response to cues; plants, in essence, have memory. Nor are their senses limited to the processes of an individual plant: plants eavesdrop on the cues and behaviors of neighbors and—for example, through flowers and fruits—exchange information with other types of organisms. Far from inanimate organisms limited by their stationary existence, plants, this book makes unquestionably clear, are in constant and lively discourse."
to:NB  books:noted  cognitive_science  biology  botany 
Margetts, H., John, P., Hale, S., Yasseri, T.: Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action. (eBook and Hardcover)
"As people spend increasing proportions of their daily lives using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, they are being invited to support myriad political causes by sharing, liking, endorsing, or downloading. Chain reactions caused by these tiny acts of participation form a growing part of collective action today, from neighborhood campaigns to global political movements. Political Turbulence reveals that, in fact, most attempts at collective action online don’t succeed, but some give rise to huge mobilizations—even revolutions.
"Drawing on large-scale data generated from the Internet and real-world events, this book shows how mobilizations that succeed are unpredictable, unstable, and often unsustainable. To better understand this unruly new force in the political world, the authors use experiments that test how social media influence citizens deciding whether or not to participate. They show how different personality types react to these social influences and identify which types of people are willing to participate at an early stage in a mobilization when there are few supporters or signals of viability. The authors argue that pluralism is the model of democracy that is emerging in the social media age—not the ordered, organized vision of early pluralists, but a chaotic, turbulent form of politics."
to:NB  books:noted  social_media  networked_life  political_science  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  collective_action 
Patel, K.: The New Deal: A Global History. (eBook and Hardcover)
"The New Deal: A Global History provides a radically new interpretation of a pivotal period in U.S. history. The first comprehensive study of the New Deal in a global context, the book compares American responses to the international crisis of capitalism and democracy during the 1930s to responses by other countries around the globe—not just in Europe but also in Latin America, Asia, and other parts of the world. Work creation, agricultural intervention, state planning, immigration policy, the role of mass media, forms of political leadership, and new ways of ruling America’s colonies—all had parallels elsewhere and unfolded against a backdrop of intense global debates.
"By avoiding the distortions of American exceptionalism, Kiran Klaus Patel shows how America’s reaction to the Great Depression connected it to the wider world. Among much else, the book explains why the New Deal had enormous repercussions on China; why Franklin D. Roosevelt studied the welfare schemes of Nazi Germany; and why the New Dealers were fascinated by cooperatives in Sweden—but ignored similar schemes in Japan."
to:NB  books:noted  american_history  comparative_history 
Andrade, T.: The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History. (Hardcover)
"The Chinese invented gunpowder and began exploring its military uses as early as the 900s, four centuries before the technology passed to the West. But by the early 1800s, China had fallen so far behind the West in gunpowder warfare that it was easily defeated by Britain in the Opium War of 1839–42. What happened? In The Gunpowder Age, Tonio Andrade offers a compelling new answer, opening a fresh perspective on a key question of world history: why did the countries of western Europe surge to global importance starting in the 1500s while China slipped behind?
"Historians have long argued that gunpowder weapons helped Europeans establish global hegemony. Yet the inhabitants of what is today China not only invented guns and bombs but also, Andrade shows, continued to innovate in gunpowder technology through the early 1700s—much longer than previously thought. Why, then, did China become so vulnerable? Andrade argues that one significant reason is that it was out of practice fighting wars, having enjoyed nearly a century of relative peace, since 1760. Indeed, he demonstrates that China—like Europe—was a powerful military innovator, particularly during times of great warfare, such as the violent century starting after the Opium War, when the Chinese once again quickly modernized their forces. Today, China is simply returning to its old position as one of the world’s great military powers."
to:NB  books:noted  china  early_modern_world_history  gunpowder  mother_courage_raises_the_west  imperialism 
Van De Mieroop, M.: Philosophy before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia. (eBook and Hardcover)
"There is a growing recognition that philosophy isn’t unique to the West, that it didn’t begin only with the classical Greeks, and that Greek philosophy was influenced by Near Eastern traditions. Yet even today there is a widespread assumption that what came before the Greeks was “before philosophy.” In Philosophy before the Greeks, Marc Van De Mieroop, an acclaimed historian of the ancient Near East, presents a groundbreaking argument that, for three millennia before the Greeks, one Near Eastern people had a rich and sophisticated tradition of philosophy fully worthy of the name.
"In the first century BC, the Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily praised the Babylonians for their devotion to philosophy. Showing the justice of Diodorus’s comment, this is the first book to argue that there were Babylonian philosophers and that they studied knowledge systematically using a coherent system of logic rooted in the practices of cuneiform script. Van De Mieroop uncovers Babylonian approaches to knowledge in three areas: the study of language, which in its analysis of the written word formed the basis of all logic; the art of divination, which interpreted communications between gods and humans; and the rules of law, which confirmed that royal justice was founded on truth.
"The result is an innovative intellectual history of the ancient Near Eastern world during the many centuries in which Babylonian philosophers inspired scholars throughout the region—until the first millennium BC, when the breakdown of this cosmopolitan system enabled others, including the Greeks, to develop alternative methods of philosophical reasoning"
to:NB  books:noted  ancient_history  philosophy  history_of_ideas  history_of_science  mesopotamia  coveted 
Edmunds, L.: Stealing Helen: The Myth of the Abducted Wife in Comparative Perspective. (eBook and Hardcover)
"It’s a familiar story: a beautiful woman is abducted and her husband journeys to recover her. This story’s best-known incarnation is also a central Greek myth—the abduction of Helen that led to the Trojan War. Stealing Helen surveys a vast range of folktales and texts exhibiting the story pattern of the abducted beautiful wife and makes a detailed comparison with the Helen of Troy myth. Lowell Edmunds shows that certain Sanskrit, Welsh, and Old Irish texts suggest there was an Indo-European story of the abducted wife before the Helen myth of the Iliad became known.
"Investigating Helen’s status in ancient Greek sources, Edmunds argues that if Helen was just one trope of the abducted wife, the quest for Helen’s origin in Spartan cult can be abandoned, as can the quest for an Indo-European goddess who grew into the Helen myth. He explains that Helen was not a divine essence but a narrative figure that could replicate itself as needed, at various times or places in ancient Greece. Edmunds recovers some of these narrative Helens, such as those of the Pythagoreans and of Simon Magus, which then inspired the Helens of the Faust legend and Goethe.
"Stealing Helen offers a detailed critique of prevailing views behind the “real” Helen and presents an eye-opening exploration of the many sources for this international mythical and literary icon."
to:NB  books:noted  mythology 
Klepper, S.; Braguinsky, S., Hounshell, D.A., eds.: Experimental Capitalism: The Nanoeconomics of American High-Tech Industries. (eBook and Hardcover)
"For much of the twentieth century, American corporations led the world in terms of technological progress. Why did certain industries have such great success? Experimental Capitalism examines six key industries—automobiles, pneumatic tires, television receivers, semiconductors, lasers, and penicillin—and tracks the highs and lows of American high-tech capitalism and the resulting innovation landscape. Employing “nanoeconomics”—a deep dive into the formation and functioning of companies—Steven Klepper determines how specific companies emerged to become the undisputed leaders that altered the course of their industry’s evolution.
"Klepper delves into why a small number of firms came to dominate their industries for many years after an initial period of tumult, including General Motors, Firestone, and Intel. Even though capitalism is built on the idea of competition among many, he shows how the innovation process naturally led to such dominance. Klepper explores how this domination influenced the search for further innovations. He also considers why industries cluster in specific geographical areas, such as semiconductors in northern California, cars in Detroit, and tires in Akron. He finds that early leading firms serve as involuntary training grounds for the next generation of entrepreneurs who spin off new firms into the surrounding region. Klepper concludes his study with a discussion of the impact of government and the potential for policy to enhance a nation’s high-tech industrial base."
to:NB  books:noted  economics  innovation  economic_history  imperfect_competition 
Imhausen, A.: Mathematics in Ancient Egypt: A Contextual History. (eBook and Hardcover)
"Mathematics in Ancient Egypt traces the development of Egyptian mathematics, from the end of the fourth millennium BC—and the earliest hints of writing and number notation—to the end of the pharaonic period in Greco-Roman times. Drawing from mathematical texts, architectural drawings, administrative documents, and other sources, Annette Imhausen surveys three thousand years of Egyptian history to present an integrated picture of theoretical mathematics in relation to the daily practices of Egyptian life and social structures.
"Imhausen shows that from the earliest beginnings, pharaonic civilization used numerical techniques to efficiently control and use their material resources and labor. Even during the Old Kingdom, a variety of metrological systems had already been devised. By the Middle Kingdom, procedures had been established to teach mathematical techniques to scribes in order to make them proficient administrators for their king. Imhausen looks at counterparts to the notation of zero, suggests an explanation for the evolution of unit fractions, and analyzes concepts of arithmetic techniques. She draws connections and comparisons to Mesopotamian mathematics, examines which individuals in Egyptian society held mathematical knowledge, and considers which scribes were trained in mathematical ideas and why."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_mathematics  history_of_science  science_as_a_social_process  mathematics  ancient_history  egypt 
Higham, N., ed.: The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics (Hardcover).
The PCM is an absolutely wonderful volume, so I look forward to this.
to:NB  books:noted  mathematics 
Schlozman, D.: When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
"Throughout American history, some social movements, such as organized labor and the Christian Right, have forged influential alliances with political parties, while others, such as the antiwar movement, have not. When Movements Anchor Parties provides a bold new interpretation of American electoral history by examining five prominent movements and their relationships with political parties.
"Taking readers from the Civil War to today, Daniel Schlozman shows how two powerful alliances—those of organized labor and Democrats in the New Deal, and the Christian Right and Republicans since the 1970s—have defined the basic priorities of parties and shaped the available alternatives in national politics. He traces how they diverged sharply from three other major social movements that failed to establish a place inside political parties—the abolitionists following the Civil War, the Populists in the 1890s, and the antiwar movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Moving beyond a view of political parties simply as collections of groups vying for preeminence, Schlozman explores how would-be influencers gain influence—or do not. He reveals how movements join with parties only when the alliance is beneficial to parties, and how alliance exacts a high price from movements. Their sweeping visions give way to compromise and partial victories. Yet as Schlozman demonstrates, it is well worth paying the price as movements reorient parties’ priorities."
to:NB  books:noted  political_science  political_parties  us_politics  social_movements 
Stillinger, F.H.: Energy Landscapes, Inherent Structures, and Condensed-Matter Phenomena (eBook and Hardcover).
"This book presents an authoritative and in-depth treatment of potential energy landscape theory, a powerful analytical approach to describing the atomic and molecular interactions in condensed-matter phenomena. Drawing on the latest developments in the computational modeling of many-body systems, Frank Stillinger applies this approach to a diverse range of substances and systems, including crystals, liquids, glasses and other amorphous solids, polymers, and solvent-suspended biomolecules.
"Stillinger focuses on the topography of the multidimensional potential energy hypersurface created when a large number of atoms or molecules simultaneously interact with one another. He explains how the complex landscape topography separates uniquely into individual “basins,” each containing a local potential energy minimum or “inherent structure,” and he shows how to identify interbasin transition states—saddle points—that reside in shared basin boundaries. Stillinger describes how inherent structures and their basins can be classified and enumerated by depth, curvatures, and other attributes, and how those enumerations lead logically from vastly complicated multidimensional landscapes to properties observed in the real three-dimensional world."
to:NB  books:noted  physics  statistical_mechanics 
Wow! signal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
OK, this is weird, but so were pulsars. (Beaming "10,000 Twitter messages" in reply was probably not a good idea on any number of levels, however.)
astronomy  space  seti  novel_fodder 
2 days ago
Beckwith, C.I.: Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. (eBook and Hardcover)
"Pyrrho of Elis accompanied Alexander the Great to Central Asia and India during the Graeco-Macedonian invasion and conquest of the Persian Empire in 334–324 BC, and while there met with teachers of Early Buddhism. Greek Buddha shows how Buddhism shaped the philosophy of Pyrrho, the famous founder of Pyrrhonian scepticism in ancient Greece. Identifying Pyrrho’s basic teachings with those of Early Buddhism, Christopher I. Beckwith traces the origins of a major tradition in Greek philosophy to Gandhāra, a country in Central Asia and northwestern India.
"Using a range of primary sources, he systematically looks at the teachings and practices of Pyrrho and of Early Buddhism, including those preserved in testimonies by and about Pyrrho, in the report on Indian philosophy two decades later by the Seleucid ambassador Megasthenes, in the first-person edicts by the Indian king Devānāṃpriya Priyadarśi referring to a popular variety of the Dharma in the early third century BC, and in Taoist echoes of Gautama’s Dharma in Warring States China. Beckwith demonstrates how the teachings of Pyrrho agree closely with those of the Buddha śākyamuni, “the Scythian Sage.” In the process, he identifies eight distinct attested philosophical schools in ancient northwestern India and Central Asia, including Early Zoroastrianism, Early Brahmanism, and several forms of Early Buddhism. Beckwith then shows the influence that Pyrrho’s brand of scepticism had on the evolution of Western thought, first in Antiquity, and later, during the Enlightenment, on the great philosopher and self-proclaimed Pyrrhonian, David Hume."

--- This was (IIRC) a side-plot in L. Sprague de Camp's historical novel _An Elephant for Aristotle_. I am somehow not surprised that if anyone were to advance it as a serious historical thesis, it would be Beckwith.
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  cultural_exchange  ancient_history  buddhism  pyrrhonism  philosophy 
6 days ago
yART Sale | Center for the Arts
Sunday, 28 June. Not quite around the corner from me but in the neighborhood.
7 days ago
PowellsBooks.Blog – How Authentic Is Modern Yoga? - Powell's Books
"It turns out that the physical practice now known as "yoga" in the West was largely created by Indian nationalists in the early 20th century. Seeking an authentically Indian version of what was then called "physical culture" — basically, physical fitness — they drew on medieval hatha yoga and traditional Indian wrestling exercises, but also on British army calisthenics and, according to Singleton, on the once-famous work of a Danish gymnastics trainer named Neils Bukh. In The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace, N. E. Sjoman describes the yoga of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya — Devi's teacher and one of the most influential yoga masters in history — as a "syncretism," borrowing techniques from a gymnastic text "but presenting it under the name of yoga.""
have_read  books:noted  yoga  history_of_ideas  cultural_exchange  historical_myths  uses_of_the_past  goldberg.michelle 
8 days ago
[1506.06179] Detectability thresholds and optimal algorithms for community structure in dynamic networks
"We study the fundamental limits on learning latent community structure in dynamic networks. Specifically, we study dynamic stochastic block models where nodes change their community membership over time, but where edges are generated independently at each time step. In this setting (which is a special case of several existing models), we are able to derive the detectability threshold exactly, as a function of the rate of change and the strength of the communities. Below this threshold, we claim that no algorithm can identify the communities better than chance. We then give two algorithms that are optimal in the sense that they succeed all the way down to this limit. The first uses belief propagation (BP), which gives asymptotically optimal accuracy, and the second is a fast spectral clustering algorithm, based on linearizing the BP equations. We verify our analytic and algorithmic results via numerical simulation, and close with a brief discussion of extensions and open questions."
to:NB  network_data_analysis  community_discovery  kith_and_kin  clauset.aaron  moore.cristopher 
9 days ago
Information-theoretic optimality of observation-driven time series models for continuous responses
"We investigate information-theoretic optimality properties of the score function of the predictive likelihood as a device for updating a real-valued time-varying parameter in a univariate observation-driven model with continuous responses. We restrict our attention to models with updates of one lag order. The results provide theoretical justification for a class of score-driven models which includes the generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity model as a special case. Our main contribution is to show that only parameter updates based on the score will always reduce the local Kullback–Leibler divergence between the true conditional density and the model-implied conditional density. This result holds irrespective of the severity of model misspecification. We also show that use of the score leads to a considerably smaller global Kullback–Leibler divergence in empirically relevant settings. We illustrate the theory with an application to time-varying volatility models. We show that the reduction in Kullback–Leibler divergence across a range of different settings can be substantial compared to updates based on, for example, squared lagged observations."
to:NB  statistics  information_theory  estimation  likelihood  prediction 
9 days ago
Lavergne , Maistre , Patilea : A significance test for covariates in nonparametric regression
"We consider testing the significance of a subset of covariates in a nonparametric regression. These covariates can be continuous and/or discrete. We propose a new kernel-based test that smoothes only over the covariates appearing under the null hypothesis, so that the curse of dimensionality is mitigated. The test statistic is asymptotically pivotal and the rate of which the test detects local alternatives depends only on the dimension of the covariates under the null hypothesis. We show the validity of wild bootstrap for the test. In small samples, our test is competitive compared to existing procedures."
in_NB  hypothesis_testing  regression  nonparametrics  statistics 
9 days ago
Science Outside the Laboratory - Marcel Boumans - Oxford University Press
"The conduct of most of social science occurs outside the laboratory. Such studies in field science explore phenomena that cannot for practical, technical, or ethical reasons be explored under controlled conditions. These phenomena cannot be fully isolated from their environment or investigated by manipulation or intervention. Yet measurement, including rigorous or clinical measurement, does provide analysts with a sound basis for discerning what occurs under field conditions, and why.
"In Science Outside the Laboratory, Marcel Boumans explores the state of measurement theory, its reliability, and the role expert judgment plays in field investigations from the perspective of the philosophy of science. Its discussion of the problems of passive observation, the calculus of observation, the two-model problem, and model-based consensus uses illustrations drawn primarily from economics.
"Rich in research and discussion, the volume clarifies the extent to which measurement provides valid information about objects and events in field sciences, but also has implications for measurement in the laboratory. Scholars in the fields of philosophy of science, social science, and economics will find Science Outside the Laboratory a compelling and informative read."
to:NB  books:noted  measurement  social_science_methodology  philosophy_of_science 
9 days ago
Brummitt , Chatterjee , Dey , Sivakoff : Jigsaw percolation: What social networks can collaboratively solve a puzzle?
"We introduce a new kind of percolation on finite graphs called jigsaw percolation. This model attempts to capture networks of people who innovate by merging ideas and who solve problems by piecing together solutions. Each person in a social network has a unique piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Acquainted people with compatible puzzle pieces merge their puzzle pieces. More generally, groups of people with merged puzzle pieces merge if the groups know one another and have a pair of compatible puzzle pieces. The social network solves the puzzle if it eventually merges all the puzzle pieces. For an Erdős–Rényi social network with n vertices and edge probability pn, we define the critical value pc(n) for a connected puzzle graph to be the pn for which the chance of solving the puzzle equals 1/2. We prove that for the n-cycle (ring) puzzle, pc(n)=Θ(1/logn), and for an arbitrary connected puzzle graph with bounded maximum degree, pc(n)=O(1/logn) and ω(1/nb) for any b>0. Surprisingly, with probability tending to 1 as the network size increases to infinity, social networks with a power-law degree distribution cannot solve any bounded-degree puzzle. This model suggests a mechanism for recent empirical claims that innovation increases with social density, and it might begin to show what social networks stifle creativity and what networks collectively innovate."
in_NB  to_read  collective_cognition  social_networks  re:democratic_cognition 
9 days ago
The Confederate Cause in the Words of Its Leaders - The Atlantic
"The Confederate flag should not come down because it is offensive to African Americans.  The Confederate flag should come down because it is embarrassing to all Americans. The embarrassment is not limited to the flag, itself. The fact that it still flies, that one must have a debate about in 2015, reflects an incredible ignorance. A century and a half after Lincoln was killed, after 750,000 of our ancestors died, Americans still aren’t quite sure why."
something_about_america  the_american_dilemma  coates.ta-nehisi  have_read  us_civil_war  racism  the_nightmare_from_which_we_are_trying_to_awake 
10 days ago
Siena: City of Secrets, Tylus
"Jane Tylus’s Siena is a compelling and intimate portrait of this most secretive of cities, often overlooked by travelers to Italy. Cultural history, intellectual memoir, travelogue, and guidebook, it takes the reader on a quest of discovery through the well- and not-so-well-traveled roads and alleys of a town both medieval and modern.
"As Tylus leads us through the city, she shares her passion for Siena in novelistic prose, while never losing sight of the historical complexities that have made Siena one of the most fascinating and beautiful towns in Europe..."
books:noted  siena  italy  travelers'_tales  art_history 
10 days ago
Suddenly, a leopard print sofa appears
Actually, there is a bit of an evolutionary-ecological puzzle here: given that our ancestral environments would have contained many more big cats than sofas, why _doesn't_ our perceptual system just leap from leopard-spots to leopard? (My suspicion is that this must have to do with environments, plural, but that's just a hand-wave.) Also, Eberhardt's "causal classifiers" might in principle be able to help with this...
via:?  machine_learning  classifiers  neural_networks  pattern_recognition  to:blog 
10 days ago
Biased and Inefficient - A much-needed gap
"There are a surprisingly large number of research papers that use the Shapiro-Wilk normality test on data from NHANES or the British Household Panel Survey, two large multi-stage surveys.  
"This is a bad idea for multiple reasons: ..."
statistics  to_teach:modern_regression  hypothesis_testing 
12 days ago
Pure Intelligence: The Life of William Hyde Wollaston, Usselman
"William Hyde Wollaston made an astonishing number of discoveries in an astonishingly varied number of fields: platinum metallurgy, the existence of ultraviolet radiation, the chemical elements palladium and rhodium, the amino acid cystine, and the physiology of binocular vision, among others...."

--- Why had I never heard of him?
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  lives_of_the_scientists  19th_century_history 
17 days ago
America's Ur-Choropleths
"Gabriel Rossman remarked to me a while ago that most choropleth maps of the U.S. for whatever variable in effect show population density more than anything else. ... The other big variable, in the U.S. case, is Percent Black. Between the two of them, population density and percent black will do a lot to obliterate many a suggestively-patterned map of the United States. Those two variables aren’t explanations of anything in isolation, but if it turns out it’s more useful to know one or both of them instead of the thing you’re plotting, you probably want to reconsider your theory.
"So as a public service, here are America’s two ur-chorolpeths, by county."
have_read  visual_display_of_quantitative_information  something_about_america  healy.kieran  to:blog  the_american_dilemma 
17 days ago
A Macrosociological Theory of Social Structure (Blau, 1977)
"Social structure is conceptualized as the distributions of a population among social positions in a multidimensional space of positions. This quantitative conception of social structure is the basis for a deductive theory of the macrostructure of social associations in society. The likelihood that people engage in intergroup associations under specifiable structural conditions can bededuced from analaytic propositions about structural properties without any assumption about sociopsychological dispositions to establish intergroup associations, indeed, on the assumption that people prefer ingroup relations. Group size governs the probability of intergroup relations, a fact that has paradoxical implications for discrimination by a majority against a minority. Inequality impedes and heterogeneity promotes intergroup relations. The major structural condition that governs intergroup relations is the degree of connection of parameters. Intersecting parameters exert structural constraints to participate in intergroup relations; consolidated parameters impede them. The more differentiation of any kind penetrates into the substructures of society, the greater is the probability that extensive social relations integrate various segments in society."

--- Interesting but not entirely convincing, and not enhanced by the pretense of writing _more geometrico_
in_NB  have_read  sociology  social_networks  via:unfogged 
23 days ago
Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy — Meredith K. Ray | Harvard University Press
"The era of the Scientific Revolution has long been epitomized by Galileo. Yet many women were at its vanguard, deeply invested in empirical culture. They experimented with medicine and practical alchemy at home, at court, and through collaborative networks of practitioners. In academies, salons, and correspondence, they debated cosmological discoveries; in their literary production, they used their knowledge of natural philosophy to argue for their intellectual equality to men.
"Meredith Ray restores the work of these women to our understanding of early modern scientific culture. Her study begins with Caterina Sforza’s alchemical recipes; examines the sixteenth-century vogue for “books of secrets”; and looks at narratives of science in works by Moderata Fonte and Lucrezia Marinella. It concludes with Camilla Erculiani’s letters on natural philosophy and, finally, Margherita Sarrocchi’s defense of Galileo’s “Medicean” stars.
"Combining literary and cultural analysis, Daughters of Alchemy contributes to the emerging scholarship on the variegated nature of scientific practice in the early modern era. Drawing on a range of under-studied material including new analyses of the Sarrocchi–Galileo correspondence and a previously unavailable manuscript of Sforza’s Experimenti, Ray’s book rethinks early modern science, properly reintroducing the integral and essential work of women."
in_NB  books:noted  history_of_science  scientific_revolution  early_modern_european_history 
23 days ago
A Deterministic Partition Function Approximation for Exponential Random Graph Models
"Exponential Random Graphs Models (ERGM) are common, simple statistical models for social net- work and other network structures. Unfortunately, inference and learning with them is hard even for small networks because their partition functions are intractable for precise computation. In this paper, we introduce a new quadratic time deterministic approximation to these partition functions. Our main insight enabling this advance is that subgraph statistics is sufficient to derive a lower bound for partition functions given that the model is not dom- inated by a few graphs. The proposed method dif- fers from existing methods in its ways of exploiting asymptotic properties of subgraph statistics. Com- pared to the current Monte Carlo simulation based methods, the new method is scalable, stable, and precise enough for inference tasks."

--- To look at carefully. Doesn't do anything to address the lack of projectivity, but may suggest useful techniques for related models. (From a quick scan, it looks like it's some sort of Laplace approximation, thus presumably related to large deviations.)
in_NB  exponential_family_random_graphs  computational_statistics  statistics  network_data_analysis 
24 days ago
Code of the Suburb: Inside the World of Young Middle-Class Drug Dealers, Jacques, Wright
"When we think about young people dealing drugs, we tend to picture it happening on urban streets, in disadvantaged, crime-ridden neighborhoods. But drugs are used everywhere—even in upscale suburbs and top-tier high schools—and teenage users in the suburbs tend to buy drugs from their peers, dealers who have their own culture and code, distinct from their urban counterparts.
"In Code of the Suburb, Scott Jacques and Richard Wright offer a fascinating ethnography of the culture of suburban drug dealers. Drawing on fieldwork among teens in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta, they carefully parse the complicated code that governs relationships among buyers, sellers, police, and other suburbanites. That code differs from the one followed by urban drug dealers in one crucial respect: whereas urban drug dealers see violent vengeance as crucial to status and security, the opposite is true for their suburban counterparts. As Jacques and Wright show, suburban drug dealers accord status to deliberate avoidance of conflict, which helps keep their drug markets more peaceful—and, consequently, less likely to be noticed by law enforcement."
to:NB  books:noted  crime  sociology  ethnography  drugs  suburbia 
25 days ago
How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual, Bouk
"Long before the age of "Big Data" or the rise of today's "self-quantifiers," American capitalism embraced "risk"--and proceeded to number our days. Life insurers led the way, developing numerical practices for measuring individuals and groups, predicting their fates, and intervening in their futures. Emanating from the gilded boardrooms of Lower Manhattan and making their way into drawing rooms and tenement apartments across the nation, these practices soon came to change the futures they purported to divine."
in_NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  history_of_statistics  statistics  insurance  economics  the_present_before_it_was_widely_distributed  risk_assessment 
25 days ago
Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, Klinenberg
"Heat waves in the United States kill more people during a typical year than all other natural disasters combined. Until now, no one could explain either the overwhelming number or the heartbreaking manner of the deaths resulting from the 1995 Chicago heat wave. Meteorologists and medical scientists have been unable to account for the scale of the trauma, and political officials have puzzled over the sources of the city's vulnerability. In Heat Wave, Eric Klinenberg takes us inside the anatomy of the metropolis to conduct what he calls a "social autopsy," examining the social, political, and institutional organs of the city that made this urban disaster so much worse than it ought to have been."
to:NB  books:noted  chicago  disasters  sociology  to_teach:undergrad-ADA 
25 days ago
Fatal Isolation: The Devastating Paris Heat Wave of 2003, Keller
"In a cemetery on the southern outskirts of Paris lie the bodies of nearly a hundred of what some have called the first casualties of global climate change. They were the so-called abandoned victims of the worst natural disaster in French history, the devastating heat wave that struck in August 2003, leaving 15,000 dead. They died alone in Paris and its suburbs, and were then buried at public expense, their bodies unclaimed. They died, and to a great extent lived, unnoticed by their neighbors--their bodies undiscovered in some cases until weeks after their deaths."

--- I caught almost a month of this heat-wave as a visitor in Lyons, and can only too easily imagine what this describes.
to:NB  books:noted  disasters  sociology 
25 days ago
How Did Economics Get That Way and What Way Did It Get? on JSTOR
Solow reflecting on the difference between the economics he started to learn in 1940, and what it was in 1997.
in_NB  have_read  economics  social_science_methodology  solow.robert 
25 days ago
Invisible Hands: Self-Organization and the Eighteenth Century, Sheehan, Wahrman
"Human beings inhabit a multitude of apparently ordered systems—natural, social, political, economic, cognitive, and others—but why is the world orderly, and how does this order come to be? In the eighteenth century, older certainties about such orders, rooted in either divine providence or the mechanical operations of nature, began to fall away. In their place arose a new appreciation for the complexity of things, new doubts about simple relations of cause and effect—but also a new ability to imagine the world’s orders, whether natural or manmade, as self-organizing. In Invisible Hands, Jonathan Sheehan and Dror Wahrman trace the many appearances of the language of self-organization in the eighteenth-century West in this landmark contribution to the history of the Enlightenment and eighteenth-century culture."
in_NB  books:noted  coveted  self-organization  history_of_ideas  early_modern_european_history  enlightenment 
26 days ago
Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America, Pearlman
"Haute has blurred with homey cuisine in the last few decades, but how did this radical change happen, and what does it say about current attitudes toward taste? Here with the answers is food writer Alison Pearlman. In Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America, Pearlman investigates what she identifies as the increasing informality in the design of contemporary American restaurants."
books:noted  food  class_struggles_in_america  design 
26 days ago
War, Peace, and Prosperity in the Name of God: The Ottoman Role in Europe's Socioeconomic Evolution, Iyigun
"Differences among religious communities have motivated—and continue to motivate—many of the deadliest conflicts in human history. But how did political power and organized religion become so thoroughly intertwined? And how have religion and religiously motivated conflicts affected the evolution of societies throughout history, from demographic and sociopolitical change to economic growth? War, Peace, and Prosperity in the Name of God turns the focus on the “big three monotheisms”—Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—to consider these questions."
to:NB  books:noted  early_modern_world_history  ottoman_empire 
26 days ago
AEAweb: AER (105,6) p. 1738 - Trafficking Networks and the Mexican Drug War
"Drug trade-related violence has escalated dramatically in Mexico since 2007, and recent years have also witnessed large-scale efforts to combat trafficking, spearheaded by Mexico's conservative PAN party. This study examines the direct and spillover effects of Mexican policy toward the drug trade. Regression discontinuity estimates show that drug-related violence increases substantially after close elections of PAN mayors. Empirical evidence suggests that the violence reflects rival traffickers' attempts to usurp territories after crackdowns have weakened incumbent criminals. Moreover, the study uses a network model of trafficking routes to show that PAN victories divert drug traffic, increasing violence along alternative drug routes."

--- Look at data set & c. to see if this could become a problem set.
to:NB  drugs  crime  causal_inference  mexico  economics  to_teach:undergrad-ADA 
27 days ago
AEAweb: AER (105,6) p. 1780 - Clientelism in Indian Villages
"We study the operation of local governments (Panchayats) in rural Maharashtra, India, using a survey that we designed for this end. Elections are freely contested, fairly tallied, highly participatory, non-coerced, and lead to appointment of representative politicians. However, beneath this veneer of ideal democracy we find evidence of deeply ingrained clientelist vote-trading structures maintained through extra-political means. Elite minorities undermine policies that would redistribute income toward the majority poor. We explore the means by which elites use their dominance of land ownership and traditional social superiority to achieve political control in light of successful majoritarian institutional reforms."
to:NB  political_science  political_economy  india  democracy 
27 days ago
[1505.06472] Partial Information Framework: Aggregating Estimates from Diverse Information Sources
"Prediction polling is an increasingly popular form of crowdsourcing in which multiple participants estimate the probability or magnitude of some future event. These estimates are then aggregated into a single forecast. Historically, randomness in scientific estimation has been generally assumed to arise from unmeasured factors which are viewed as measurement noise. However, when combining subjective estimates, heterogeneity stemming from differences in the participants' information is often more important than measurement noise. This paper formalizes information diversity as an alternative source of such heterogeneity and introduces a novel modeling framework that is particularly well-suited for prediction polls. A practical specification of this framework is proposed and applied to the task of aggregating probability and point estimates from two real-world prediction polls. In both cases our model outperforms standard measurement-error-based aggregators, hence providing evidence in favor of information diversity being the more important source of heterogeneity."
in_NB  prediction  ensemble_methods  collective_cognition  jensen.shane  re:democratic_cognition  to_read 
28 days ago
[1505.05314] Cross-calibration of probabilistic forecasts
"When providing probabilistic forecasts for uncertain future events, it is common to strive for calibrated forecasts, that is, the predictive distribution should be compatible with the observed outcomes. Several notions of calibration are available in the case of a single forecaster alongside with diagnostic tools and statistical tests to assess calibration in practice. Often, there is more than one forecaster providing predictions, and these forecasters may use information of the others and therefore influence one another. We extend common notions of calibration, where each forecaster is analysed individually, to notions of cross-calibration where each forecaster is analysed with respect to the other forecasters in a natural way. It is shown theoretically and in simulation studies that cross-calibration is a stronger requirement on a forecaster than calibration. Analogously to calibration for individual forecasters, we provide diagnostic tools and statistical tests to assess forecasters in terms of cross-calibration. The methods are illustrated in simulation examples and applied to probabilistic forecasts for inflation rates by the Bank of England."
to:NB  prediction  statistics  calibration  ensemble_methods 
28 days ago
[1505.05310] A New View of Predictive State Methods for Dynamical System Learning
"Recently there has been substantial interest in predictive state methods for learning dynamical systems: these algorithms are popular since they often offer a good tradeoff between computational speed and statistical efficiency. Despite their desirable properties, though, predictive state methods can sometimes be difficult to use in practice. E.g., in contrast to the rich literature on supervised learning methods, which allows us to choose from an extensive menu of models and algorithms to suit the prior beliefs we have about properties of the function to be learned, predictive state dynamical system learning methods are comparatively inflexible: it is as if we were restricted to use only linear regression instead of being allowed to choose decision trees, nonparametric regression, or the lasso. To address this problem, we propose a new view of predictive state methods in terms of instrumental variable regression. This view allows us to construct a wide variety of dynamical system learners simply by swapping in different supervised learning methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed methods by experimenting with non-linear regression to learn a hidden Markov model, showing that the resulting algorithm outperforms the correctness of this algorithm follows directly from our general analysis."
to:NB  predictive_state_representations  to_read  re:AoS_project  gordon.geoff 
28 days ago
[1505.01583] Identifiability of directed Gaussian graphical models with one latent source
"We study parameter identifiability of directed Gaussian graphical models with one latent variable. In the scenario we consider, the latent variable is a confounder that forms a source node of the graph and is a parent to all other nodes, which correspond to the observed variables. We give a graphical condition that is sufficient for the Jacobian matrix of the parametrization map to be full rank, which entails that the parametrization is generically finite-to-one, a fact that is sometimes also referred to as local identifiability. We also derive a graphical condition that is necessary for such identifiability. Finally, we give a condition under which generic parameter identifiability can be determined from identifiability of a model associated with a subgraph. The power of these criteria is assessed via an exhaustive algebraic computational study on models with 4, 5, and 6 observable variables."
to:NB  graphical_models  factor_analysis  statistics  identifiability  re:g_paper 
28 days ago
Mistakes Were Made: The Role of Catallactic Bias in the Financial Crisis | Joseph Heath - Academia.edu
I am unpersuaded, because I think Heath isn't really thinking through the risk-pooling, or lack thereof, happening in a CDO; he actually quotes correct observations on this from Das towards the end, but doesn't take it far enough. If you're risk-averse, then pooling or averaging over multiple (weakly correlated) income streams does add value for you, by reducing variance. But the banks which made the loans already had that low variance! Pooling loans to create securities was something the government-supported entities had been doing for decades, precisely to make the mortgage market. Anyone who wanted that low-variance income stream could buy one of those bonds, or a share in a bank, or open a savings account. In a CDO, the extra low variance of the senior tranches necessarily implied extra high variance for the equity tranches. In Heath's terms, that could only have made sense as trading, not insurance. (Cf. http://bactra.org/reviews/fools-gold/)
have_read  financial_crisis_of_2007--  finance  insurance  heath.joseph 
28 days ago
Heritability: a handy guide to what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and that giant meta-analysis of twin studies | Scientia Salon
"One finding that the authors chose to mention in their abstract is that “across all traits the reported heritability is 49%.” This fact got picked up by many of the aforementioned blogs and media sites (“Nature versus Nurture a draw” is a typical headline; this, for reasons discussed below, is wrong on a number of levels). But the heritability of the least heritable traits measured was only around 5%, and the heritability of the most heritable traits over 80%. What information is gained by averaging the heritabilities of traits as disparate as “adult height,” “structure of the eye-ball,” “cognition,” and “social values”?
"For comparison, imagine a similar meta-analysis of drug effectiveness that reported the average effectiveness of every randomized clinical trial of a drug over the past 50 years. Of what possible use would it be to know the average effectiveness of various drugs, designed to treat different diseases or disorders? All the different trials share is a vague area of interest (“drug effectiveness”) and a basic methodology (“randomized clinical trials”). That isn’t enough to support the coherence of a meta-analysis."
have_read  human_genetics  meta-analysis  heritability 
28 days ago
Lord Dunsany Discovers Lovecraft - Book of Dark Wisdom - Yog-Sothoth
More precisely, Arthur C. Clarke introduces Dunsany to Lovecraft's works...
cthulhiana  clarke.arthur_c.  lovecraft.h.p.  dunsany 
29 days ago
Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives by Joseph Heath - Powell's Books
"Over the last twenty years, the political systems of the western world have become increasingly divided-not between right and left, but between crazy and non-crazy. Whats more, the crazies seem to be gaining the upper hand. Rational thought cannot prevail in the current social and media environment, where elections are won by appealing to voters hearts rather than their minds. The rapid-fire pace of modern politics, the hypnotic repetition of daily news items and even the multitude of visual sources of information all make it difficult for the voice of reason to be heard.
"In Enlightenment 2.0, bestselling author Joseph Heath outlines a program for a second Enlightenment. The answer, he argues, lies in a new “slow politics.” It takes as its point of departure recent psychological and philosophical research, which identifies quite clearly the social and environmental preconditions for the exercise of rational thought. It is impossible to restore sanity merely by being sane and trying to speak in a reasonable tone of voice. The only way to restore sanity is by engaging in collective action against the social conditions that have crowded it out."
to:NB  books:noted  enlightenment  democracy  rationality  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  collective_cognition  collective_action  collective_support_for_individual_choice  our_decrepit_institutions  re:democratic_cognition  political_philosophy  heath.joseph 
29 days ago
[1506.00669] Concentration and regularization of random graphs
"This paper studies how close random graphs are typically to their expectations. We interpret this question through the concentration of the adjacency and Laplacian matrices in the spectral norm. We study inhomogeneous Erd\"os-R\'enyi random graphs on n vertices, where edges form independently and possibly with different probabilities pij. Sparse random graphs whose expected degrees are o(logn) fail to concentrate. The obstruction is caused by vertices with abnormally high and low degrees. We show that concentration can be restored if we regularize the degrees of such vertices, and one can do this is various ways. As an example, let us reweight or remove enough edges to make all degrees bounded above by O(d) where d=maxpnij. Then we show that the resulting adjacency matrix A′ concentrates with the optimal rate: ∥A′−𝔼A∥=O(d‾‾√). Similarly, if we make all degrees bounded below by d by adding weight d/n to all edges, then the resulting Laplacian concentrates with the optimal rate: ∥L(A′)−L(𝔼A′)∥=O(1/d‾‾√). Our approach is based on Grothendieck-Pietsch factorization, using which we construct a new decomposition of random graphs. These results improve and simplify the recent work of L. Levina and the authors. We illustrate the concentration results with an application to the community detection problem in the analysis of networks."
to:NB  to_read  concentration_of_measure  graph_theory  graph_limits  re:smoothing_adjacency_matrices  re:network_differences  via:ded-maxim 
29 days ago
New Economic Thinking, Hicks-Hansen-Wicksell Macro, and Blocking the Back Propagation Induction-Unraveling from the Long Run Omega Point: The Honest Broker for the Week of May 31, 2015 - Washington Center for Equitable Growth
Again, I am puzzled that Brad is puzzled. In the first place, who actually does backwards induction? In the second place, this presumes, what is not in evidence, that the long run will be reached, and will be a quantitatively and qualitatively distinct state from a succession of short runs more or less averaged together. In the third place, even granting those two points (which one shouldn't), the backwards-induction logic would seem to presume that everyone knows when the long run will arrive. If instead no man knows the hour, well...
economics  macroeconomics  delong.brad 
4 weeks ago
AEAweb: JEL (51,1) p. 5 - Structural Models of Nonequilibrium Strategic Thinking: Theory, Evidence, and Applications
"Most applications of game theory assume equilibrium, justified by presuming either that learning will have converged to one, or that equilibrium approximates people's strategic thinking even when a learning justification is implausible. Yet several recent experimental and empirical studies suggest that people's initial responses to games often deviate systematically from equilibrium, and that structural nonequilibrium "level-k" or "cognitive hierarchy" models often out-predict equilibrium. Even when learning is possible and converges to equilibrium, such models allow better predictions of history-dependent limiting outcomes. This paper surveys recent theory and evidence on strategic thinking and illustrates the applications of level-k models in economics. "
in_NB  economics  game_theory  decision-making  non-equilibrium  learning_in_games  via:rvenkat  re:do-institutions-evolve 
4 weeks ago
[1503.00173] Signal Processing on Graphs: Modeling (Causal) Relations in Big Data
"Many big data applications collect a large number of time series, for example, the financial data of companies quoted in a stock exchange, the health care data of all patients that visit the emergency room of a hospital, or the temperature sequences continuously measured by weather stations across the US. A first task in the analytics of these data is to derive a low dimensional representation, a graph or discrete manifold, that describes well the interrelations among the time series and their intrarelations across time. This paper presents a computationally tractable algorithm for estimating this graph structure from the available data. This graph is directed and weighted, possibly representing causation relations, not just correlations as in most existing approaches in the literature. The algorithm is demonstrated on random graph and real network time series datasets, and its performance is compared to that of related methods. The adjacency matrices estimated with the new method are close to the true graph in the simulated data and consistent with prior physical knowledge in the real dataset tested."
to:NB  time_series  causal_inference  causal_discovery  dimension_reduction  statistics  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
5 weeks ago
Welcome to NB
Last tag is tentative but this seems like a very interesting tool.
teaching  social_media  to_teach:undergrad-ADA 
5 weeks ago
Center for Philosophy of Science ::: Effective Theories, Mixed Scale Modeling, and Emergence :::
"Calling for abstracts on multiscale models, effective theories, and emergence with a main focus on relations between theories and models at different scales.
"This will be an open call conference bringing together philosophers interested in modeling, effective theories, emergence and reduction with scientists and applied mathematicians working on analytic and computational multiscale techniques.
"How can data be extracted from observations of systems at a variety of spatial and temporal scales and then be combined to understand phenomena without any attempt to reduce the theories or models appropriate at some scale to those appropriate at another? Many such "mixed-level" explanations are, it seems, essential to successful scientific investigation. Multiscale modeling is playing an increasing role in many areas of science, including climate science, materials science, and developmental biology. This work suggests that interesting methods have by and large been overlooked by philosophers who primarily treat modeling (and intertheory relations) as restricted to two (spatial) scales---the "macroscopic" and the "microscopic." One aim of the conference is to consider the implication of recent work on the nature of multiscale modeling for our understanding of material behaviors, effective theories, and the kind of autonomy that often accompanies claims about emergence."

--- Goldenfeld and Kadanoff as speakers...
conferences  philosophy_of_science  renormalization  macro_from_micro  physics  emergence 
5 weeks ago
Ambiguity and nonidentifiability in the statistical analysis of neural codes
"Many experimental studies of neural coding rely on a statistical interpretation of the theoretical notion of the rate at which a neuron fires spikes. For example, neuroscientists often ask, “Does a population of neurons exhibit more synchronous spiking than one would expect from the covariability of their instantaneous firing rates?” For another example, “How much of a neuron’s observed spiking variability is caused by the variability of its instantaneous firing rate, and how much is caused by spike timing variability?” However, a neuron’s theoretical firing rate is not necessarily well-defined. Consequently, neuroscientific questions involving the theoretical firing rate do not have a meaning in isolation but can only be interpreted in light of additional statistical modeling choices. Ignoring this ambiguity can lead to inconsistent reasoning or wayward conclusions. We illustrate these issues with examples drawn from the neural-coding literature."
in_NB  point_processes  neural_data_analysis  neural_coding_and_decoding  statistics  identifiability  harrison.matthew_t. 
5 weeks ago
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