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Saturday, July 04, 2015

What the Heck are Predictive Models?

Photo: Jeffrey Strickland, Ph.D
"Predictive modeling does not lie solely in the domain of Big Data Analytics or Data Science. I am sure that there are a few “data scientists” who think they invented predictive modeling." according to Jeffrey Strickland, Ph.D., Author of Predictive Analytics Using R and a Senior Analytics Scientist with Clarity Solution Group. 

Photo: icrunchdata News

However, predictive modeling has existed for a while and at least since World War II. In simple terms, a predictive model is a model with some predictive power. I will elaborate on this later.

I have been building predictive models since 1990. Doing the math, 2015 – 1990 = 25 years, I have been engaged in the predictive modeling business longer that data science has been around. My first book on the subject, “Fundamentals of Combat Modeling (2007), predates the “Data Science” of 2009 (see below).

How old is Data Science?
It is really a trick question. The term was first used in 1997 by C. F. Jeff Wu. In his inaugural lecture for the H. C. Carver Chair in Statistics at the University of Michigan, Professor Wu (currently at the Georgia Institute of Technology) calls for statistics to be renamed data science and for Statisticians to be renamed Data Scientists. That idea did not land on solid ground, but the topic reemerged in 2001 when William S. Cleveland published “Data Science: An Action Plan for Expanding the Technical Areas of the Field of Statistics.” But it was really not until 2009 that data science gained any significant following and that is also the year that Troy Sadkowsky created the data scientists group on LinkedIn as a companion to his website, (which later became [1]

What is Predictive Modeling?
It is not a field of statistics! Yes, we do predictive modeling in statistics, but it is really a multidisciplinary field and is based more in mathematics than in other fields. Now, if you consult the most authoritative source of factual information available to the world, Wikipedia, you will find an incorrect view of predictive modeling (of course, I do not believe what I said about Wikipedia). It was formed by people with too much time on their hands and too little exposure to other disciplines, such as physics and mathematics.

Predictive modeling may have begun as early as World War II in the planning of Operation Overlord, the Normandy Invasion, but was certainly used in determining air defenses and bombing raid sizes (it may have appeared as early as 1840 [2]). Now, this is not an article about the history of operations research, so suffice it to say that the modern field of operational research arose during World War II. In the World War II era, operational research was defined as “a scientific method of providing executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions regarding the operations under their control.”[3]

What is a Predictive Model?
The answer is easy: a model with some predictive power. I say that with caution and use the word “some” because more often than not, decision makers think that these model are absolute. Of course, they become very disappointed when the predictions do not occur as predicted. Rather than expand on my simplistic definition, I think some examples may help.
Read more... 

Additional resources

Predictive Analytics using R
This book is about predictive analytics. Yet, each chapter could easily be handled by an entire volume of its own. So one might think of this a survey of predictive modeling. A predictive model is a statistical model or machine learning model...
Publisher: (January 16, 2015). 

Source: icrunchdata News

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UCSI University offers foundation programmes in arts and sciences

"Foundation programmes are pathways for school leavers to qualify themselves to degree programmes." continues The Borneo Post.

UCSI University’s Foundation leads to various degree programmes and gives students wider opportunities.
Photo: The Borneo Post 

Many private higher educational institutions in Malaysia have foundation programmes in science and art based subjects and that includes UCSI University.

The programmes would lead students to over 100 programmes in UCSI University campuses of Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak and Kuala Terengganu.

According to its press statement on Thursday, other than the ordinary business programmes that most Foundation in Arts programmes lead to, students can also choose to continue their studies in Architecture, Actuarial Sciences, Logistics Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Oil and Gas Management, Mass Communication, Psychology, and Language programmes.


Source: The Borneo Post

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Albert clock uses math to tell time

Follow on Twitter as @Emily
If you want to know what time it is, you’ll have to do a little work with this clock. Meet Albert, a wall clock for children that breaks down the current time into math problems. 

The Albert clock is a large clock meant for a wall
Photo: Gizmag

Named after Albert Einstein, the clock makes you solve equations in order to tell the time. 

The Albert Clock - MNTNT - Kickstarter 

Time is broken down with the hour on the top line of the clock and minutes on the bottom. Each line has a relatively simple math problem on it, which you need to solve to know the corresponding digit. For instance, rather than displaying "9" for 9pm, the clock would display "12-3 / 1."

"Had Albert Einstein owned such a clock, he probably would also have become a brilliant mathematician," says Alex Schindlbeck, the product designer. He created the clock while in art school in Germany. Einstein was his inspiration for clock, because he felt the inventor had a "child-like glee" when performing research.

Source: Gizmag and lucymarko Channel (YouTube)

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Is The Declaration of Independence A ‘Scientific Paper’? by Joe Romm

Photo: Joe Romm
Joe Romm, Senior Fellow at American Progress and a Ph.D. in physics from MIT reports, "Most people don't understand just how deeply steeped in science the founding fathers were."

Photo: ThinkProgress

Nearly twelve score years ago, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Interdependence:
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Okay, the Declaration of Interdependence sounds a lot like the Declaration of Independence.

By saying that it is a self-evident truth that all humans are created equal and that our inalienable rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, our Founding Fathers were telling us that we are all in this together, that we are interdependent, that we have a moral duty to protect these inalienable rights for all humans. President Lincoln, perhaps above all others, was instrumental in making clear that the second sentence of the Declaration was “a moral standard to which the United States should strive,” as Wikipedia puts it.

The double appeal to “Nature” — including the explicit appeal to “the laws of Nature” in the first sentence — is particularly salient. For masters of rhetoric like the authors of the Declaration, a repeated word, especially in an opening sentence, is repeated for the singular purpose of drawing attention to it.

Some argue that the phrase “laws of nature” meant something different to Jefferson than it does to us (see here).

Title page of Principia, first edition (1686/1687). 
Photo: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But I don’t think most people understand just how deeply steeped in science — and Sir Isaac Newton’s “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” — the founding fathers were, particularly Jefferson. Because the connection between science and politics is so important today, I’ll do a post discussing this point in detail later.

It’s worth noting now that for nearly two decades — including the entire time Jefferson was Vice President and President of this country — he was also President of The American Philosophical Society, the nation’s oldest scientific society, which was founded by the great American scientist Ben Franklin. “Natural Philosophy” was the phrase used for the natural sciences back then, which is why it’s in the title of Newton’s famed Principia.

In his book, “Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence,” the historian Gary Wills calls the Declaration a “scientific paper,” and explains that “the Declaration’s opening is Newtonian. It lays down the law.” The Principia, of course, famously lays out Newton’s 3 laws of motion, which many at the time called the “laws of nature.”

How familiar was Jefferson with the Principia? Very. Newton’s masterpiece was widely revered among the founding fathers. But Jefferson in particular had studied it closely, and he even wrote a letter identifying what he calculated to be a tiny mathematical error in it.

Source: ThinkProgress

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Free Webinar Thursday July 9 - Using Popular Video Games to Improve Student Executive Functions, SEL Skills

Don't Miss This Free Webinar.

Using Popular Video Games to Improve Student Executive Functions, SEL Skills

Thursday, July 9, 10 a.m. PST, 1 p.m. EST

Video games can be used to improve a variety of cognitive skills such as attention, fluid reasoning and processing speed in students.  Recent studies have also demonstrated that playing games can directly improve executive functioning and social emotional learning skills, keys for problem solving, collaboration and self control.

This session will review the research connecting video game play and improvements seen in skills such as cognitive flexibility, working memory and social awareness.

The presenter will identify dozens of popular games including Minecraft, Portal 2, and Angry Birds where executive and SEL skills are practiced and identify methods for transforming game-based skills into real world competencies. Specific previewing, metacognitive and generalization strategies that optimize skill development from game play will be explored.

This presentation is a preview of the content for the Association’s annual Serious Play Conference, July 21-23, 2015 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Register Now

About Randy Kulman, Ph.D.

Photo: Randy Kulman
Dr. Kulman is a child, clinical psychologist who specializes in assessing children with attentional, learning, and executive functioning issues. Additionally, Dr. Kulman is the author of two books, numerous essays and book chapters on the use of digital technologies for improving executive functioning skills in children.

Webinars feature speakers from the annual Serious Play Conference, this year Tuesday-Thursday, July 21-23, 2015 at Carnegie Mellon University, hosted by the Entertainment Technology Center. 
For more info, check out
Source: Serious Play Conference 

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New Book - Power Up: Making the Shift to 1:1 Teaching and Learning

"The essential guide to going 1:1. 
Power Up is the book your teachers need to understand the changes in pedagogy, planning, classroom organization, time management, and collaboration that will help them be successful with tablets, notebooks, and BYOD. Includes a PD study guide and companion website filled with teaching resources." continues Stenhouse Publishers.

Wherever you are on the path to 1:1 teaching and learning, you need a guide that can help you make the best use of the powerful technology available in today's classrooms. In this inspiring and practical book, Diana Neebe and Jen Roberts draw on research and their extensive experience working with teachers across subject areas and grade levels to share the keys to success when teaching with a computer or tablet for every student.

This is the book secondary teachers need to understand the changes in pedagogy, planning, classroom organization, time management, and collaboration that will help them be successful in a 1:1 environment. Whether providing immediate and detailed feedback to student writers, giving voice to quiet learners, or creating more time for actual work in a jam-packed school day, Neebe and Roberts show teachers how communication, differentiation, and other effective practices can be powered up with personalized technology.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jaime Casap
Chapter 1: We have 1:1; Now What?
Part I: Enrich
Chapter 2: Communication and Workflow
Chapter 3: Engagement
Chapter 4: Collaboration
Part II: Extend
Chapter 5: Audience
Chapter 6: Differentiation
Chapter 7: Feedback and Assessment
Part III: Transform
Chapter 8: Creativity and Innovation
Chapter 9: Rethinking Class Time
Chapter 10: Becoming a Connected Educator

Preview the entire book online PDF

About the Authors 
Diana Neebe (@dneebe) teaches high school English with 1:1 tablets at an independent school in California's Silicon Valley. She was named the ISTE Outstanding Young Educator in 2014 and is a Google Certified Teacher. She is currently working on a doctoral degree in education.

Jen Roberts (@JenRoberts1) teaches English at a large public high school in San Diego, California. She has more than twenty years of classroom experience and has been teaching with 1:1 laptops since 2008. She also teaches preservice teachers and is an active member in the Google Certified Teacher community.

Additional resources 
Download the Study Guide (PDF) 

Visit the website for updated links to resources

Source: EdWeek Update and Stenhouse Publishers

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Concern at low share of foreign students taking PhDs

"Applications from foreign students to US graduate programmes increased 2% to a record 676,484 this year, driven primarily by a 12% upswing in numbers from India but tempered by a 2% drop from China, a preliminary report says." writes University World News.


Half of all international applications were for programmes in the key STEM fields of engineering, mathematics and computer science, all of which enjoyed an increase in applications, says the report, released this week by the non-profit Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, DC.

But nearly two-thirds were for masters and certificate programmes, rather than PhDs, a surprising finding that "raises a lot more questions than we have answers for at this point", says council president Suzanne Ortega.

The survey, conducted annually since 2004 to give US graduate schools an early peek at autumn enrolment indicators, this year marked the 10th consecutive year of overall increases in applications – a sign, Ortega says, that the United States continues "to be the place that students see as having high quality and high value".

The survey this year for the first time tracks applications based on the level of the degree being pursued, a factor that provides insights into how students expect to pay for their degrees, what kinds of jobs their degrees will prepare them for and whether they intend to stay in the United States after earning their degree. 

Vulnerable to volatility  
Masters level students, for example, typically use personal funds to finance their education, which provides a lucrative revenue stream for US universities but also makes the applicant pool more vulnerable to economic volatility in their home countries.

Doctoral students are more likely to rely on universities and grants for funding, and also are more likely to go on to careers that fuel US innovation and economic growth.

Source: University World News

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World’s top 10 universities led by women

Follow on Twitter as @elliebothwell
Ellie Bothwell,  International and rankings reporter at Times Higher Education summarizes, "World University Rankings analysis reveals the best female-led institutions."

Photo: Times Higher Education

Just 14 per cent of the top 200 universities in the world are led by women.

It is a damning statistic and one that proves – if you needed any more evidence alongside the oft-reported gender pay gap and the dearth of women in senior positions – that gender inequality is still rife in the academy.

However, there are examples of top universities that are leading the way when it comes to promoting women to the upper echelons of their institution.

Ten universities which feature in the top 60 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are led by women – and three of these female leaders are the third woman to head up their institution.

Last month the University of Oxford also announced that it will have a female vice-chancellor for the first time in its 767-year history.

This list is based on research conducted by Miguel Antonio Lim, EU Marie Curie doctoral fellow at Aarhus University in Copenhagen, who used data from the 2014-15 World University Rankings.

Additional resources 
The World’s Best Universities: Times Higher Education 2014-2015 results

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world-class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.


Source: Times Higher Education and Times Higher Education Channel (YouTube)

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Old school or new? Math teachers debate best methods as Canadian scores fall

"Canadian kids are falling behind their peers in other countries, and there’s no clear solution." according to The Globe and Mail.

Math teacher Paul Alves holds a visual learning aid as he sits below a traditional math equation on a classroom's chalk board at Fletcher's Meadow Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.

"Don’t get math teachers started on best teaching practices."

The discussions are emotional, heated and they don’t agree on much – except that Canadian kids are falling behind their peers in other countries, and there’s no clear solution.

There are generally two camps: those in favour of the old-school method to lecture kids with a “drill-and-kill” format that preaches practice, and another, ever-growing group that believes a more creative approach is needed to engage students.

At a recent event in Toronto, dozens of teachers waited in line to take selfies with math-teaching celebrity Dan Meyer, delaying his keynote talk at the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education conference. He is part of the new-school camp.

His approach is simple, Meyer says on the phone from California, where he’s a math education researcher at Stanford University.

He presents a problem at the start of class, and lets the students try to figure it out. Hopefully, he says, the students will struggle.

“That initial moment of struggle prepares them for what they’ll learn later,” he says.

Meyer cites several studies that back up his ideas, including one from Manu Kapur, a professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Kapur’s study shows students who are given a problem to solve on their own – before instruction from a teacher – outperform students who are given the traditional lecturing style.

The technique is in the early stages of implementation across Ontario, according to Sheena Agius, a math coach who helps teachers with the new method in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

Just like all other boards in Ontario, it is moving away from rote learning to try to get students to understand math at a deeper, more conceptual level.

“Just because we’re doing it, doesn’t mean we’re doing it well yet,” she says. “But it’s a learning process for teachers and that will come.”

Meyer has many acolytes, such as Paul Alves, president of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education and a high school math teacher at Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School in Brampton, Ont., northwest of Toronto.

“Teachers are really engaged by the way (Meyer) teaches math because when they try it they see the same thing – the excitement students have to do the math – and it changes the classroom. It invigorates it and energizes it, which wasn’t the case before,” Alves says.

That engagement is priceless, Alves says.

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Visual analytics: Can machine learning ‘see’?

Photo: Gadi Lenz
Here's the piece Gadi Lenz, Chief Scientist at AGT International contributed to IDG Connect. "The human brain remains the best video analyser – but computers are starting to catch up." 

Photo: IDG Connect

Here is an interesting observation: Ask a child to describe what she sees around her and she will immediately tell you something like “I see a tall man talking to a woman in the driveway in front of a yellow house”.

The same task is beyond current computer technology – specifically, feeding a “raw” video clip to a machine and getting back (reasonably quickly) a short textual description of what happens in the clip, is currently pretty much impossible. Images and video are rich sources of information consisting of many different objects (with different shapes and colours) with some relationship to each other, in some environment, possibly moving (in the case of video), etc. – there is a reason that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Analysing images and video to facilitate automatic insights and associated decisions is still incredibly difficult (even offline; doing it in real time is much harder). A further complication is the fact that most of the visual content we view is actually a 2D projection of the real (3D) world. Remarkably, humans are really good at these types of tasks, so one approach could be “Hey, let’s just copy the human visual system (HVS)” – if only it was that simple.

So, what can we do in the area of video analytics or video content analysis? Actually, quite a bit, though not quite as much as you may have seen in some popular movies. Here are some examples:
  • Driven by security and surveillance use cases, many “suspicious” behaviours can be recognised automatically (i.e., with no human in the loop) such as an object that has been left behind, someone crossing a virtual line, people counting, loitering and many others. Similarly, in the vehicular traffic area, behaviours such as stopped vehicle, or someone driving on the hard shoulder, can be identified.
  • Some very specific objects can be recognised – faces, vehicles, license plates and probably a few more. Although some only under limited conditions – controlled lighting, controlled pose, minimal occlusions, etc.
  • Tracking of specific objects in the camera’s field of view (tracking across multiple cameras, even when there is overlap in successive cameras, is very difficult)
If your interest is in some specific items on this limited list – no problem, you can buy them from numerous vendors. However, if you are looking for a different behaviour or a different object, you will need some computer vision people to develop a new analytic service. That generic object recogniser or the generic “tell me if anything unusual happens in this area” does not exist yet.

But don’t despair – machine learning approaches are starting to appear in some commercial products. Basically, the machine is trained, for example, on video that represents normal vehicular traffic flow and once the learning phase is over, the machine can indicate that something abnormal has happened such as traffic slowdown due to some sort of incident further down the road. By “machine”, by the way, we mean the computer that ingests the video stream and runs the anomaly detection algorithm, which could, in principle, run in the camera itself or very near to it.

Source: IDG Connect

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