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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Best of for AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning – February 2019 | insideBIGDATA

In this recurring monthly feature, we filter recent research papers appearing on the preprint server for compelling subjects relating to AI, machine learning and deep learning – from disciplines including statistics, mathematics and computer science – and provide you with a useful “best of” list for the past month.

Researchers from all over the world contribute to this repository as a prelude to the peer review process for publication in traditional journals. arXiv contains a veritable treasure trove of learning methods you may use one day in the solution of data science problems. We hope to save you some time by picking out articles that represent the most promise for the typical data scientist. The articles listed below represent a fraction of all articles appearing on the preprint server. They are listed in no particular order with a link to each paper along with a brief overview. Especially relevant articles are marked with a “thumbs up” icon. Consider that these are academic research papers, typically geared toward graduate students, post docs, and seasoned professionals. They generally contain a high degree of mathematics so be prepared. 

Enjoy the Reading!  

Source: insideBIGDATA    

Enter Bunkitsu, more like a gallery than a bookstore | Books - The Japan Times

With its pay-to-enter system, eclectic lineup of books and artsy vibe, Bunkitsu shakes up the typical bookstore business model, as The Japan Times reports.
Calculated disorder: Bunkitsu’s shelves are curated by section into broad themes like ‘Travel’ or ‘History.’
Walk into this new Tokyo bookstore and at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into an art gallery. With its elegant glass doors, spacious entryway, books displayed like exhibits on tables and captioned information on the walls, Bunkitsu is clearly no ordinary bookstore.

“That’s what we want people to think — that it’s an art gallery where they can encounter books,” says Hikaru Yoshino, the shop’s 27-year-old public relations officer.

Bunkitsu opened in December 2018 in Tokyo’s fashionable Roppongi district. The bookstore is unusual in that patrons can browse the 90 or so magazines in the reception area for free, but must pay ¥1,500 (about $14) to peruse its 30,000 or so titles on the second floor, where there is also a cafe.

Customers are able to relax in the airy upstairs reading areas and get free refills of tea or coffee provided by the cafe. As the cafe also serves lunch, book hounds can spend all day there if they wish to, without having to go in search of food...

The shelves are curated by section into broad themes like “Travel” or “History” but the books seem tangentially linked.

Lined up next to a history book on Lenin is a series of comic books set during the Russian Revolution. Books are piled haphazardly on tables: a comic book on top of a philosophy book on top of a novel, but they are all linked somehow — the color black, movies, food. Here, calculated disorder creates happenstance.

“We recognize that if you have a particular book in mind, it is difficult to find it quickly here. But finding a new book is a once in a lifetime encounter. We want that surprise to bring customers back again and again,” says Yoshino.

Source: The Japan Times 

Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard by Clare Carlisle – review | Books - The Guardian

The philosopher was shaped by his fear of ridicule and scorn for Christian Copenhagen, as this compelling biography reveals, says Adam Phillips, The Guardian.

A drawing of Søren Kierkegaard around 1845, by Peter Klaestrup. 
Photo: Granger/Rex/Shutterstock
When Søren Kierkegaard wrote: “It is quite true what philosophy says, that life must be understood backward. But then one forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forward”, he was creating an interesting problem for his biographers. Our past may be the only thing about us that we can possibly understand, but the biographer, unlike her subject, knows at virtually every moment of her biography what happened next. For Clare Carlisle, in other words, it can look as though the life she is recounting has a coherence – that there was one thing after another for good reasons – that a life mostly doesn’t have when you live it.

This simple fact goes to the heart of Kierkegaard’s often recondite and obscure philosophy, as Carlisle shows in this lucid and riveting new biography, which at once rescues Kierkegaard from the scholars and makes it abundantly clear why he is such an intriguing and useful figure: that we want, above all, to be reassured about our lives rather than find out what about our lives matters to us.

Carlisle writes her biography partly in the present tense, as though Kierkegaard’s life is unfolding as it happens, which gives us an uncanny sense of the spectacular complexity of a life that Kierkegaard was at such pains to reveal...

Kierkegaard was the youngest of seven children and between the ages of 19 and 27 he lost his university mentor, his father and three of his siblings. At 24, in the middle, not incidentally, of these catastrophes, he fell in love with the now infamous Regine Olsen, proposing three years later, and two years after that breaking off the engagement to devote his life to God and writing. And to spending the rest of his life tormented by his decision and obsessed by her memory. He wore the engagement ring he had given her for the rest of his life, a life that can be read as a series of failed love affairs – not least with himself – and of the kinds of success that can come of such failures.

Source: The Guardian

Book Review, 'Guestbook,' By Leanne Shapton | Book Reviews - NPR

Leanne Shapton, author, artist and publisher based in New York City, is an artist of the mundane. Her books mix writing, prose collage, photography and watercolor to imbue familiar objects and dull routines with mystery and emotional weight.

Ghost Stories
by Leanne Shapton
 Hardcover, 293 pages

In her 2012 memoir Swimming Studies, Shapton transformed pools and swimsuits into representations of her past selves. In 2014's Women in Clothes, she and co-editors Heidi Julavits and Sheila Heti turned hundreds of interviews and images into a monumental reflection on self-presentation. Her latest project, Guestbook, borrows techniques from both. This time, however, her subject is ghosts.
Guestbook is not exactly a book of ghost stories, though its subtitle disagrees. It behaves more like a short story collection than any other literary form, but reading it feels akin to walking through an art exhibit, each piece linked in ways that are ineffable but clear. And many of Guestbook's sections are art. Shapton includes many of her own watercolors and uses photographs as both art and documentation...

"Eqalussuaq" is Shapton at her finest, as is Guestbook as a whole. Without fail, it's unexpected, subtle and moving. Shapton excels at evoking emotion through absence, which is, perhaps, a skill borrowed from more traditional ghost stories. Guestbook never sets out to frighten, though. Some of Shapton's ghosts might be malevolent — the haunted tennis player in "Billy Byron," for example, might have been better off without his supernatural coach — but there are no jump scares here.  

Source: NPR

The 10 books to read in April | Books - The Washington Post

Check out these books to read by Bethanne Patrick, editor, most recently of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”

Photo: courtesy of toonsteb at
Whether you have eclectic tastes or are in search of something specific — a mystery, a juicy novel, a big fat tome — next month’s must-read list has something for you. Everyone wins in April. No fooling.

Source: The Washington Post

10 New Books We Recommend This Week | Book Review - New York Times

Follow on Twitter as @GregoryCowles
Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times by Gregory Cowles, Senior Editor, Books. 

There’s a saying in journalism (and in other endeavors, with minor variations) that twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend. If that’s true, we have a bunch of coincidences for you this week. There are two Supreme Court biographies: Evan Thomas’s “First,” about Sandra Day O’Connor, and Joan Biskupic’s “The Chief,” about John Roberts. There are two spy books: the novel “American Spy” and the political history “Spies of No Country.” Two memoirs, by Carolyn Forché and Mitchell S. Jackson. And weirdly — which is to say, coincidentally — two books with the word “betrayal” in the subtitle. The lesson here may only be that eclecticism likes company. And that sounds like a trend.

Source: New York Times

The Books Briefing: As the Good Book Says | Books Briefing - The Atlantic

Each week in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas, and ask you for recommendations of what our list left out.

Your weekly guide to the best in books by Rosa Inocencio Smith, assistant editor at The Atlantic. 

Photo: New York Public Library
Faith, for many people, is a deeply personal thing: a set of spiritual beliefs that are inseparable from one’s identity. At the same time, especially in the context of organized religion, faith is defined by social customs—and this combination of private passion and public practice can sometimes be fraught. In one recent book, Jemar Tisby confronts racial divisions within his own evangelical Christian community. The artist Sandow Birk addresses anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States by framing passages of the Koran in visual symbols that are more widely familiar to Americans. And a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer reckons with the political and familial weight of a Jewish identity. 

Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory was heavily criticized by some Catholic officials when it was published in 1940—yet its flawed protagonist gives a realistic portrait of faith and its challenges. And for Min Jin Lee, the author of Pachinko, the ethical questions raised in the Biblical story of Joseph provide inspiration for the moral physics governing her fiction.

What We’re Reading: 

Source: The Atlantic

The Week in Books | Editors’ Picks - The New York Times

Salman Rushdie on a “dazzling” debut novel, Bret Easton Ellis, the birth of American Modernism and more.

Center image: Illustration of Richard Powers by Jillian Tamaki
We take the weekend to highlight recent books coverage from The Times:

Source: The New York Times

FLC Lifelong Learning topic: ‘The Quantum Mechanics of Music’ | Arts & Entertainment - Pagosa Springs Sun

“The Quantum Mechanics of Music” will be the Lifelong Learning topic of Fort Lewis College (FLC) Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michael Grubb on April 4 in Room 130, Noble Hall, FLC, continues Pagosa Springs Sun.

Photo: Screenshot YouTube
Grubb will address the strange and unique microscopic world of quantum mechanics in layman’s terms. He will illuminate how the physics of waves connects to the world of musical instruments.

Grubb teaches thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and quantum mechanics — and organizes FLC’s annual Science Open House for area students and their families.

Source: Pagosa Springs Sun

Meet the English Professor Creating The Billion-Dollar College Of The Future | Education - Forbes

Susan Adams, senior editor in charge of Forbes’ education coverage says, The tall, silver-bearded president of Southern New Hampshire University is beaming as he takes a brisk walk through the halls of the Mill, the private not-for-profit school’s vast nerve center. There are no students here.

The Mill, in a converted textile factory on the Merrimack River, is SNHU's nerve center, where 1,700 staffers serve the school's exploding online enrollment of 135,000 students.
Photo: Franco Vogt for Forbes

Instead, the converted textile factory on the banks of the Merrimack River in Manchester, New Hampshire, is packed with row after row of gray cubicles staffed by 1,700 employees servicing the exploding online enrollment—some 135,000 and counting—at SNHU, as the school is known. “We have set out to be the Nordstrom’s of higher education,” says Paul LeBlanc, 61. “We want to have the best-in-class customer support.”

A former English professor from a working-class immigrant family, LeBlanc has taken his passion for technology and, cherry-picking what many of the much-maligned for-profit colleges did right, revitalized a dying institution. Like the for-profit schools, SNHU attracts students with a nationwide advertising campaign that eats up as much as 20% of its operating budget. And as the for-profits have done, SNHU targets a nontraditional demographic, the 37% of American college students over age 24, many of whom have jobs and families. They can’t afford and don’t want a residential campus experience. His teaching staff: an army of 6,000 adjuncts who earn as little as $2,200 per course.

With an open enrollment policy whose only requirement is a high school degree or a GED, SNHU’s priority is supporting its growing student body. “It’s a word we can’t use in nonprofit higher ed—that students can be students but they can also be customers,” says LeBlanc. When prospective applicants place a call or send an email inquiry through SNHU’s site, one of its 300 admissions counselors responds in less than five minutes. At traditional schools it’s standard practice to require applicants to track down their own transcripts. SNHU takes care of that chore within two days, at no charge.
By the numbers, the strategy is an overwhelming success. Though the sticker price for an online student to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree with no transfer credits is just $40,000 and SNHU hasn’t raised tuition since 2011, margins in the online division are a fat 24%...

More broadly, critics like Johann Neem, a history professor at Western Washington University and the author of the forthcoming book What’s the Point of College: Seeking Purpose in an Age of Reform, says a CBE degree is the equivalent of a “second tier” credential that deprives first generation and low-income students of the kind of in-depth intellectual exploration of multiple subjects, from philosophy to art history, that a college education should provide. “Southern New Hampshire’s College for America is deeply insulting to adult students,” he says. “CBE takes one aspect of what we do as professors, which is assessment, and ignores all the other important things we do,” he says. “It’s reductive.”

Source: Forbes

Oxford vs. Cambridge: England's rival college towns | Toronto Sun

Cambridge and Oxford have been in a centuries-long competition as England’s top two universities – but I’ve always felt that seeing one is enough. The big question is: Which one? reports Rick Steves, Special to Postmedia.

For years, I’ve had it lodged in my mind that Cambridge was much better to visit than Oxford. But on a recent visit, I changed my view. Though it’s a close call, I’d give an edge to bustling Oxford – the more substantial town with plenty to see and do. Cambridge is a close second, with lovely gardens along the River Cam and a simpler, charming atmosphere.
Both towns are only an hour’s train ride away from London, with Oxford to the west and Cambridge to the north, making each a fun and doable day-trip. Cambridge, with fewer accommodations, works better as a side-trip from London than as a stopover. Oxford can keep you busy sightseeing for a longer time and has plenty of good hotels – so it’s worth a longer stay...

Founded in the 11th century, the University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and is known for its academic achievements and stellar alumni. Its many graduates have influenced the course of Western civilization in the realms of science, literature, politics, philosophy, and beyond (among its amazing alumni are Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking, and Oscar Wilde)...

The younger of the two, historic Cambridge is the quintessential university town. Just like Oxford it’s full of bookstores, grand residence halls, and studious types biking to and from class. Originally founded in 1209 by some rebellious Oxford students, Cambridge now hosts 12,000 undergrads across 31 colleges, all with the same layout: Green, monastic-type courtyards surrounded by chapels, libraries and housing.

Source: Toronto Sun

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Language Of Calculus | Math - Science Friday

Photo: Steven Strogatz
Mathematician Steven Strogatz, math professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, argues that “humans have used calculus to remake the world.”

The following is an excerpt of Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe by Steven Strogatz.

Infinite Powers:
How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, computers, or microwave ovens. We wouldn’t have radio. Or television. Or ultrasound for expectant mothers, or GPS for lost travelers. We wouldn’t have split the atom, unraveled the human genome, or put astronauts on the moon. We might not even have the Declaration of Independence.

It’s a curiosity of history that the world was changed forever by an arcane branch of mathematics. How could it be that a theory originally about shapes ultimately reshaped civilization?

The essence of the answer lies in a quip that the physicist Richard Feynman made to the novelist Herman Wouk when they were discussing the Manhattan Project. Wouk was doing research for a big novel he hoped to write about World War II, and he went to Caltech to interview physicists who had worked on the bomb, one of whom was Feynman. After the interview, as they were parting, Feynman asked Wouk if he knew calculus. No, Wouk admitted, he didn’t. “You had better learn it,” said Feynman. “It’s the language God talks.”

For reasons nobody understands, the universe is deeply mathematical. Maybe God made it that way. Or maybe it’s the only way a universe with us in it could be, because nonmathematical universes can’t harbor life intelligent enough to ask the question. In any case, it’s a mysterious and marvelous fact that our universe obeys laws of nature that always turn out to be expressible in the language of calculus as sentences called differential equations...

The World According To Calculus 
As should be obvious by now, I’ll be giving an applied mathematician’s take on the story and significance of calculus. A historian of mathematics would tell it differently. So would a pure mathematician. What fascinates me as an applied mathematician is the push and pull between the real world around us and the ideal world in our heads. Phenomena out there guide the mathematical questions we ask; conversely, the math we imagine sometimes foreshadows what actually happens out there in reality. When it does, the effect is uncanny.

To be an applied mathematician is to be outward-looking and intellectually promiscuous. To those in my field, math is not a pristine, hermetically sealed world of theorems and proofs echoing back on themselves. We embrace all kinds of subjects: philosophy, politics, science, history, medicine, all of it. That’s the story I want to tell—the world according to calculus.

This is a much broader view of calculus than usual. It encompasses the many cousins and spinoffs of calculus, both within mathematics and in the adjacent disciplines.
Read more... 

Recommending Listen
Calculus underpins many of the greatest ideas about how the universe works: Newton’s Laws, Maxwell’s Equations, quantum theory. It’s been used to develop ubiquitous technologies, like GPS. It was even used to model the battle between HIV and the human immune system, which helped researchers fine tune triple-drug therapies to combat the virus.

Source: Science Friday

Strength in Numbers: An In-Depth Look at Actuarial Science for Math Enthusiasts | Books - Amazon

Have you heard of actuarial science but have no idea what is it all about. Do you want a career that is closely related to your passion for numbers? 

Strength in Numbers:
An In-Depth Look at
Actuarial Science for Math Enthusiasts

Strength in Numbers by Chloe Hung, actuarial science and finance graduate from the USA, brings you on a journey of discovery into the mysterious world of actuarial science.

Source: Amazon

Interesting Facts About Number Theory | Science - Interesting Engineering

Marcia Wendorf, former high school math teacher, technical writer, author, and programmer summarizes, Among his many other accomplishments, Carl Friedrich Gauss contributed greatly to the important branch of mathematics called number theory.

Photo: Pixabay

Number theory is a branch of mathematics devoted to the study of integers, the so-called counting numbers. Number theory got its start with the ancient Babylonians.

A Babylonian tablet dating to 1,800 BC contains a list of Pythagorean triples. As anyone who has ever solved for the sides of a right triangle knows, these are numbers where a2 + b2 = c2, an example being, 32 + 42 = 52

The ancient Greeks noticed a great many things about integers, for example, multiply an odd number by an even number, and the answer is always even. Then, things went dark for number theory, quite literally, as in "the dark ages."

It wasn't until French mathematician Pierre de Fermat (1607 - 1665) that number theory got a boost. Maddeningly, Fermat never published his work, and everything we know about it comes from his correspondence with other mathematicians, and in the notes he scribbled in book margins...

Contributions to Astronomy and Statistics
In 1800, the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi had discovered the dwarf planet Ceres, but it soon vanished behind the Sun before sufficient observations had been taken to calculate its orbit, and where it would reappear. Many astronomers submitted their ideas of where Ceres would reappear, but one idea differed dramatically from the rest – Gauss's.

When Ceres reappeared on December 7, 1801, it was almost exactly where Gauss had predicted it would be. To find Ceres, Gauss had invented the method of least squares. This method finds the line of best fit for a set of data, where each point of data is representative of the relationship between a known independent variable and an unknown dependent variable. Today, the method of least squares is used extensively in the financial industry.

Source: Interesting Engineering

Friday, March 29, 2019

Why Talk About Women In Math? | Science - Forbes

How can we fix the leaky pipeline that results in the field of mathematics being dominated by men? insist Rachel Crowell, writes about mathematics.
Are women flowing out of the mathematics pipeline like the flowing colors in this image? Or are they being pushed out by things outside of themselves?
Photo: Getty
How are women in math treated in their workplace environments? What barriers exist that make it difficult for mathematicians who are also parents -- especially mothers -- to advance their careers in academia or industry while also raising families? As we wrap up the last few days of the 2019 Women's History Month, some folks might wonder: Why are there still so many conversations focused on women in mathematics?

The conversations are happening because there is still much work to be done to make mathematics a field that wholeheartedly welcomes women and awards them for their contributions. According to a report from from the National Science Foundation, less than 30% of all U.S. doctoral degrees in mathematics and statistics are awarded to women. From 2006 to 2016, the percentage of mathematics and statistics doctorates obtained by women actually fell from 29.6% to 28.5%. (2016 is the most recent year for which those statistics are available.).

A common approach to try to increase the number of women in math is to focus on creating or enhancing programs that get girls excited about math. But should the focus here lie solely on the girls, who are the potential women mathematicians of tomorrow?...

Did you know that 2019 was the first year in which the Abel Prize was awarded to a woman? Earlier this month, Karen Uhlenbeck was named as the winner of the 2019 Abel Prize, a top prize in mathematics.

There's even an initiative to make May 12 a day for celebrating women in mathematics. Maryam Mirzakhani, who was the first (and, to date, the only) women mathematician to win the prestigious Fields Medal, was born on May 12, 1977.

Yet there is still so much work to be done.

Equality for women in mathematics isn't a topic or priority to confine to Women's History Month. 

Source: Forbes 

800 scientists say it’s time to abandon “statistical significance” | Science & Health -

P-values and “statistical significance” are widely misunderstood. Here’s what they actually mean, explains Brian Resnick, science reporter at

There’s a strong case that chasing p-values has led science astray. 
Photo: erhui1979/Getty Creative Images
For too long, many scientists’ careers have been built around the pursuit of a single statistic: p<.05.

In many scientific disciplines, that’s the threshold beyond which study results can be declared “statistically significant,” which is often interpreted to mean that it’s unlikely the results were a fluke, a result of random chance.

Though this isn’t what it actually means in practice. “Statistical significance” is too often misunderstood — and misused. That’s why a trio of scientists writing in Nature this week are calling “for the entire concept of statistical significance to be abandoned.”

Their biggest argument: “Statistically significant” or “not statistically significant” is too often easily misinterpreted to mean either “the study worked” or “the study did not work.” A “true” effect can sometimes yield a p-value of greater than .05. And we know from recent years that science is rife with false-positive studies that achieved values of less than .05 (read my explainer on the replication crisis in social science for more)...

Even the simplest definitions of p-values tend to get complicated, so bear with me as I break it down.

When researchers calculate a p-value, they’re putting to the test what’s known as the null hypothesis. First thing to know: This is not a test of the question the experimenter most desperately wants to answer.

Let’s say the experimenter really wants to know if eating one bar of chocolate a day leads to weight loss. To test that, they assign 50 participants to eat one bar of chocolate a day. Another 50 are commanded to abstain from the delicious stuff. Both groups are weighed before the experiment and then after, and their average weight change is compared.

The null hypothesis is the devil’s advocate argument. It states there is no difference in the weight loss of the chocolate eaters versus the chocolate abstainers. 


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Get a lifetime membership to these e-learning libraries for super cheap | Mashable Deals - Mashable

Learn from experts without ever leaving your house, recommends

Get your study on.
Photo: Pexels 
Back in the olden days — and by olden days, we mean 20 years ago — you'd have to make a trip to the library and flip open a huge encyclopedia to research a topic. And if you really wanted to take a deep dive on something, you'd have to enroll in classes and show up on time to get your money's worth.

But now, learning is far more accessible, thanks to the wonder that is the internet. If you're looking to pick up a skill or two, below are discounted subscriptions to e-learning libraries you can use to learn anything to your heart's content. The best part? You don't even have to leave the house.

Source: Mashable

Online Education - The Forgotten Frontier in Student Affairs | Student Affairs and Technology - Inside Higher Ed

Are SA pros supporting not just campus-based students, but the ever-rising tides of online learners?, writes Eric Stoller, higher education thought-leader, consultant, writer, and speaker.
Photo: Eric Stoller
"Many people in higher education still treat online education as if it's a new phenomenon, even though some colleges and universities have been doing it for decades."

When I read the first sentence in a recent Inside Higher Ed article onIncreasing Understanding of Online Learning my first thought was literally “Are we still dealing with this?”.

How, after years and years of online learning programs/degrees and millions of online learners (e.g. there are 30,000 online students just at ASU!) are we still having this conversation about online education? It's not a new phenomenon. It's not an emerging trend. It's not the future. It's just tiring how online learning continues to be framed as a fringe activity...

Maybe it's time for a Learning Reconsidered 3.0...taking the role of the student affairs professional into the digital learning sphere in an even more intentional and transformational way? (Learning Reconsidered [PDF] was a landmark document that “argues for the integration of all higher education's resources in the education and preparation of the whole student.”)

According to ACPA's website, there are more than 100 student affairs graduate programs. Do any of them have a focus on supporting the online learner that is as in depth as the plethora of material that's focused on the on-campus student? In some ways, the student affairs profession has blatantly chosen to ignore online learners. Most SAHE masters programs are nearly 100% focused on campus-based learners. From a social justice perspective, this runs completely counter to the ethos that runs throughout the fabric of such a student-focused profession.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Getting past the 'false dichotomy' in online learning | Online Learning - Education Dive

Marni Baker Stein, chief academic officer at Western Governors University, discusses a 'tension' she sees between traditional and new models of postsecondary education.

Photo: janeb13 via Pixabay
News earlier this year that Western Governors University would not have to pay back $713 million in Title IV funds was seen as a vote of confidence for alternative instructional models in higher education...

As they do so, viewing the future of postsecondary education as one-size-fits-all can be limiting, said Western Governors Provost and Chief Academic Officer Marni Baker Stein, whose work in higher ed has spanned campus-based and online programs and institutions.

"There's so much of this black-and-white false dichotomy going on that makes it hard to have a conversation about what's really the best way for students," she said.

Source: Education Dive

The joy of stats | Books and Arts -

Evelyn Lamb, Freelance math and science writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah enjoys a rich study on number-crunching and its ubiquitous fruit.

Tracking data can be baffling without a thorough knowledge of statistical approaches.
Photo: solarseven/Getty

The aphorism “All models are wrong, but some are useful”, attributed to statistician George Box, is a cliché for a reason. It cuts to the heart of a central challenge facing researchers in many areas of science. The world is more complicated than anything that a mathematical, scientific or statistical model can capture. Yet models of the world, however imperfect, are necessary for drawing conclusions about everything from pharmaceutical efficacy to unemployment numbers. David Spiegelhalter’s The Art of Statistics shines a light on how we can use the ever-growing deluge of data to improve our understanding of the world — and of some of the pitfalls we encounter in the attempt.

The book is part of a trend in statistics education towards emphasizing conceptual understanding rather than computational fluency. Statistics software can now perform a battery of tests and crunch any measure from large data sets in the blink of an eye. Thus, being able to compute the standard deviation of a sample the long way is seen as less essential than understanding how to design and interpret scientific studies with a rigorous eye.

Throughout the book, Spiegelhalter emphasizes the importance of the “PPDAC” structure: Problem-Plan-Data-Analysis-Conclusion. He describes how statisticians approach each section of an investigation, and the tools that come into play...

Spiegelhalter does not shy away from discussions of subtle statistical issues such as the nature of different types of uncertainty. So, as he warns at the beginning of chapter 9, where the rubber of mathematical probability theory hits the road of statistical inference, some material will prove challenging even to scientifically sophisticated readers. Some passages require pencil, paper and a few passes through to fully digest, but the approachable big-picture explanations and end-of-chapter summaries help, as does the glossary...

The Art of Statistics will serve students well. And it will be a boon for journalists eager to use statistics responsibly — along with anyone who wants to approach research and its reportage with healthy scepticism.
Read more... 

Recommended Reading
The Art of Statistics:
Learning from Data (Pelican Books)


Statisticians Embracing Uncertainty and Paradigm Shift | Politics - Fair Observer

Banishing the notion of things that are “statistically significant” means that uncertainty is destined to become a more significant part of our lives, explains Peter Isackson, author, media producer and chief visionary officer of Fair Observer Training Academy.

Photo: © Andis Rea
Though in a very deep sense we are a civilization governed by statistics, most people show little interest in a mathematical discipline that many consider to be a dry, inhuman science. Statistics, as a professional activity, has made its way into the core of our scientific, economic, political and even philosophical culture. In the world of serious decision making — whether in the corporate world, sciences or political marketing — ideas and initiatives not supported by statistics tend to be dismissed in favor of those that are, even if no one (including statisticians) really understands how statistics can be expected to produce meaning.

The American Statistical Association (ASA) has come forward with an act of public humility that few people among the public will pay attention to. It has now admitted that over-reliance on statistics may be dangerous for our health. In an interview with the title, “Time to say goodbye to ‘statistically significant’ and embrace uncertainty, say statisticians,” we learn, for example, that “relying on statistical significance alone often results in weak science” and that, contrary to the illusion many have maintained about statistical evidence, “pure objectivity can never be achieved.”

In a world that is preparing to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into every level of institutional decision-making, this could indicate a methodological breakthrough with far-reaching effects. AI both uses and produces statistics to make the decisions we so willingly accept to delegate to it. By acknowledging that uncertainty is more certain than supposed statistical truth, we may begin to situate our own decision-making responsibilities, based on factors other than numbers alone.

Here is today’s 3D definition:
Statistically significant:
Indicating that a certain representation of quantitative data may serve to justify ideas or initiatives that we fail to understand or, in some cases, refuse to understand...  

But the issue strikes even deeper into our civilizational values as statistician Nicole Lazar, the interviewee of the article, acknowledges this fact containing vast cultural significance: “Categorization and categorical thinking are the fundamental problems, not the p-value in and of itself.” When we apply mathematical reasoning to human problems, our dependence on both language and the pragmatics of human activity force us to call things and ideas by names we invent and to relate them to each other by grouping them in categories, or what psychologists call cognitive boundaries.” This has never been truer than in the digital civilization that we now depend on. 
Read more...  

Source: Fair Observer 

Imperial launches one of world's first online Masters in Machine Learning | Imperial College London

Murray MacKay, Communications Manager (Education) notes, Launching in autumn 2020/21, the degree will be one of the first online courses that focuses on Machine Learning and its applications.

Photo: Imperial College London
The degree, developed in partnership with the online education platform Coursera, will teach students in the computational, mathematical and statistical foundations of Machine Learning.

Students will also have the opportunity to work with industry-standard tools like PySpark and PyTorch to develop and apply their Machine Learning and data science skills. Over the coming year a number of specialisation courses will be released which will give students the opportunity to explore these areas.

What is Machine Learning? 
Machine learning is the scientific study of algorithms that computer systems use to perform specific tasks without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead. It is seen as being closely related to Artificial Intelligence and has a number of applications in products and services used in daily life. 

Professor Niall Adams, one of the course leaders for the new degree, said: "The degree integrates training in ethics and the limitations of Machine Learning in order to equip the data scientists and Machine Learning specialists we train with the skills to ethically apply these techniques to their future work...

Delivering digital
The degrees Imperial is offering on Coursera provide students with flexible learning options. The MSc in Machine Learning is module-based, allowing learners to start by studying individual courses that can count toward their degree upon acceptance to the full program.  
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Additional resources 
 Data visualisation showing EU entrepreneurship hotspots
Photo: Imperial College London.
Denmark offers best conditions for digital start-ups, says Imperial report by Laura Singleton, Communications and Public Affairs. 
"Digital entrepreneurs in Europe are most likely to flourish in Denmark, according to an entrepreneurial index from Imperial College Business School."

Source: Imperial College London

Killer robots already exist, and they've been here a very long time | Robotics - Phys.Org

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 
Read the original article.The Conversation

Humans will always make the final decision on whether armed robots can shoot, according to a statement by the US Department of Defense, says Mike Ryder,  Associate Lecturer, Lancaster University
Photo: Mykola Holyutyak/Shutterstock

Their clarification comes amid fears about a new advanced targeting system, known as ATLAS, that will use artificial intelligence in combat vehicles to target and execute threats. While the public may feel uneasy about so-called "killer robots", the concept is nothing new – machine-gun wielding "SWORDS" robots were deployed in Iraq as early as 2007. 

Our relationship with goes back even further than that. This is because when people say "robot," they can mean any technology with some form of "autonomous" element that allows it to perform a task without the need for direct .
These technologies have existed for a very long time. During World War II, the proximity fuse was developed to explode artillery shells at a predetermined distance from their target...

The birth of cybernetics
My research explores the philosophy of human-machine relations, with a particular focus on military ethics, and the way we distinguish between humans and machines. During World War II, mathematician Norbert Wiener laid the groundwork of cybernetics – the study of the interface between humans, animals and machines – in his work on the control of anti-aircraft fire. By studying the deviations between an aircraft's predicted motion, and its actual motion, Wiener and his colleague Julian Bigelow came up with the concept of the "feedback loop," where deviations could be fed back into the system in order to correct further predictions.
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Source: Phys.Org