Cornucopia of mathematics

This image was originally developed as the focal point of the Math Awareness Month poster of April 2000. The theme was “Math Spans All Dimensions”. It was too lovely to be retired, and appeared again at TFBCON2003.

Dimension Cornucopia via TFBCON2003

According to the artist, Brown University professor Thomas Banchoff, it is suffused with joy, just as I had hoped!

It begins with mere points, then a curve that flares into a spiral and eventually a colorful 3-d cornucopia of mathematical plenty:

…suggesting the possibility of further dimensions yet to come.

Professor Banchoff’s art work has even graced some book covers, including this one, written by my favorite statistician.

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 12:33 am  Comments (2)  

Statistics comes to Swarthmore College

Some years ago, I studied mathematics and statistics. At that time, there was only one statistician among the mathematics department members, maybe the entire Swarthmore College faculty, Gudmund R. Iversen. He was my academic adviser. Professor Iversen was grey, tweedy and Norwegian. He always addressed me as Miss Kesselman, which helped alleviate my shyness at the time.

Professor Iversen got his PhD in statistics from Harvard University in 1969. I noticed only one other familiar name on that very short list of all Harvard Statistics PhD alumni: Columbia University political science and statistics professor Andrew Gelman PhD in 1990.

Lunch with Tufte

Professor Iversen had a group of colleagues, all statisticians from other academic institutions. They would visit Swarthmore to give lunchtime talks, or more typically, late Friday afternoon presentations to mathematical statistics students.

Diagram of Napoleon's Russian campaign by Minard

Napoleon’s March to Moscow. Charles J. Minard, 1869

I recall one particular guest statistician. Edward Tufte was on the faculty of Princeton University, and had recently written his first book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. The venue was a small private room in Sharples dining hall. I was one of maybe 20 attending. (more…)

Power law relationship in modern demographics

Cognition seems to be the driver behind a power law relationship, which would be odd indeed. It implies a fixed way of thinking about geography and places that can be modeled statistically. Human thought processes aren’t generally amenable to quantitative models.

Is this something new?

curious relationship


Giving a name to a place is an important act. It says a place has meaning, that it should be remembered. For thousands of years, the way we kept track of place names—or toponyms—was by using our memory. Today, we’re not nearly so limited, and the number of toponyms seems to have exploded. Yet oddly enough, the number of places we name in a given area follows a trend uncannily similar to one seen in hunter-gatherer societies.…

via Per Square Mile
Next steps?

  1. Confirm if Eugene Hunn’s 1994 findings were reproduced with current data
  2. Check whether the USPS zip code information used was correct

Porcine Joy

Spring showers bring pig flowers

Well, maybe not, but I haven’t featured any pigs recently. That could be in violation of the administrivial oink’s website charter.

The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky

Opening measures from the Rite of Spring

The Ides of March are past, and we head into spring. We also approach the one-year anniversary of this blog on March 21 or thereabouts, right in time for the vernal equinox. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my loyal subscribers, all three of you, and my other readers, whether frequent or occasional. Never hesitate to leave comments, especially if it isn’t spam!

Statistics, probability and applied quantitative methods reading recommendations

Finally, I wish acknowledge subject matter experts with nice blogs in my fields of professional interest, including applied probability, (mostly) frequentist methods, and due diligence for purposes of financial and security-focused anomaly detection.

Stats with Cats I don’t like cats, but you can just ignore the photos. This is an accessible, frequently updated blog covering descriptive and inferential statistical methods, mostly explained through charming examples

Data Genetics This blog has excellent graphics (without gratuitous interactive data visualization!) accompanying posts demonstrating statistical, probability and mathematical methods for engineering as applied to a wide range of real world concerns e.g. using Benford’s Law to detect accounting fraud, Hamming Codes for error correction and solving combinatorics problems to demonstrate the poor odds for winning dice and card games.

Error Statistics Philosophy Error statistics quantifies how frequently and reliably different statistical models can be used to detect errors.Error probability statistics uses frequentist error probabilities, not frequentist probability. Frequentist error probability is the relative frequency of errors within a statistical model. Frequentist probability is merely the use of relative frequency of occurrence to infer probability of events. The introductory post, Frequentists in exile acknowledges the long-held perception that only Bayesian methods have respectable statistical foundations. Error Statistics Philosophy focuses on the defensible use of frequentist methods for probability and statistical models, especially in circumstances of limited information and high error avoidance requirements.

Now for a bit of self-promotion…

My Google hobby blog,  In the GooglePlex, is ready to be included on the blogroll here. I was very careful about URL choice. SEO was NOT a consideration! Potential trademark infringement was my concern.

In the GooglePlex is a themed site, unlike this one! Topics are Google-related: product news (both good and bad), trivia, corporate history and humor, whenever there is any to be found. Please feel free to drop by to say hello or ask questions.

Oink of Joy

Any rite of Spring should include an oinker of joy

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 5:45 am  Comments (1)  
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WeatherBill receives $42 mil in Series B funds

Investment in this catastrophic insurance risk startup company now totals $60 million, primarily due to today’s large infusion of cash from Google Ventures. With statistical analysis and distributed computing for better weather forecasting, WeatherBill can offer farmers more competitive insurance rates. WeatherBill is as credible as any other in this field. The company was founded four years ago by two former Google employees, one of whom was Chief Technology Officer at Google.

Image representing WeatherBill

WeatherBill logo

I hope Weatherbill is successful. This story is a welcome change from news about over valued social media companies e.g. TechCrunch’s recent post about J.P. Morgan’s rumored investment of $450 million in Twitter.

Actually, it is a welcome change when a major venture capital investment is made in a business targeting farmers and growers.

Google Ventures, Khosla Make Rain For WeatherBill

WeatherBill Inc. is announcing $42 million in Series B funding from Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures and several previous investors… WeatherBill aggregates large amounts of weather data from the National Weather Service and other sources and applies statistical analyses to run large-scale simulations that assess the probability of weather occurring several years in advance anywhere on the globe.The company’s cost to provide insurance is dramatically lower than competitors, said Khosla Founder Vinod Khosla. “Agriculture is an unusual area for venture capital, but we submit that agricultural technology has the same potential as biotechnology had in pharmaceuticals or chips had in telecommunications,” Khosla said on Monday. Read more at (February 28, 2011, 5:30 PM ET)

What’s in a Blog Post Title? via Liliendahl on Data Quality

This is reblogged from my very favorite site about Data Quality.

What’s in a Blog Post Title? I don’t know about you. But I am a slave to numbers and statistics and can’t help following my WordPress statistics telling me about pageviews – not at least pageviews per post. There are huge differences in the number of visitors who views the different posts. The post with highest number of views on my blog has +2.500 views and the post with the lowest number has only 15 views. To be honest, the ones with over 500 views are mainly visited due to … Read More

via Liliendahl on Data Quality

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 5:58 am  Comments (3)