Posted on Categories Computer Science, Opinion, RantsTags , 1 Comment on Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Some time ago I subscribed to The Database Column because it would be fun to see what these incredible people wanted to discuss. We owe much of our current database technology to Professor Stonebraker and Vertica sounds like an incredible product. And I definitely want to continue to subscribe.

However, the reading experience is marred by some flaw in their RSS system that keeps marking the article “MapReduce: A major step backwards” as a new article. This causes the article to appear in my RSS reader every few weeks as “new.” This wouldn’t bother me too much except that the article runs so counter to experience that it is itself offensive.
Continue reading Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Posted on Categories Exciting Techniques, Pragmatic Machine Learning, StatisticsTags , 2 Comments on Exciting Technique #1: The “R” language.

Exciting Technique #1: The “R” language.

Our first “exciting technique” article is about a statistical language called “R.”

R is a language for statistical analysis available from http://cran.r-project.org/ . The things you can immediately do with it are incredible. You can import a spreadsheet and immediately spot relationships, trend and anomalies. R gives you instant access to top notch visualization methods and sophisticated statistical methods.

Continue reading Exciting Technique #1: The “R” language.

Posted on Categories Administrativia

New “exciting techniques” series of articles.

I am starting a new “exciting techniques” series of articles on the Win-Vector blog. The primary purpose of the Win-Vector blog remains identifying and describing needs, but I am starting a new sub-series of articles about techniques. Continue reading New “exciting techniques” series of articles.

Posted on Categories AdministrativiaTags , , , ,

The Purpose of this Blog

The purpose of this blog (which is not quite “blog like” in its promise of a once a month longish technical article) is to educate, share the Win-Vector principles and learn more about writing (through practice).

I am a big fan of “understanding through writing” (you learn through trying to explain). The difficulty in technical writing is always balancing the incompatible competing needs for conciseness, clarity, correctness and utility. There is a next-level of writing and understanding (that I am not at, but I am becoming more able to recognize) where these things synergize instead of compete. This post will close with such an example from Edsger Dijkstra (in its entirety):

Elegance is not a dispensable luxury but a factor that decides between success and failure.

This covers so much of what I am trying to say.

(And thank you to Peteris Krumins for blogging on this)

Posted on Categories Opinion, RantsTags 1 Comment on Something I don’t get about business and bailouts

Something I don’t get about business and bailouts

I don’t really know what the right answer to the $700 Billion Dollar Bailout Question is (I have not read the bill, and I wonder if the bill really describes what would happen). But the whole situation does remind me of a related question: is it really the end of the world if the “credit markets freeze?” It is a disaster if the equity markets tank for a period of longer than a year or so (prevents people from retiring and so on)- but I am not sure if all of the consequences we are being told really follow. Continue reading Something I don’t get about business and bailouts

Posted on Categories Applications, Expository Writing, FinanceTags , ,

A Quick Appreciation of the Sharpe Ratio

The current state of the global financial markets has gotten more people than usual worrying about the technical aspects of finance. One method for reasoning about investment returns and risk is a tool called the Sharpe Ratio. It is well worth reviewing this measure and seeing how, if used properly, it doesn’t favor any of the mistakes that underly our current financial crisis. Continue reading A Quick Appreciation of the Sharpe Ratio

Posted on Categories Expository Writing, Mathematics, OpinionTags

What is Mathematics, Really?

I recently had one of those “practitioner’s epiphanies” that I
really feel captures the core of the issue and quickly explains a lot
about mathematics.

My current definition is:

Mathematics is the minimal environment to preserve ideas.

Continue reading What is Mathematics, Really?

Posted on Categories Expository Writing, OpinionTags , ,

YAYGDA (Yet Another Yahoo Google Deal Article)

Information week describes the current “Yahoo/Google deal” as being one that would “allow Yahoo to place Google ads on its site and collect the revenue.” But in reality it is a deal that will allow Google to sell Yahoo the rope to hang itself. To the theorist’s eye the deal looks like a doomsday machine designed along the lines of a simple game called a “stag hunt.” Continue reading YAYGDA (Yet Another Yahoo Google Deal Article)

Posted on Categories Expository WritingTags , , 1 Comment on How Market Designs Set Prices

How Market Designs Set Prices

Hal Varian (Chief Economist, Google) recently shared a concise article with the title “How auctions set ad prices”. The article is a clear exposition of how ad prices determine the sorting order of bidders for online advertising. However, the tone of the article is not quite compatible with how it feels from the outside. Continue reading How Market Designs Set Prices

Posted on Categories Applications, Expository Writing, Finance, Mathematics, Quantitative FinanceTags ,

Betting Best-Of Series

Betting Best of Series is a new expository paper describing the mathematics involved in betting on something like the United States’ Major League Baseball World Series. It isn’t so much about baseball as about demonstrating some of the really great ideas from mathematical finance in a simplified setting. This sort analysis is the “secret sauce” in a lot of financial models and I trying to share the thrilling feeling of working with these techniques in an elementary essay (with diagrams). Continue reading Betting Best-Of Series