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Error Statistics Philosophy

A SPANOSby Aris Spanos

Few statisticians will dispute that R. A. Fisher (February 17, 1890 – July 29, 1962) is the father of modern statistics; see Savage (1976), Rao (1992). Inspired by William Gosset’s (1908) paper on the Student’s t finite sampling distribution, he recast statistics into the modern model-based induction in a series of papers in the early 1920s. He put forward a theory of optimal estimation based on the method of maximum likelihood that has changed only marginally over the last century. His significance testing, spearheaded by the p-value, provided the basis for the Neyman-Pearson theory of optimal testing in the early 1930s. According to Hald (1998)

“Fisher was a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science, without detailed study of his predecessors. When young he was ignorant not only of the Continental contributions but even of contemporary publications in English.” (p. 738)

What is…

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Tripling a Triangle

Seen at Tanya Khovanova’s Math Blog

Note:  The triangular numbers are given explicitly by the formula T_n = {n+1 \choose 2}


The book about flies in the news

Amazon’s $23,698,655.93 book about flies is on BBC news today:

“Million-dollar book

Algorithms may be cleverer than humans but they don’t necessarily have our sense of perspective – a failing that became evident when Amazon’s price-setting code went to war with itself earlier this year.

“The Making of a Fly” – a book about the molecular biology of a fly from egg to fully-fledged insect – may have been a riveting read but it almost certainly didn’t deserve a price tag of $23.6m (£14.3m).

It hit that figure briefly on the site after the algorithms used by Amazon to set and update prices started outbidding each other.

It is a small taste of the chaos that can be caused when code gets smart enough to operate without human intervention, thinks Mr Slavin.

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The March of Progress

1980: C
printf("%10.2f", x);
1988: C++
cout << setw(10) << setprecision(2) << showpoint << x;
1996: Java
java.text.NumberFormat formatter = java.text.NumberFormat.getNumberInstance();
String s = formatter.format(x);
for (int i = s.length(); i < 10; i++) System.out.print(' ');
2004: Java
System.out.printf("%10.2f", x);
2008: Scala and Groovy
printf("%10.2f", x)


“Note the lack of semi-colon. Improvement!”



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