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+ - Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Statistician and author Nassim Taleb has a suggestion for scientific researchers: stop trying to use standard deviations in your work. He says it's misunderstood more often than not and also not the best tool for its purpose. 'It is all due to a historical accident: in 1893, the great Karl Pearson introduced the term "standard deviation" for what had been known as "root mean square error." The confusion started then: people thought it meant mean deviation. The idea stuck: every time a newspaper has attempted to clarify the concept of market "volatility", it defined it verbally as mean deviation yet produced the numerical measure of the (higher) standard deviation. But it is not just journalists who fall for the mistake: I recall seeing official documents from the department of commerce and the Federal Reserve partaking of the conflation, even regulators in statements on market volatility. What is worse, Goldstein and I found that a high number of data scientists (many with PhDs) also get confused in real life.'"
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+ - To OLPC or not to OLPC->

Submitted by koubalitis
koubalitis (2529050) writes "A friend of mine, an elementary school principaly in Greece, has asked me to help him evaluate the following situation, An ex student of the elementary school, now in his 70', wants to make a donation in the form of computer laptops. He is willing to buy a laptop for every student in the school, arround 150. He suggested getting OLPCs which cost arround 250-280euros per piece (including shipping and import taxes) but he is open to other alternatives. The principal gave me a sample OLPC XO-4 unit for evaluation. The truth is i wasn't impressed. It doesn't have support for Greek (UI or keyboard layout), the screen is too small, it feels too slow and the whole environment is too restrictive. On the other hand i liked the ruggedized plastics and the battery life. 300euros can get you a descent 11'' dual core netbook with linux preinstalled . So the question is this. Should we go for the OLPC or an alternative netbook/laptop/tablet? Does any slashdoter have experience with OLPCs?"
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+ - "Permissionless Innovation" or Why You Have No Privacy->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Why do apps take our information and sell it without our permission? Why is the Internet of Things a tangle of insecure devices? It all boils down to a theory — "permissionless innovation" whereby businesses and other innovators act first and apologize later. This piece explores what it is and whether, in the context of the Internet of Things, it's a danger."
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+ - Why Birds Fly in a V Formation-> 2

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Anyone watching the autumn sky knows that migrating birds fly in a V formation, but scientists have long debated why. A new study of ibises--where researchers took to microlight planes and recorded birds strapped with GPS in-flight--finds that these big-winged birds carefully position their wingtips and sync their flapping, presumably to catch the preceding bird’s updraft and save energy during flight."
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Comment: Re:Fucking rednecks (Score 3, Informative) 1030

by dlapine (#45495149) Attached to: A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

The thing is, I can put solar on my house, and I will be to able to generate enough power, on occasion, to have some extra to put back on the grid. With the right configuration and local storage, I can even go off the grid. As a consumer, the other options you mention are things I can't do. Sure, solar is more expensive per KWH, but at least it's doable for lots of homeowners.

Separately, you may not have noticed that the Republicans have held effective veto power over new legislation in the Senate until just yesterday. Thus, making the claim the Republicans (even with a minority in the Senate) can be held somewhat responsible for lack of progress in the area seems reasonable.

Comment: High Throughput Computing not HPC (Score 1) 54

by dlapine (#45415825) Attached to: 1.21 PetaFLOPS (RPeak) Supercomputer Created With EC2

While this a nice use of Amazon's EC to build a high throughput system, that doesn't translate as nicely to what most High Performance computing users need- high network bandwidth, low latency between nodes and large, fast shared filesystems on which to store and retrieve the massive amounts of data being used or generated. The cloud created here is only useful to the subset of researchers who don't need those things. I'd have a hard time calling this High Performance Computing.

Look at XSEDE's HPC resources page. While each of those supercomputers has something special about the services they offer (GPU's SSD's, fast access, etc), they all spent a significant portion of their build budget on a high performance network to link the nodes for parallel codes. They also spent money on high performance parallel filesystems instead of more cores. Their users can't get their research done effectively on systems or clouds without those important elements.

I think that it's great that public cloud computing has advanced to the point where useful, large-scale science can be accomplished on it. Please note that it takes a separate company (CycleCloud) to make it possible to use Amazon EC in this way (lowest cost and webapp access) for your average scientist, but it's still an advance.

Disclaimer: I work for XSEDE, so do your own search on HPC to verify what I'm saying.

Comment: Re: 153 GOP voted to default (Score 1) 999

by cadeon (#45155843) Attached to: US Government Shutdown Ends

There is no need for tax. In a system where the government can create money directly, government projects which create "civilization" can be funded by simply creating the extra cash. Doing so devalues the existing cash (because now it's less rare) so this cash creation needs to happen in moderation, but it does work.

And this is how things work now. Tax does not fund the government. If it did, we wouldn't be taking out loans and racking up debt. As this situation proves, tax provides a very small amount of the government funding.

And that's fine. I like the government being able to create money. I like roads and schools and national parks and NASA. In fact, creating money is the perfect tax- the dollar decreases in value and therefore those with a lot of dollars lose more than those with only a few. And there's no administration to be done to facilitate it.

What's not fine is the only mechanism the government has to create money is to borrow it from a bank. People like to rant about which banks it borrows from (the fed, china, wherever) but that's short sighted.

The problem is the fact we end up paying interest on ever dollar the government creates.

And that's what isn't sustainable. Paying tax to pay interest is unacceptable.

The idea behind defaulting is to get away from this ridiculous idea that the government of this nation has to borrow money to create money. Going about it this way would have been horrible, but seriously considering breaking the tie is worth real consideration.

Comment: Tomorrowland Terrrance (Score 1) 273

One of the features I'm most proud of I coded almost entirely at the Tomorrowland Terrance Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (WDW Florida).

Quiet places can be found just about anywhere. All you need is electricity, and for the most part you can bring your own these days (laptop batteries are way better than they used to be).

Comment: Linux ISO's mostly (Score 4, Informative) 302

by dlapine (#43541285) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Move Legal Data With Torrents?

At work I need to install several different types/versions of linux OS's for testing. I always torrent the ISO as a way of "paying" for the image that I'm using.

A few years back, we did some experimenting with torrents over the Teragrid 10GBe backbone, to see how well that worked over the long haul between IL and CA. With just 2 endpoints, even on GBe, it wasn't better than a simple rsync. We did some small scale test with less than 10 cluster nodes on one side, but still not as useful as a Wide Area filesystem we were testing against. Bittorrent protocols just aren't optimized for a few nodes with a fat pipe between them.

I am interested in looking at the new Bitorrent Sync client to see how thanks for our setup. We have many users with 10's of TB's of data to push around on a weekly basis.

Comment: Re:Just how would this work? (Score 1) 257

by dlapine (#41856675) Attached to: Richard Stallman: Limit the Effect of Software Patents

If the purpose of patents is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" then no, I don't see how restricting patents to physical implementations (not software on a general purpose computing device) utterly defeats that purpose. Nothing restricts the author from enforcing his patent on physical reproductions, he just can't claim that a non-physical implementation is a violation.

Can you give any examples where this change would stop or slow scientific progress?

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