Didier Lockwood (1956-2018)

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2018 by xi'an

bad graphics and poor statistics

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2018 by xi'an

Reading through The Guardian website, I came across this terrible graphic about US airlines 2016 comparison for killing pests pets they carry. Beyond the gross imprecision resulting from resorting to a (gross) dead dog scale to report integers, the impression of Hawaiian Airlines having a beef with pets is just misleading: there were three animal deaths on this company for that year. And nine on United Airlines (including the late giant rabbit). The law of small numbers in action! Computing a basic p-value (!) based on a Poisson approximation (the most pet friendly distribution) does not even exclude Hawaiian Airlines. Without even considering the possibility that, among the half-million plus pets travelling on US airlines in 2016, some would have died anyway but it happened during a flight. (As a comparison, there are “between 114 and 360 medical” in-flight [human] deaths per year. For it’s worth.) The scariest part of The Guardian article [beyond the reliance on terrible graphs!] is the call to end up pets travelling as cargo, meaning they would join their owner in the cabin. As if stag and hen [parties] were not enough of a travelling nuisance..!

Château La Borie [côtes du Rhône]

Posted in Statistics with tags , on February 20, 2018 by xi'an

the first Bayesian

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on February 20, 2018 by xi'an

In the first issue of Statistical Science for this year (2018), Stephen Stiegler pursues the origins of Bayesianism as attributable to Richard Price, main author of Bayes’ Essay. (This incidentally relates to an earlier ‘Og piece on that notion!) Steve points out the considerable inputs of Price on this Essay, even though the mathematical advance is very likely to be entirely Bayes’. It may however well be Price who initiated Bayes’ reflections on the matter, towards producing a counter-argument to Hume’s “On Miracles”.

“Price’s caution in addressing the probabilities of hypotheses suggested by data is rare in early literature.”

A section of the paper is about Price’s approach data-determined hypotheses and to the fact that considering such hypotheses cannot easily fit within a Bayesian framework. As stated by Price, “it would be improbable as infinite to one”. Which is a nice way to address the infinite mass prior.


“À l’université, j’étais le matheux qui savait parler aux statisticiens.”

Posted in Books, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , on February 19, 2018 by xi'an

This weekend edition of Le Monde had [most of] Cédric Villani as its cover story. Mostly about his new career as a representative of Orsay at the French Parliament. And a member of the presidential majority. But the weekend edition being the weekend edition, it cannot escape its glossy tendencies and rather than focussing on the political agenda and achievements of the député, including a radical restructuring of the maths curriculum in French high schools, or maybe even his position on the harsh stance of the Macron government on migrants and refugees, Le Monde spends most of the article on the extra-ordinary personality of Villani.  Paris-Match-like. Which leads to quote as the one below, where I find myself at a loss on how to interpret this “ability to speak to statisticians”…!

Wind of Okhotsk [photograph]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2018 by xi'an

Der Kunst ihre Freiheit [and the scare of the nude]

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2018 by xi'an

A poster campaign advertising for several exhibits of modernist painters in Vienna, including major paintings by Egon Schiele, has met with astonishing censoring from the transport companies posting these advertisements. (And by Facebook, which AIs are visibly too artificial and none too intelligent to [fail to] recognise well-known works of art.) Not very surprising, given the well-known conservatism of advertising units in transportation companies, but nonetheless appalling, especially when putting these posters against the truly indecent ones advertising for, e.g., gas guzzling machines and junk food.