Archive for history

200 years making history

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2020 by xi'an

vacanze romane [jatp]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2019 by xi'an

here’s to you Nicolas and Bart

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2017 by xi'an

“If it had not been for these things, I might have live out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man’s understanding of man as we now do by accident. Our words—our lives—our pains—nothing! The taking of our lives—lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish peddler—all! That last moment belongs to us—that agony is our triumph.” B. Vanzetti

Today is the 90th anniversary of the execution of Nicolas Sacco and Bartholomeo Vanzetti, Italian anarchists executed in Boston by the State of Massachusetts after an unfair trial. Impacted by anti-Italian prejudice and the radical political views of the accused. Here’s to you is the leading song of the soundtrack of the 1971 movie Sacco e Vanzetti, song written by Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez, also a song I remember singing endlessly in summer camps, as a teenager in the 70’s…

ABC at sea and at war

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2017 by xi'an

While preparing crêpes at home yesterday night, I browsed through the  most recent issue of Significance and among many goodies, I spotted an article by McKay and co-authors discussing the simulation of a British vs. German naval battle from the First World War I had never heard of, the Battle of the Dogger Bank. The article was illustrated by a few historical pictures, but I quickly came across a more statistical description of the problem, which was not about creating wargames and alternate realities but rather inferring about the likelihood of the actual income, i.e., whether or not the naval battle outcome [which could be seen as a British victory, ending up with 0 to 1 sunk boat] was either a lucky strike or to be expected. And the method behind solving this question was indeed both Bayesian and ABC-esque! I did not read the longer paper by McKay et al. (hard to do while flipping crêpes!) but the description in Significance was clear enough to understand that the six summary statistics used in this ABC implementation were the number of shots, hits, and lost turrets for both sides. (The answer to the original question is that indeed the British fleet was lucky to keep all its boats afloat. But it is also unlikely another score would have changed the outcome of WWI.) [As I found in this other history paper, ABC seems quite popular in historical inference! And there is another completely unrelated arXived paper with main title The Fog of War…]

poverty of medieval students

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on March 11, 2017 by xi'an

enclosure of the "new" court, St John's College, Cambridge, Jan. 27, 2012While waiting for a new staff card in the Human Resources building at the University of Warwick, I browsed through a THE issue and came upon this rather bizarre article by Jack Grove, reporting on a scholarly paper on the tuition and living fees of medieval students, i.e. around the 14th and 15th centuries in Britain, France, or Italy [which did not exist at the time]. Bizarre in that it seemed obvious to me that education in the Middle Ages was severely restricted to a tiny margin of the society…