Archive for trains

Statistics on train delays

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , on February 22, 2011 by xi'an

An interesting item of news on the French public radio: instead of producing rail delays in terms of trains, unions created an alternative indicator per passenger. This sounds fairer, as the impact of delays is felt by every passenger rather than by the train itself! Since most delays occur at rush hour, the consequences are obviously negative for the train companies: only 36% of SNCF passengers arrive on time, while I presume it is much worse for RER passengers.

Of hunter-gatherers and R packagers

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by xi'an

After an exhausting day spent in the train to escort my daughter back from Petite Bretagne, I came home to read about the on-going action of the North Sea fishermen, who blockaded the North Sea ports protesting against the EU fishing quotas.

I usually find the train a great environment to work and this was true on the morning trip where I spent three hours building the R package for our new MCMC book with George Casella. [But on the way back, there were noisy people all over the place and concentrating was a problem…] It took me two days to understand the structure of writing R packages, first by mimicking the LearnBayes package of Jim Albert, then by reading the on-line available documentation. Once I got over the error messages than seemed to imply I did not have the right version of R and once installed the additional codetools package, due to Luke Tierney, I managed to run

R CMD check mcsm

R CMD build mcsm


satisfactorily, including the documentation (the worst part!)… I have done the first four chapters so far and the remaining chapters should follow rather quickly. This is quite comforting because this is the very last step of writing the draft of Enter Monte Carlo Statistical Methods (this is the current title, by the way).

PS-Getting back to those fishermen, I quite understand their plight, i.e. that the current quotas are pushing them out of business, but the answer from the French government, namely to sponsor them for not fishing rather than for changing jobs, is absurd. There is enough evidence to support the thesis of a depletion of the fish population in the North Sea and the Atlantic to understand that the culture of hunting-gathering that still underlies commercial fishing is not sustainable. Some species like the tunas are already close to extinction if nothing short of a ban is enforced. This is obviously tough on tuna hunter-gatherers, but they must be stopped…