Posts tagged ‘armchair statistics’

January 31, 2012

Who’s up for open access?

by Lucas Wilkins

Looking through the recent petition/vow making against the commercial nature of academic journals (http://thecostofknowledge.com/) I couldn’t help notice a fairly strong subject area bias. So, I scraped the subject area fields of the website and made this pretty graph:

But what does it mean?

December 23, 2011

Jelly Christmas 1: The N days of Christmas

by Lucas Wilkins

The song, Twelve days of Christmas raises a number of important questions, like who gives milkmaids as presents? and will this song ever end? But most importantly, it makes us ask: If every day was a day of Christmas (like some may wish), would it still be physically possible to sing the song?

Here’s how long it took to sing each verse on the John Peel show one year when the great man was still alive:

April 4, 2011

Don’t try and make things better

by James Thorniley

I think sometimes we’re too obsessed with optimisation. It’s a product of the industrial revolution, or something, everything can go faster, better and cheaper, we assume, except that we all know it can’t. You have to make compromises, obviously. In economics and engineering, the problem is referred to as Pareto optimality. Basically, if you can’t make something better in one respect without making it worse in another, it is Pareto optimal. A “Pareto improvement”, is a change that achieves what you want: making things better without making anything else worse, a change with no compromise. Policy makers know this (it is not an obscure theory) and are supposed to try and achieve Pareto improvements with the changes they make. The thing is, in a complex environment, getting a genuine Pareto improvement is, I suspect, almost certainly impossible.

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