Posts Tagged Math

Nobel Prize in Computing

Pearl‘s book on “Causality” has been on my shelf for a while now. I also read it, a few times, but never managed to get through it in one go, cover to cover. Consequently, I haven’t come to grips with all details, implications and equations yet. No reason to worry about my intellectual capabilities, it’s quite fundamental and takes time to sink in. Now Judea Pearl has been awarded the 2011 ACM Turing Award – Congratulations!

The annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) A.M. Turing Award, sometimes called the “Nobel Prize in Computing,” recognizes Pearl for his advances in probabilistic and causal reasoning. His work has enabled creation of thinking machines that can cope with uncertainty, making decisions even when answers aren’t black or white. […]
The UCLA computer science professor is widely credited with coining the term “Bayesian Network,” which refers to a statistical model ACM describes as mimicking “the neural activities of the human brain, constantly exchanging messages without benefit of a supervisor.” Bayesian networks have been used to, among other things, analyze biological data for studies of medicine and diseases.

Here is a chance to see him talk for yourself:

“I compute, therefore I understand” – More videos are here on theScienceNetwork.

found via Judea Pearl, a big brain behind artificial intelligence, wins Turing Award. See also on the ACM NEWS “Judea Pearl Wins 2011 ACM Turing Award“.

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HapPi π-day!

March the 14th (3/14) is Pi Day – a holiday commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi).

There are a number of matching accessories for geeks and nerds around, for example on the official Pi-Day page or in this collection on

It’s also happens to be Albert Einstein‘s birthday. Plenty of reasons to celebrate – for example by watching the video below and eating some (round) pies. Have fun!

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Making Data Work

Just a couple of days ago the O’Reilly STRATA Conference took place, the youtube-playlist of the presentations can be found here. Among them is this excellent talk by …

Ben Goldacre, the physician and  biostatistician behind the always-excellent Bad Science column in the Guardian, gave a barnburner of a talk at Strata 2012 yesterday, “The Information Architecture of Medicine is Broken“. For anyone not aware of the problems caused by publication bias in clinical trials (for example, ineffective drugs with a wide variety of side-effects coming to market), his talk is a must-watch.

(Shared by İbrahim Mutlay via LinkedIn, see also this blog-entry on the topic)

The line “Everybody should have a cousin who is a better Python programmer than oneself” made my day. Enjoy!

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Drawing Formulas

One of those nifty little tools that just make life easier: WebEquation by VisionObjects.

Just draw your formula, and it returns the corresponding LaTeX or MathML code. For me, it works great with a cheap graphics tablet, feels a bit more cumbersome (but ok) with the mouse – but still waaay better than messing around trying to convince LaTeX to let that darn’ formula say what you really want it to say. As an example, I just did Euler’s identity in a couple of seconds. For all of us who don’t do this on a daily basis 😉

Found via SchockWellenReiter.


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Ancient computing – the Antikythera Mechanism

When diving deeper into the far end of the historic roots of bioinformatics, I came across the Antikythera mechanism. To me, it has all the hallmarks of what bioinformatics is about: taking in the available knowledge of the time, integrating all the data there is into a functional machine model that actually makes useful and verifiable predictions. And all of that already happened approximately 2100 years ago. Wow!

The timeline for BioInformatics I created however did not seem to accept a corresponding entry, although on dipity dates B.C. should work (since April 2011, they say) – but not for me (yet).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Green Tea, Free Textbooks, Free Thinking

At green tea press, publishers of “How to think like a computer scientist” (available in 3-4 different flavours including Python, Java and C++), “Learning Perl the Hard Way” and “Physical Modeling in MATLAB” a couple of new titles are available. Among them is “Complexity and Computation” by Allen B. Downey, who also wrote “Think Stats” and runs an interesting blog: Probably Overthinking It.

This book is about complexity science, data structures and algorithms, intermediate programming in Python, and the philosophy of science…

Sounds just like some of my favourite topics rolled up into one delicious package! If one insists on the classical DTF (DeadTreeFormat) version: printed hardcopies can be purchased from But the best thing is that all the titles are all available as .PDFs for free, since the textbooks can be downloaded under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

It’s also worthwhile checking out their Textbook Manifesto, concluding with the statement: “There’s just no excuse for bad books.“, and the entry on “Free Books: Why Not?“. Maybe there is a lesson for scientific publishing in general? Enjoy!

(found via SchockWellenReiter)

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Weekend Video

“Volcanoes don’t just happen! They take millions of years to form, probably. … — right … I see what you mean.”

Hilarious!! Wonderful short movie by Aardman Animations, with Bill Bailey doing the voices of the lads:

Warning: contains some math & strong language.

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