Friday, December 27, 2013

Teens are leaving the service in droves - and the biggest deterrent is their parents

The Guardian. Maybe not that bad. Tencent in China may have the similar "deterrent", as virtually every urban Chinese is a user. So it is no longer a fad for young people. It becomes a social media for everyone. Teens will become parents, and pretty soon for some. Won't be surprised to see them posting cat pictures and baby smiles like crazy.

We need a Mascots of Bayesian Statistics.

HT Publishable Stuff,   and my vote is

Thursday, December 26, 2013

First 3-D Printed Loudspeaker Hints at Future of Consumer Electronics

Via IEEE Spectrum:
Hod Lipson, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University... described his lab's demonstration as providing a "glimpse of the future" by showing that 3-D printing technology can eventually create all the necessary components of electronic devices.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Use Excel only for data entry; any data manipulation or analysis is done in statistical software

Via Quantum Forest

2013 Renewable Energy Recap: IEEE Spectrum

A Year of Record Setters and Energy Storage Momentum
A report from the International Energy Agency laid out the problem in a nutshell: the overall share of energy attributable to coal, oil, and gas today has not changed one smidge from the late 1980s. Renewables will need to grow at a staggering pace in order to make a significant difference in emissions.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

#NotTheOnion Baby seat with iPad holder!

Baby seat with iPad holder stirs controversy | Reuters

Google aquires Boston Dynamics, for what?

Not sure that Google wants to bring robots closer to everyday life, or has other plans.
Via - IEEE Spectrum
Early this month, news broke that Google had acquired seven robotics startups and that Andy Rubin, the Google engineer who spearheaded the development of Android, is leading this new robots effort at the company. Google was said to be interested in using robots not for consumer applications but rather in logistics, manufacturing, and related activities. Details, however, were scarce, and Google's robotics plan remains a mystery.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Are MOOC’s fundamentally flawed? Or is it a problem with statistical literacy?

I agree with Jeff Leek at simply Statistics:
My take home message is that if this study were submitted to a journal it would be seriously questioned on both scientific and statistical grounds. Before we rush to claim that the whole idea of MOOCs are flawed, I think we should wait for more thorough, larger, and well-designed studies are performed.

Something @EdwardTufte would hate.

Via Andrew Gelman:
A straight line of y = 1-x.
On the vertical axis we have the probability of being Type 2 Diabetic (T2D). On the horizontal axis we have the probability of being normal. There’s a clear, important trend evident, right? No! The probability of being normal is trivially one minus the probability of being T2D! The graph could not possibly be anything other than a straight line of slope -1. (For the students out there: the complete lack of scatter in the graph is a strong hint of something wrong.) What about the colors? They assign the data points for people with a > 50% probability of being T2D to be red, and the opposite to be green. The graph is simply plotting a tautology, that the probability of x is one minus the probability of not-x, together with a color scheme for labeling x. Paraphrasing Tufte, it has an information-to-ink ratio of approximately zero.
Not quite zero: what we seem to have here is a highly inefficient two-dimensional multicolor display of a one-dimensional set of 49 numbers, using dots that are so blurry that we can’t actually get much of a sense of their distribution. All joking aside, I’m guessing this graph would be much better if the x-axis were used for some relevant continuous variable (for example, people’s ages) and the colors used for some discrete variable (for example, some other indicator of health status). 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Silicon Valley Fans of Nikola Tesla Assemble to Unveil A Statue

Via IEEE Spectrum

Not so much information Jobs!

Via Justin Fox at HBR
The job numbers are in the United States. Maybe STEM crisis is a myth after all.  Anyone who has experience going to an IT department or calling the IT help should not be surprised seeing the chart. More likely we have real growing IT/information jobs, just not in America. Same is true with entrepreneurs. When you buy an app from Android or iPad, do you know or care who developed it? A kid in China or India can get all the skills needed from MOOC.

The knowledge gap is real, but the gap is not necessary between nations. The recent PISA score is an indication. While the good education systems, such as those in Massachusetts, could rank high, but as nation the United States is behind, mostly due to the "left behind" kids. The kids in Shanghai and in Massachusetts are probably going to do equally well.

When we think about the STEM education as a public policy, it is not enough to look the chart above and declare that STEM crisis is a myth. We need to think about how globalization and information age together change the economy landscape. The job prospect is not bright for low information workers. And knowledge workers, a term borrowed from Peter Drucker, are competing globally.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Male Brains Are Wired for Focus, Female Brains for Multitasking, or Maybe

Recent Studies Raise the Possibility That Male Brains Are Wired for Focus, Female Brains for Multitasking.
Broadly speaking, women in their 20s had more connections between the two brain hemispheres while men of the same age had more connective fibers within each hemisphere. "Women are mostly better connected left-to-right and right-to-left across the two brain hemispheres," Dr. Verma said. "Men are better connected within each hemisphere and from back-to-front."

That suggests women might be better wired for multitasking and analytical thought, which require coordination of activity in both hemispheres. Men, in turn, may be better wired for more-focused tasks that require attention to one thing a time. But the researchers cautioned such conclusions are speculative.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Economic Time Bomb: U.S. Teens Are Among the Worst at Math - WSJ in 2004

The latest PISA report got a lot of attention today. People in the United States are debating whether it means anything, or why American teens are lagging. So let's turn the clock back, for 9 years.
WSJ published a warning piece on the PISA scores.

It was said that was bad news for long-term economic growths. Those being tested back then are around 26, and they have a high unemployment rate than their parents' generation. The kids being tested today score even lower. I want to read the headlines of WSJ in 10 years.
Economic Time Bomb: U.S. Teens Are Among the Worst at Math
June Kronholz Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Updated Dec. 7, 2004 12:01 a.m. ET

Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. rank near the bottom of industrialized countries in math skills, ahead of only Portugal, Mexico and three other nations, according to a new international comparison that economists say is bad news for long-term economic growth.

Two of the study's most unsettling findings: The percentage of top-achieving math students in the nation is about half that of other industrialized countries, and the gap between scores of whites and minority groups -- who will make up an increasing share of the labor force in coming decades -- is enormous.

The U.S. ranked 24th among 29 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsored the study. Using the OECD's adjusted average score of 500 points, the U.S. scored 483 -- 61 points behind top-scoring Finland and 51 points behind Japan. In a wider group that also included 10 nonmembers, many of them developing nations, the U.S. tied Latvia for 27th place. The bad news is likely to be repeated next week with the expected release of another international math comparison. The U.S. scored near the bottom of that survey, the Trends in International Math and Science Survey, or Timss, when it was conducted four years ago.

The OECD study, called the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, also looked at reading and science skills, where U.S. students scored slightly higher than in math, and at general problem-solving skills, where they scored close to the bottom. In science, U.S. youngsters scored 491 points; in reading, they scored 495 and in problem-solving, they scored 477, all using a 500-point average.

The study devoted most of its analysis, though, to the math test, which asked youngsters to apply what they'd learned in class and which should particularly interest employers. A uniform test was administered last year to students around the world, with OECD monitors ensuring it wasn't selectively given to high performers. The OECD undertook a similar study three years ago concentrating on reading. In both test years, U.S. youngsters scored slightly above the average in reading. In science, U.S. youngsters scored at the average in 2000 but eight points below it last year.

In the test given last year, most of the teenagers were in ninth and 10th grade. Their poor showing is expected to provide fodder for President Bush, who wants to include high schoolers in his No Child Left Behind education program. That idea is likely to face stiff opposition from some members of Congress and many state legislators, who oppose any further expansion of the federal government's role in education.

But the PISA study holds such potentially bad news for the U.S. economy that Mr. Bush might find it provides him with plenty of ammunition. The study suggests that there aren't nearly as many bright kids in U.S. schools as there are in other countries -- which could undermine U.S. dominance in technology-related fields. On average, about 4% of kids who took the test scored at the top of a six-point scale; in the U.S., only 2% scored at the top.

The study also indicated that huge numbers of U.S. students can barely do math, meaning the U.S. lacks the advantage of a generally well-educated population, which also can spur growth. One-quarter of the U.S. 15-year-olds scored at either the bottom rung or, worse, scored so low that they didn't even make that level. White and Asian youngsters in the U.S. scored above the international average, but Hispanics averaged 443 on the exam and blacks scored 417.

Those generally low-scoring groups, because of population trends, are becoming an increasing share of the labor market. "It's their productivity that will determine economic growth and whether my generation gets Social Security," says Harvard University economist Richard Murnane.

Eric Hanushek, a Stanford University economist, estimates that trailing other OECD countries on education measures may reduce U.S. economic growth by as much as a half percentage point a year. That drag will become increasingly apparent, he said, as other countries dismantle regulatory obstacles and alter tax laws that put them at a disadvantage. "It's a big deal, it really is," he said of the OECD math study.

The study comes as math scores on the SAT and ACT college-entrance exams are up slightly, and math scores for fourth- and eighth-graders were up on the federal government's National Assessment of Educational Progress last year. The gains tend to convince policy makers that math education is heading in the right direction. But Tom Loveless, a Brookings Institution education researcher, says U.S. scores are improving because the tests are too easy. In a report last month, he found that eighth-graders aren't tested on fractions and percentages, for example.

And even as entrance-exam scores improve, 17% of students at public four-year colleges currently take remedial math courses before they begin work on their degree. That means colleges are filling in the education holes left by U.S. high schools. "We've made up for weak high schools with better colleges, and we may be able to continue to play that out," says Mr. Murnane. "But maybe not."

Already, U.S. employers rely heavily on foreign applicants to fill high-tech jobs. But immigration restrictions and improving economies at home have recently made the U.S. a less-desirable place for high-skilled foreigners to work.

U.S. education officials offered few explanations for the poor U.S. showing. But Eugene Hickok, the outgoing deputy secretary of education, said poor teacher training may be high among the reasons. And teaching's low status discourages math graduates from going into the field.

PISA results: A view point from Computer Based Math

Agree with Conrad Wolfram that "The skills [real-world maths] requires are ... more conceptual, more intellectual and definitely more creative.
Today's maths PISA results are predictable in the successes that many Asian countries show and the mediocrity of many of the traditional Western countries--like the UK.
I believe PISA is meticulous in conducting its tests and reflects a good evaluation of standards of today's maths education. And yet I think if countries like the UK simply try to climb up today's PISA assessment, they'd be doing the wrong thing.
The playing field of today's maths education is restricted to manual calculating procedures allied to the limited problem-solving that they can support. Today's mainstream real-world maths is much broader: applying the process of maths--using the best computational mechanisation--to much harder problems. The skills it requires are rather different, but if anything more conceptual, more intellectual and definitely more creative.
A Raspberry Pi bundled with Free Mathematica and the new Wolfram language is on my Xmas shopping list.

U.S. 15-Year-Olds Slip in Rankings on International Exams - Slope Chart from WSJ

U.S. 15-Year-Olds Slip in Rankings on International Exams -
Not surprised by what I read, but impressed by the slope chart.

What you need to know to become an angel investor -

What you need to know to become an angel investor -

The odds are stacked against you.

Roughly three-quarters of venture-backed firms in the U.S. don't return investors' capital, according to a study released last year by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.
What's more, you can't minimize your risk by investing in thousands of startups in one shot through a vehicle such as a mutual fund, says Jeff Sohl, director of the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. It's up to you to build a sizable portfolio of your own.