The Curse of Dimensionality

There are more than 3 dozen curses in Harry Potter.  Data scientists have only one - the “curse of dimensionality.”  Dimensionality is the number of predictors or input variables in a model, and the “curse” refers to the problems that result from including too many…

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Student Spotlight: Peter Mulready

Peter Mulready is an independent consultant, who worked previously as a system architect at Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. Peter got his degree in biology, but his focus shifted to managing and optimizing the use of data in drug discovery research. …

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Anomaly Detection via Conversation: “How was your vacation?”

A friendly query about your holiday might be a question you get from a roaming agent in the check-in area at the Tel Aviv airport.  Israel, considered to have the most effective airport security in the world, does not rely solely on routine mechanical screening…

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Of Note: e-cigarettes

Last week, the Trump administration announced a forthcoming ban on e-cigarettes, following news stories of a spate of deaths from vaping.  The Wall Street Journal, on Friday the 13th, published both an editorial and an op-ed piece suggesting that any harm from e-cigarettes is minor…

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Book Review: Bandit Algorithms for Website Optimization, by John Myles White

Bandit Algorithms for Website Optimization, by John Myles White A classic statistical experimental design comparing treatments (two treatments, treatment versus control, multiple treatments) specifies a sample size, collection of data, then a decision, typically based on hypothesis-testing:  the winning treatment must attain a level of…

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Of Note: “Islands in Search of Contents”

“Islands in Search of Continents” is the subtitle of an article by Michael Clarke and Iain Chalmers in the Journal of the American Medical Association (1998; 280: 280-282).  It refers to the fact that many studies are conducted and reported in isolation from other studies on the…

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Meta Analysis

1.2 million scientific papers were indexed by PubMed in 2011 (see Are Scientists Doing Too Much Research), ample proof that there are lots of people studying the same or similar things.  For example, there have been Over 100 studies of suicide following psychiatric institutionalization     38 studies…

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Industry Spotlight: Health Analytics

Patient Data Management Health analytics is a hot topic now, but to do the analytics you need data - this is where Electronic Health Records (EHR) come in.  An integrated, standardized system for sharing and accessing health data has been “just around the corner” now…

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Of Note: Superusers

“Superusers” of medical services are the small fraction of patients that account for huge consumption of medical services.  An article published August 14, 2019 in JAMA Surgery (online) reports on the application of machine learning methods to Medicare data on 1,049,160 Medicare patients who underwent surgery,…

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Job Spotlight: Biostatisticans

Biostatisticians are the shepherds (and the police) that guide the science of developing new therapies for disease.  They come in several different flavors: Those involved in gathering information, designing experiments and analyzing data at the drug discovery stage - trying to sort out what works…

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