Blog

rss

Posted on Dec 14, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
False alarms are one of the most poorly understood problems in applied statistics and biostatistics.  The fundamental problem is the wide application of a statistical or diagnostic test in search of something that is relatively rare.  Consider the Apple Watch’s new feature that detects atrial fibrillation (afib). Among people with irregular heartbeats, Apple claims a 97% success rate in identifying the condition.  This sounds good, but consider all the people who do not have atrial fibri...
Posted on Dec 13, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
David Kleinbaum developed several courses for Statistics.com, including Survival Analysis, Epidemiologic Statistics, and Designing Valid Statistical Studies.  David retired a little over a year ago from Emory University, where he was a popular and effective teacher with the ability to distill and explain difficult statistical concepts with clarity and concision.  David had a flair for showmanship and humor, and was well known for his collection of loudly colored Hawaiian shirts that he wore wh...
Posted on Dec 10, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
  ActivEpi Web, by David Kleinbaum, is the “text” used in two Statistics.com courses (Epidemiology Statistics and Designing Valid Studies), but it is really a rich multimedia web-based presentation of epidemiological statistics, serving the role of a unique textbook format for an introductory course in the subject.  It is historically noteworthy - it dates back to 2002, the same year Statistics.com was founded, and well before online courses and courseware were common. The term epidemi...
Posted on Dec 07, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
Convinced that he, like his father, would die in his 40’s, Winston Churchill lived his early life in a frenetic hurry.  He had participated in four wars on three continents by his mid-20’s, served in multiple ministerial positions by his 30’s, and published 12 books by his 40’s.  Little did he know that more than a decade of eclipse would ensue, followed by his brightest years in World War II, and survival to age 90. How long someone or something will last is the subject of survival...
Posted on Dec 07, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
This weekend (12/8/2018) marked the 253rd anniversary of the birth of Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. And 20 years ago, Google received its first big infusions of capital from, among others, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.  Both Eli Whitney and the Google founders instigated economic revolutions, but also illustrate polar opposite approaches to open data. Eli Whitney’s invention revolutionized the cotton industry and provided a huge boost to the southern slave economy.  Whitne...
Posted on Dec 07, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
  A classic machine learning task is to predict something's class, usually binary - pictures as dogs or cats, insurance claims as fraud or not, etc. Often the goal is not a final classification, but an estimate of the probability of belonging to a class (propensity), so the cases can be ranked. A good example of a classification problem where the goal is ranking, rather than actual classification, is Google’s algorithm for ranking online ads according to their propensity to attract clicks (t...
Posted on Dec 04, 2018 By: Janet Dobbins
Data science is one of a host of similar terms.  “Artificial intelligence” has been around since the 1960’s and “data mining” for at least a couple of decades.  “Machine learning” came out of the computer science community, and “analytics,” “data analytics,” and “predictive analytics” came out of the statistics and OR communities.  Among all of them, data science may have the greatest staying power. Unlike the others, it has yielded its own job description, data scie...
Posted on Nov 26, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
  Predictim is a service that scans potential babysitters’ social media and other online activity and issues them a score that parents can use to select babysitters.  Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, commented: ”There’s a mad rush to seize the power of AI to make all kinds of decisions without ensuring it’s accountable to human beings… people have drunk the digital Kool-Aid and think this is an appropriate way to govern our lives.”  (Wa...
Posted on Nov 26, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
W. Edwards Deming’s “funnel problem” is one of statistics’ “greatest hits.”  Deming was a noted statistician who took the statistical process control methods of Shewhart and expanded them into a holistic approach to manufacturing quality.  Initially, his ideas were cooly received in the US and he ended up implementing them first in Japan. The success of the Japanese auto industry is due, in part, to its enthusiastic adoption of this “total quality management” (TQM) philosophy. ...
Posted on Nov 23, 2018 By: Peter Bruce
  The auto industry serves as a perfect exemplar of three key eras of statistics and data science in service of industry: Total Quality Management (TQM) First in Japan, and later in the U.S., the auto industry became an enthusiastic adherent to the Total Quality Management philosophy.  Fundamentally, TQM is all about using data to improve processes, and, hence, the outcomes of those processes. Two contributions from statistics lie at its core. Statistical Process Control (SPC), which...
← Older post