A statistical review of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman

11 Nov 2013

I failed to find Kahneman’s book in the economics section of the bookshop, so I had to ask where it was.  “Oh, that’s in the psychology section.”  It should have also been in the statistics section.

He states that his collaboration with Amos Tversky started with the question: Are humans good intuitive statisticians?


The wrong brain

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Translating between R and SQL: the basics

08 Nov 2013

An introductory comparison of using the two languages.


R was made especially for data analysis and graphics.  SQL was made especially for databases.  They are allies.

The data structure in R that most closely matches a SQL table is a data frame.  The terms rows and columns are used in both. Read more →

The joy of data analysis

24 Oct 2013

Music and snow.

Poke my eyes out

Perhaps your immediate response is: “I’d rather poke my eyes out with a burning stick than do data analysis.”

There’s a completely different reaction from a lot of people who have experienced data analysis.


It’s not entirely clear why humans like music so much. Part of it may be the guessing game we do.  We perceive a pattern in the music and guess where it will go next.  One of two things happens:

  • we are gratified to be right
  • we are surprised to be wrong

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A first step towards R from spreadsheets

16 Oct 2013

Move your data analysis to a computing environment specifically designed for it.

Why R and not spreadsheets?

Here are three reasons:

  • complexity
  • graphics
  • money

Spreadsheets are easily overwhelmed.  Very complex things can be done in spreadsheets — it is just that complex spreadsheets are inefficient and dangerous.

Graphics should be considered vital when doing anything with data.  R has amazing graphical capabilities. Read more →

An R debugging example

21 May 2013

The steps taken to fix an R problem.


To prepare for the Portfolio Probe blog post called “Implied alpha and minimum variance”, I tried to update a matrix of daily stock prices using a function I had written for the purpose.


When I tried to do what I wanted, I got:

> univclose130518 <- pp.updateclose(jjuc[,1:5])
done with: MMM  ABT  ANF  ACE  ACN  
Error in if (beg > end) stop("Start date must be before end date.") : 
  missing value where TRUE/FALSE needed

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Living it up with computational errors

13 May 2013

How to have a better chance of a good outcome.

Making mistakes

There’s been a lot of talk recently about data analysis problems with spreadsheets.  If you’ve not stuck your head out of your cave lately, then you can catch some of the discussion by doing an internet search for:

Reinhart Rogoff

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The AllTrials campaign

24 Apr 2013

The AllTrials campaign is pushing for all data on drug trials to be made public — see the campaign statement.

If the public has all the evidence rather than a biased selection of evidence, then it will be possible to make better decisions.

There’s been a good start, but more people need to know about it and more people need to push for it.

What you can do

Interview with a forced convert from Matlab to R

17 Apr 2013

Here is an interview with Ron Hochreiter, Assistant Professor at WU Vienna University Economics and Business.


In 25 words or less tell us what you do (using German words is cheating).

I consider myself as a data scientist (teaching and research) with roots in Mathematical Programming, i.e. Optimization under Uncertainty (Stochastic Programming). Read more →

R and social media

10 Apr 2013

R is a piece of software, but it is also a community.

Help community

The most visible aspect of the R community is help.  This is also the most useful to new users.  The initial sense of cooperation with R was driven mainly by people helping each other.

You don’t need to actively participate in order to benefit from the help venues — just watching can be very educational.

If you do ask a question, it is in your best interests to formulate the question well.  There are numerous places that give you hints on how to ask a question well, including Circle 9 of The R Inferno and the R posting guide.  Each venue has a slightly different culture, but the main principles are the same. Read more →

100 savvy sites on statistics

02 Apr 2013

Online Math Degrees has a page of “100 savvy sites on statistics and quantitative analysis”.  It has some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly ever heard of.

The sites are divided into groups.  I think the R section should have included R-bloggers, but what do I know?

I think it’s well worth strolling through.


People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

— from “Celluloid Heroes” by Ray Davies Read more →

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