Thursday, November 29, 2012

An interesting book

I found this book to be a very interesting reading. It deals with some important aspects of statistical thinking illustrated through real world examples. Topics touched are the importance of variation (as compared to the average), the difference between causality and correlation, the group difference, the two types of statistical errors (false positives and false negatives) and the probabilistic way of thinking. I would strongly recommend it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Divergent thinking

I found this video on changing the education paradigms extremely interesting, expressing many truths...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Is Algebra Necessary?

I could not keep my self from posting and commenting on this article that I read in NY Times, which expresses the opinion that we should abandon algebra since it is responsible for high school students and freshmen college students dropping out. An immediate question is where did the author find the causal relation between the statistics he gives and the drop out rates? Bypassing this "detail", it is really socking to read all the opinions expressed in the rest of the article. If a person who has acquired the title "Dr" cannot understand the importance of math in the development of critical thought and imagination to a kid, then how should we expect our students to do so? He misses the point again in another place where he asks himself "How many college graduates remember what Fermat’s dilemma was all about?"; math is not about memorizing but it is about being able to think and (re)produce things. And I clearly do not think that math is the only class that helps students. When I was in high school in Greece I had to take nation wide examinations in History, Literature, Biology, Finance, Religion studies and many other "irrelevant" subjects in order to be evaluated if I was appropriate to study engineering! Even though it was an overkill I think it helps dramatically to develop a spherical personality. What do we really want? Do we want to make things easy for students in order to be happy, but also be ignorant and incapable of thinking or do we want them to develop complete personalities? Is it really that math is hard and teachers are not doing a good job or is it that teachers in other subjects simply do not care much and keep their subjects easy? For instance, I have graded many exams in my undergrad class where students are using things such as "u" instead of "you", "r" instead of "are" etc. Closing I want to bring up one of the comments below the article: "My kids are in high school right now, and I am dumb-founded that they are still teaching students the same subjects, in the same manner as was taught when I was in school." Basic knowledge does not change, math identities do not change and so on. What should we do for this? Maybe we should teach more modern subjects such as "How to watch TV". I would like to apologize if anyone feels insulted by my tone in this blogpost; clearly this is not my intention but I simply could not believe what I was reading (and I read this article a couple of times).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How do social networks shape our lives ?

This very nice book from Christakis and Fowler, describes the fascinating story of how social networks facilitate the spread of a variety of events through people. Trends from emotions to physical appearance characteristics can flow through the social ties, whose structure can play an important role. A highly recommended book for those interested in social network analysis and its applications.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Graduate students in IS/TELE. Should we expect an increase or a drop?

According to NSF data, number of graduate students in science and engineering is increasing over the last 10 years. So, what we should be ready for? A drop or an increase in the number of IS/TELE graduate students?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From Euler to Barabasi

This post is a nice brief story of the network science. The major milestones of the theory of networks are underlined and new directions, possible with today's massive available data, are outlined in the TED talk included in this post. Really fascinating...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New form of social interactions

This post from the Facebook Data Team presents and quantifies a new form of ties in online social networks. In traditional social networks ties are either strong (people you constantly communicate with) or extremely weak (people you knew at some point of time but you have no communication with whatsoever). However, online social media allow for passive engagement, where people can passively follow the news of old friends or simply people the used to know or met at some point in time. Tools such as news feed or microblogging (e.g., Twitter) have realized this new form of communication. I found these data extremely interesting.