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Rankings Versus Ratings

October 22, 2015

Handling both with the amazing generalized Kendall tau distance


Michelle Kwan was one of the last great figure skaters to compete under the historic “6.0” ranking system. She won the world championship five times under that system but was a squeaker second in the 1998 Winter Olympics and a more-distant third in 2002. An injury on the eve of the 2006 Winter Olympics prevented her from competing under the new and current system, which involves a complex numerical rating formula.

Today we discuss rankings versus ratings with an eye to complexity and managing them by common tools.
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Is The Hot Hand Fallacy A Fallacy?

October 12, 2015

A simple idea that everyone missed, and more?

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—A myth of a myth of a myth?

Joshua Miller and Adam Sanjurjo (MS) have made a simple yet striking insight about the so-called hot hand fallacy.

Today Ken and I want to discuss their insight, suggest an alternate fix, and reflect on what it means for research more broadly.
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Ken Hits The Big Time

October 10, 2015

Our own Ken is featured in the Wall Street Journal

Christopher Chabris just wrote a wonderful piece on cheating titled “High-Tech Chess Cheaters Charge Ahead.” Chabris is a research psychologist who is well known for his book The Invisible Gorilla, written with Daniel Simons.

Today I want to point out that the piece is in this Saturday’s review section of the Walll Street Journal.
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Depth of Satisficing

October 6, 2015

When and why do people stop thinking?


Tamal Biswas has been my graduate partner on my research model of decision-making at chess for over four years. He has I believe solved the puzzle of how best to incorporate depth into the model. This connects to ideas of the inherent difficulty of decisions, levels of thinking, and stopping rules by which to convert thought into action.

Today I describe his work on the model and the surprise of being able to distinguish skill solely on cases where people make mistakes. This is shown in two neat animations, one using data from the Stockfish 6 chess program, the other with the Komodo 9 program, whose elements are explained below. Read more…

A Curious Inversion

September 28, 2015

The math of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Mark Haddon wrote the book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which was Unknownpublished in 2003. It is about an autistic 15 year-old boy, who is a math savant, and who solves a mystery, in spite of his limitations in relating to people.

Today I want to comment on a minor historical inversion at the end of both the book and the current play that is based on Haddon’s book.
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Frogs and Lily Pads and Discrepancy

September 24, 2015

A breakthrough result shows the power of “almost”

Cropped from Quanta Magazine source

Terry Tao has done it again. In two beautiful papers with modest titles, he has evidently proved the famous Discrepancy Conjecture (DC) of Paul Erdős. This emerged from discussion of his two earlier posts this month on his blog. They and his 9/18 announcement post re-create much of the content of the papers.

Today we wish to present just the statement of his new result in a vivid manner and some meta-observations on how he arrived at it. Read more…

Taming Some Inequalities

September 19, 2015

As used to solve a classic problem about distinguishing distributions

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Gregory Valiant and Paul Valiant are top researchers who are not unrelated to each other. Families like the Valiants and Blums could be a subject for another post—or how to distinguish from those who are unrelated.

Today Ken and I wish to talk about a wonderful paper of theirs, “An Automatic Inequality Prover and Instance Optimal Identity Testing.”
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