Lifelong tenure

Good evening, everyone. Let me add my sincere congratulations to those you’ve already heard tonight. Tenure at a great research university is a milestone in the life of a scholar. I hope you will take some time to reflect and to enjoy. In psychology there is a well-known phenomenon called the Hedonic Treadmill. Individuals who …

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Metadata = MetaGold?

If there is one thing that most libraries, archives, and museums have in bulk, it’s collections metadata. It’s the data that describes content in the collections. This stuff is added, updated, and augmented nearly everyday. Overtime and at sufficient scale it can give insight into the contours of a particular field – author gender distribution, co-citation …

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The Reciprocal Normal Distribution

A recent question on OR-Exchange dealt with the reciprocal normal distribution. Specifically, if k is a constant and X is a Gaussian random variable, the distribution of Y=k/X is reciprocal normal. The poster had questions about approximating the distribution of Y with a Gaussian (normal) distribution. This gave me a reason (excuse?) to tackle something …

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Eichmann revealed

Archival work reveals that Hannah Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem) and many other observers were fooled by Eichmann during his trial. He was more than a cog, not merely banal, and did indeed think about his actions during the Holocaust. Bettina Stangneth’s recent book, Eichmann before Jerusalem is fascinating reading. NYTimes: … The story of the …

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How good is MEGAHIT?

A few weeks back, Nick Loman (via Manoj Samanta) brought MEGAHIT to our attention on Twitter. MEGAHIT promised “an ultra-fast single-node solution for large and complex metagenome assembly” and they provided a preprint and some open source software. This is a topic near and dear to my heart (see Pell et al., 2012 and Howe …

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What makes for a stable marriage?

Perhaps another important — but unsurprising — finding was that couples who attend church regularly have much stabler marriages. In fact, couples who never go to church are 2x more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers. Your attitude toward your partner If your partner’s looks or wealth are an important factor in whether you want …

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Hedgehogs

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Isaiah Berlin popularized this aphorism from Archilochus in his discussion of Tolstoy’s philosophy of history. I’m going to borrow from Berlin, but if you want to follow that tangent, you’ll have to fire up Google, because this is the Thornapple blog, where allusions …

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My Worst Colleague Ever

We’ve all met them — those colleagues who seem to drive us to the workplace “brink”. They have an uncanny ability to push our buttons and leave stress in their wake. They might talk over us at meetings, openly criticize our work or simply suffer from a chronic negative attitude. They have a unique power to deflate …

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Nifty papers I wrote that nobody knows about (Part 4: Complex Langevin equation)

This is the last installment of the “Nifty Papers” series. Here are the links to Part1, Part2, and Part 3. For those outside the computational physics community, the following words don’t mean anything: “The Sign Problem“ For those others that have encountered the problem, these words elicit terror. They stand for sleepless nights. They spell despair. They make grown men …

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Engaging in Educational Policy Issues

Last week, the College of Education launched its new educational policy blog, Green & Write.  The blog, coordinated by faculty member and educational policy expert Rebecca Jacobsen, focuses on four main topics: Teacher quality; Common Core and curriculum standards; Student accountability and assessment; and Governance and finance issues. The purpose of the blog is articulated …

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Big Chickens

More evidence that common genetic variants can produce many standard deviations of change in average phenotype. Also, while wild chickens lay ~1 egg per month, modern agricultural types lay ~1 per day. The study is described in more detail here. Thanks to Carl Shulman for the link. See also Plenty of room at the top and sections 3.1 …

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Nifty papers I wrote that nobody knows about: (Part 3: Non-equilibrium Quantum Statistical Mechanics)

This is the third part of the “Nifty Papers” series. Link to Part 1. Link to Part 2. In 1999, I was in the middle of writing about quantum information theory with my colleague Nicolas Cerf. We had discovered that quantum conditional entropy can be negative, discussed this finding with respect to the problem of quantum measurement, separability, Bell inequalities, as well …

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Multiple Children – Again!

I thought I had exhausted this topic, but no such luck … As noted in a previous post (“When the OctoMom Solves MILPs“), CPLEX (and I believe most other integer programming solvers) are have a design limitation of at most two child nodes per parent node in the search tree. Personally, I don’t consider that limitation a …

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