Real Data Science pt1: Review of Numbersense

So far, when I’ve written on Data Science topics I’ve written about the fun part: the statistical analysis, graphs, conclusions, insights, etc. For this next series of postings, I’m going to concentrate more on what we can call Real Data Science®: the less glamorous side of the job, where you have to beat your data and software into submission, where you don’t have access to the tools or data you need, and so on. In other words, where you spend the vast majority of your time as a Data Scientist.

I’ll start the series with a review of Kaiser Fung’s Numbersense, published in 2013. It’s not mainly about Real Data Science, but I’ll start with it because it’s a great book that illustrate several common data pitfalls, and in the epilogue Kaiser shares one of his own Real Data Science stories and I found myself nodding my head and saying, “Yup, that’s how I spent several days in the last couple of weeks!”

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Book recommendation: Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling

Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling, Todd D. Little, Guilford Press 2013.

Let me start by saying that this is one of the best textbooks I’ve ever read. It was written as if the author was our mentor, and I really get the feeling that he’s sharing his wisdom with us rather than trying to be pedagogically correct. The book is full of insights on how he thinks about building and applying SEMs, and the lessons he’s learned the hard way.

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Children’s science fiction and fantasy: it’s not just for children anymore!

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My wife and I have started listening to books on audio during car trips or in the evening, and we’ve discovered that there are some absolute gems in the children’s literature section of the library. Yep, kid’s stories aren’t just for kids anymore. (And I wish I’d had stories like this when I was growing up!) In particular, we’ve been listening to audio CD’s and several of them have superb a voice acting that really enhances the story. These stories show incredible imagination, and in this posting I’d like to highly recommend two series: The Larklight Trilogy and the Bartimaeus Sequence, especially the audio CD’s.

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Excellent article on Percolation Thresholds, using R

Percolation is the ability of a liquid-like substance to get through a solid-like lattice. An interesting question is how the likelihood of a material allowing percolation changes as the average density of the lattice changes from 100% (i.e. solid with no percolation) to 0% (i.e. nothing with total percolation). Read an interesting article that looks at the case of square lattices using R: Percolation Threshold on a Square Lattice