Information criteria

Akaike and friends.
With Maximum Likelihood estimation (and many methods that are nearly ML), there is a marvellous shortcut to choose out your model complexity.
I should document them here for my own understanding.

To learn:

See original: The Living Thing / Notebooks Information criteria

Convolution kernels

Approximating functions using convolution kernels.

See also (one of the) other uses of “kernel”: kernel methods.

Implementation notes:

See original: The Living Thing Convolution kernels

George Boole Road?

I had a thought....surely a bad idea to begin with, but regardless....

As we celebrate the year of George Boole and the wonderful, imaginative and informative celebratory events are in full swing, I got to thinking that there is no street named after the man in Cork.

This is George Boole, the noted academic, scientist, mathematician, teacher and father of the information age who spent much of his working life in Cork City and who died and was buried here.

UCC has done phenomenal work keeping his name alive, going back to the building of the Boole Library in 1983. However, at a civic level, his name has been somewhat neglected, not withstanding the plans by Cork City Council and UCC to refurbish his former home at Grenville Place.

So, I'm suggesting that Boole is probably about due a street named after him in Cork. Now, street naming is not a completely uncontroversial topic and there may be people who disagree with me, especially if we go usurping some other street and swapping some other historical figure's name with that of the noted mathematician. To avoid (some) of this controversy, perhaps Western Road in Cork City should be renamed in his honour?

Here we have a road which is geographically appropriate, as it is the formal address of UCC. It also is named for nothing more that the direction of traffic.

It's just a suggestion. Don't bite my head off. But let the debate start here.

Comments welcome.

See original: Communicate Science George Boole Road?

Food for thought


With the world population set to reach 9 billion people by 2050, it’s no surprise that governments and societies are beginning to rethink how they will produce food for all these extra people. 
In Ireland, we’re lucky to have some of the most ideal conditions to produce lots of healthy, nutritious food; with a benevolent climate, committed producers and a world-class ‘food infrastructure’ built up over time. 
In Cork – ‘Ireland’s food capital’. Someone who wanders around the cathedral to food that is the English Market cannot fail to notice the importance of food to this region and the central place it has within our city. With a proposed new food innovation centre on the Grand Parade, it looks like that moniker of Ireland’s food capital is being assured.
Ireland’s exports of food and drink reached nearly €10.5 billion in 2014, with the industry making up about 9% of total employment in the country. The Irish food industry has been one of the success stories of the Irish economy throughout the last number of very difficult years. The challenge, as we seek to grow this sector and produce more food for a growing world population, will be to do so in ways that are sustainable and do as little damage to the environment as possible.
English Market, Cork. (Image: William Murphy, Creative Commons)
There are many ways in which this sustainability can be achieved. For example, both industry and consumers have a real obligation to ensure that food waste is minimised as much as possible. Some estimates put the total percentage of food wasted and lost before it gets in our stomachs at between 30 and 50% globally. That means that up to half the food in our fields never reaches a human mouth and is lost either under attack from pests and diseases in the field or binned by suppliers, supermarkets or consumers for a variety of reasons. 
How we grow food crops is the subject of much debate. And so it should be. Consumers have an obligation to be informed about the way in which their food is produced. Hence the recent debates around issues like pesticide residues, genetically-modified crops, organic production, etc. These are good conversations to be having. If nothing more, a country like Ireland which relies on the food industry for 9% of its total employment must be informed about the best food production and plant protection techniques.
At University College Cork, we have a long history of studying plants and crop production. We are also the second ‘greenest’ university on the planet and the first third-level institution in the world to fly the green flag for environmental policies. So, the production of food crops in an environmentally sustainable way is a central tenet of our teaching and research at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC. 
In 2012 we launched Europe’s only MSc course in organichorticulture to service a growing demand for higher qualifications in the sector. Organic horticulture (and organic production in general) is often defined by what it isn’t rather than what it is. For example, most synthetic chemical fungicides and pesticides are not permitted for use by organically certified growers so they must employ alternative plant protection techniques like biological control. 
From a scientific point of view, that poses some really interesting research questions like how we can increase yields of plants in ways which don’t rely on synthetic chemical inputs. For example, conventional potato growers often apply between 15 and 20 applications of fungicide each season to control late blight of potato (that’s the same disease which caused the Irish famine). That works for now, but there are clear drawbacks to this approach, putting all your eggs (or potatoes) in one basket. Research on ‘organic’ control techniques for late blight means that we might be able to expand our options for controlling this important disease in one of our most important crops. This sort of research can have benefits for both organic and conventional agriculture.
Organic horticulture is not without its challenges. The lack of conventional chemical fertilisers and pest control means organic yields are often lower than that obtained through conventional means. Additionally, and despite a premium paid for organic produce, small organic growers can often find it hard to balance the books. By recognising the main challenges, we can focus our research strengths accordingly so that we improve the lot of organic growers as well as farmers in general. This will ensure that the organic produce that consumers want is on the shelves and, where possible, is produced in Ireland.
At the moment, the organic sector in Ireland accounts for just less than 1.2% of our useable agricultural area (PDF). The retail value of the sector is about €100 million annually. The current government aims to increase this area under organic production considerably. For example, the Food Harvest 2020 plan seeks to have 5% of our useable agricultural area under organic cultivation by 2020. To do this, significant training of new organic growers is required along with upskilling of current growers. Additionally, there is a need for significant research and development in the area of organic crop production in Ireland. The MSc Organic Horticulture programme at UCC has the dual aims of training scientists and producing a body of Irish research on organic crop production techniques.
From looking at alternative methods of controlling slugs with coffee grounds and seaweed, to using computer software to monitor disease outbreaks in potato, to the study of charcoal as a soil additive, we’ve already produced a range of research through this MSc programme. This is the sort of research which is needed to ensure that growers have a variety of tools at their disposal to produce the food we want, when we want it.
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo on April 14th 2015.
Dr Eoin Lettice is a plant scientist and lecturer at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork.

See original: Communicate Science Food for thought

Micro-transitions et écoquartiers : la recomposition des pratiques énergétiques face aux déterminismes matériels et socio-économiques

Dans cet article, nous abordons la transition énergétique à l’échelle des groupes sociaux locaux (individus, ménages…). Notre angle de vue est que le changement dans les comportements s’opère aussi par un ensemble de micro-transitions qui se jouent chez les individus à la fois consommateurs, habitants, usagers du local, membres de groupes sociaux de proximité. L’article s’appuie pour cela sur une investigation fine dans deux écoquartiers en France où sont analysées les consommations et les pratiques énergétiques quelques années avant et après l’aménagement. Deux constats sont vérifiés dans cet échantillon. Les matériels qui réduisent les marges de manoeuvre des habitants pour assurer par leur seul fonctionnement les transformations des empreintes énergétiques ne parviennent à atteindre les objectifs. Les profils types proposés pour expliquer les comportements par les conditions socio-économiques des personnes sont peu opérants. Trois stratégies de changements de pratiques sont en ef...

See original: VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement Micro-transitions et écoquartiers : la recomposition des pratiques énergétiques face aux déterminismes matériels et socio-économiques

FriendFeed was shut down on April 9, 2015. We maintained the service since we joined Facebook in 2009, but the number of people using FriendFeed had been steadily declining and in the end, the community was just a fraction of what it once was. Given this, we decided that it was time to start winding things down.

We want to thank you all for being such a terrific and enthusiastic community. We're proud of what we built so many years ago, and we recognize that it would have never been possible without your support.

- The FriendFeed team

See original: FriendFeed Blog

La transition énergétique : Analyse d’un point de vue psychologique

Le contexte économique, social et climatique devenu défavorable (consommation de masse, mondialisation, diminution de l’habitabilité de la Terre, fréquence et sévérité accrues des catastrophes naturelles) a conduit l’individu du XXIe siècle à traiter la transition énergétique sous l’angle de la perception du risque relatif à la production et à l’utilisation d’énergie. Cette contribution s’attache à examiner, en premier lieu, quelques déterminants de la transition énergétique liés d’une part à l’économie et à la notion de richesse dans les sociétés de consommation, et d’autre part à la perception d’un « changement » climatique. En second lieu, nous présenterons une analyse psychologique de la perception de la transition énergétique en nous référant au paradigme psychométrique, et à l’influence des facteurs qui vont modifier et déterminer la perception du risque, et aux mécanismes cognitifs sous-jacents. Enfin, pour illustrer le propos, l’exemple de l’implantation d’un parc éolien off...

See original: VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement La transition énergétique : Analyse d’un point de vue psychologique

Commun. Essai sur la révolution au XXIe siècle

Suite aux travaux du groupe de réflexion constitué puis co-animé par Pierre Dardot, Christian Laval, Antonio Negri et Carlo Vercellone portant sur le thème « Du public au commun » entre 2010 et 2012, Dardot et Laval publient et prolongent ce travail collectif avec la publication il y a moins d'un an de Commun. Essai sur la révolution au XXIe siècle. Dardot et Laval n'en sont pas à leur première collaboration. En 2010, leur ouvrage La nouvelle raison du monde se fermait déjà sur le mot de « commun ». Deux ans plus tard, ils publiaient Marx, prénom : Karl. Ils y décrivaient la puissance du capitalisme dont la phase néolibérale est devenue telle qu'aucune force ne semble aujourd'hui en mesure de pouvoir la contrarier. Ces dernières années le capitalisme avait eu le monopole de l'initiative en créant les institutions dont il avait besoin et, par la médiation de la social-démocratie, a créé ses propres conditions de survie. Aucune force ne serait plus susceptible de contrarier la logique...

See original: VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement Commun. Essai sur la révolution au XXIe siècle

Ethnomusicology

Anthropology of music. Etc.
Especially pop, and contemporary, as far as I am concerned.

The intersection of music and culture.
The dawning realisation by Europeans that not everyone respects the borders
they draw around tone and rhythm.
And the other dawning realisation that there is money to be made by packaging
the music of other people up a little and selling it to hipsters, and you might even be able to avoid paying royalties.

Also something something intercultural understanding something quote Bob Marley.

genre soup

See original: The Living Thing Ethnomusicology

Julia (the programming language)

Julia:
A jit compiled language that aims for JIT compilation and high performance targeted at scientific computation.

It makes ambitious claims about being the fastest and best thing ever.
The community process is problematic, however, and I prefer the proven method of using tested stuff python and optimizing the performance sensitive code with one of the many tools to do that.

See original: The Living Thing Julia (the programming language)

Pop psychology

On our known-terrible inability to know our terrible inabilities.

See also social cognition.

See original: The Living Thing Pop psychology

La lisière des espaces ouverts : support de densification qualitative des métropoles

Les bords des espaces ouverts ont été reconnus dans plusieurs territoires comme des espaces stratégiques. Ils se trouvent à l’intersection entre les problématiques de développements urbains, de gestion de l’augmentation démographique et les impératifs de valorisation et de protection des espaces de nature. Le concept de lisière urbaine traite les bords en tant qu’éléments complexes, d’épaisseurs variables et porteurs de projets. Si ces espaces sont associés à l’idée d’articulation entre la ville et la nature, ils sont aussi conjointement présentés comme des supports de densification. Or, la mise en avant des bords soulève plusieurs questions. Premièrement, sur la transformation des espaces ouverts induite par une nouvelle pression urbaine. Deuxièmement, sur la requalification de zones jusque-là sous valorisées. Et troisièmement, sur le lieu même d’implantation de la lisière. L’impératif est de traiter avec attention égale tant les éléments bâtis que non bâtis pour qu’ils forment une...

See original: VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement La lisière des espaces ouverts : support de densification qualitative des métropoles

Dimensionality reduction

Turking your ride

Tom Slee/Whimsley does his thing: Some Obvious Things About Internet Reputation Systems

There is, however, one remaining difference between Airbnb and a traditional hospitality business. To go back to the beginning of this essay, sharing economy companies claim that it is both necessary and sufficient to solve problems of trust and coordination to unlock a large new economy of resource sharing. The “sufficient” part of this is valid only if there are no spill-over effects from the operations of the sharing economy, so sharing economies will campaign for freedom from those constraints that prevent them maximizing their returns: health and safety standards, employment standards, licensing laws, and so on.14

To be successful, the venture-capital-funded “sharing economy” will be forced to lose all those aspects of informal sharing that makes “sharing” attractive, and to keep those aspects that erode neighbourhoods, erode employment rights, and remove basic standards. And if they succeed, they will have used the language of sharing to bring about an unregulated, free-market, neoliberal economy.

Internet turking:

An Internet turking company uses the following to expand into traditional industries:

  • Internet economics —-
    from global access to customers and workers via smartphones
    to massive economies of scale that drive costs down.
  • An assembly line managed by a smart phone app. This is new.
    It’s Taylorism reworked for services. Workers micro-managed as if they were
    “bots”. It also sets the stage for rapid “botification” of work.
  • Independent contractors who supply both capital (cars) and labor (driving);
    they take all of the risk.

See original: The Living Thing / Notebooks Turking your ride

Interactive visualisation

The irony of doing a text-based explanation about a movement dedicated to beautiful visual explanations is too much for me to resolve.

Go and read Exporable explanations

For hands-on javascript how-to, see

See original: The Living Thing Interactive visualisation