“ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World” (very impressive historically-accurate in-browser simulation of the logistics of the ancient Roman Empire. My only regret is that I can’t think of any situation in which I actually need an exact calculation of how much it would have cost to get from Londinium to Rome during winter while avoiding the Atlantic. But some of the graphs showing cost-distances between Rome and the provinces are pretty interesting, as are some of the disparities)
“Online Controlled Experiments at Large Scale”, Kohavi et al 2013 (“One interesting tidbit is that Bing found that every 100ms faster they deliver search result pages to searchers yields 0.6% more in revenue (which is a similar result to an old Amazon test).”)
“How Not to Be Misled by the Jobs Report” (Depicts the sampling error associated with each estimate by providing an animation showing repeated draws assuming the point-estimate is the ground truth. Good for showing you how easily ‘patterns’ show up with a few data points.)
2001 in anime reviewed (an excellent year for anime, as it gave us: Animation Runner Kuromi, Cat Soup, Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, FLCL, Fruits Basket, Haré+Guu, Metropolis, Millennium Actress, Princess Arete, Read or Die OVA, & Spirited Away.)
This page is a changelog for Gwern.net: a monthly reverse chronological list of recent major writings/changes/additions.
Following my writing can be a little difficult because it is often so incremental. So every month, in addition to my regular /r/Gwern subreddit submissions, I write up reasonably-interesting changes and send it out to the mailing list in addition to a compilation of links & reviews (archives).
A subreddit for posting links of interest and also for announcing updates to gwern.net (which can be used as a RSS feed). Submissions are categorized similar to the monthly newsletter and typically will be collated there.
It is widely understood that statistical correlation between two variables ≠ causation. Despite this admonition, people are overconfident in claiming correlations to support favored causal interpretations and are surprised by the results of randomized experiments, suggesting that they are biased & systematically underestimate the prevalence of confounds / common-causation. I speculate that in realistic causal networks or DAGs, the number of possible correlations grows faster than the number of possible causal relationships. So confounds really are that common, and since people do not think in realistic DAGs but toy models, the imbalance also explains overconfidence.
Variance components estimates of political and social attitudes suggest a substantial level of genetic influence, but the results have been challenged because they rely on data from twins only. In this analysis, we include responses from parents and nontwin full siblings of twins, account for measurement error by using a panel design, and estimate genetic and environmental variance by maximum-likelihood structural equation modeling. By doing so, we address the central concerns of critics, including that the twin-only design offers no verification of either the equal environments or random mating assumptions. Moving beyond the twin-only design leads to the conclusion that for most political and social attitudes, genetic influences account for an even greater proportion of individual differences than reported by studies using more limited data and more elementary estimation techniques. These findings make it increasingly difficult to deny that—however indirectly—genetics plays a role in the formation of political and social attitudes.
Genome-wide association study results have yielded evidence for the association of common genetic variants with crude measures of completed educational attainment in adults. Whilst informative, these results do not inform as to the mechanism of these effects or their presence at earlier ages and where educational performance is more routinely and more precisely assessed. Single nucleotide polymorphisms exhibiting genome-wide significant associations with adult educational attainment were combined to derive an unweighted allele score in 5,979 and 6,145 young participants from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children with key stage 3 national curriculum test results (SATS results) available at age 13 to 14 years in English and mathematics respectively. Standardised (z-scored) results for English and mathematics showed an expected relationship with sex, with girls exhibiting an advantage over boys in English (0.433 SD (95%CI 0.395, 0.470), p <10−10) with more similar results (though in the opposite direction) in mathematics (0.042 SD (95%CI 0.004, 0.080), p = 0.030). Each additional adult educational attainment increasing allele was associated with 0.041 SD (95%CI 0.020, 0.063), p = 1.79×10−04 and 0.028 SD (95%CI 0.007, 0.050), p = 0.01 increases in standardised SATS score for English and mathematics respectively. Educational attainment is a complex multifactorial behavioural trait which has not had heritable contributions to it fully characterised. We were able to apply the results from a large study of adult educational attainment to a study of child exam performance marking events in the process of learning rather than realised adult end product. Our results support evidence for common, small genetic contributions to educational attainment, but also emphasise the likely lifecourse nature of this genetic effect. Results here also, by an alternative route, suggest that existing methods for child examination are able to recognise early life variation likely to be related to ultimate educational attainment.
Previous research has revealed a moderate and positive correlation between procrastination and impulsivity. However, little is known about why these two constructs are related. In the present study, we used behavior-genetics methodology to test three predictions derived from an evolutionary account that postulates that procrastination arose as a by-product of impulsivity: (a) Procrastination is heritable, (b) the two traits share considerable genetic variation, and (c) goal-management ability is an important component of this shared variation. These predictions were confirmed. First, both procrastination and impulsivity were moderately heritable (46% and 49%, respectively). Second, although the two traits were separable at the phenotypic level (r = 0.65), they were not separable at the genetic level (r genetic = 1.0). Finally, variation in goal-management ability accounted for much of this shared genetic variation. These results suggest that procrastination and impulsivity are linked primarily through genetic influences on the ability to use high-priority goals to effectively regulate actions.
"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France. The song was written in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg after the declaration of war by France against Austria, and was originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin".
Revolutions are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and social development is followed by a short period of sharp reversal. People then subjectively fear that ground gained with great effort will be quite lost; their mood becomes revolutionary. The evidence from Dorr's Rebellion, the Russian Revolution, and the Egyptian Revolution supports this notion; tentatively, so do data on other civil disturbances. Various statistics—as on rural uprisings, industrial strikes, unemployment, and cost of living—may serve as crude indexes of popular mood. More useful, though less easy to obtain, are direct questions in cross-sectional interviews. The goal of predicting revolution is conceived but not yet born or mature
A meta-analytic review of empirical studies that have investigated incubation effects on problem solving is reported. Although some researchers have reported increased solution rates after an incubation period (i.e., a period of time in which a problem is set aside prior to further attempts to solve), others have failed to find effects. The analysis examined the contributions of moderators such as problem type, presence of solution-relevant or misleading cues, and lengths of preparation and incubation periods to incubation effect sizes. The authors identified a positive incubation effect, with divergent thinking tasks benefiting more than linguistic and visual insight tasks from incubation. Longer preparation periods gave a greater incubation effect, whereas filling an incubation period with high cognitive demand tasks gave a smaller incubation effect. Surprisingly, low cognitive demand tasks yielded a stronger incubation effect than did rest during an incubation period when solving linguistic insight problems. The existence of multiple types of incubation effect provides evidence for differential invocation of knowledge-based vs. strategic solution processes across different classes of problem, and it suggests that the conditions under which incubation can be used as a practical technique for enhancing problem solving must be designed with care.
In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.
Research on seasonal effects on suicide rates suggests that the prevalence of suicide is greatest during the late spring and early summer months, despite the common belief that suicide rates peak during the cold and dark months of the winter season.
Character amnesia is a phenomenon whereby experienced speakers of some East Asian languages forget how to write Chinese characters previously well known to them. The phenomenon is specifically tied to prolonged and extensive use of input methods, such as those that use romanizations of characters, and is documented to be a significant issue in China and Japan. Modern technology, such as mobile phones and computers, allows users to enter Chinese characters using their phonetic transcription without knowing how to write them by hand. Whether or not the phenomenon is as widespread or troubling as some have claimed is the subject of debate.
SkySat is a constellation of sub-meter resolution Earth observation satellites owned by Planet Labs, providing imagery, high-definition video and analytics services. Planet acquired the satellites with their purchase of Terra Bella, a Mountain View, California-based company founded in 2009 by Dan Berkenstock, Julian Mann, John Fenwick, and Ching-Yu Hu, from Google in 2017.
Long hair is a hairstyle where the head hair is allowed to grow to a considerable length. Exactly what constitutes long hair can change from culture to culture, or even within cultures. For example, a woman with chin-length hair in some cultures may be said to have short hair, while a man with the same length of hair in some of the same cultures would be said to have long hair.
Roadside Picnic is a science fiction novel by Soviet-Russian authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, written in 1971 and published in 1972. It is the brothers' most popular and most widely translated novel outside the former Soviet Union. As of 2003, Boris Strugatsky has counted 55 publications of "Picnic" in 22 countries.
Brain Wave is a science fiction novel by American writer Poul Anderson, first published in serial form in Space Science Fiction in 1953, and then as a novel in 1954. Anderson had said that he could consider it one of his top five books. This is one of many science fiction works written at this time on the theme of heightened intelligence.
Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also co-wrote, co-edited, and produced the film. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as American astronauts who are stranded in space after the mid-orbit destruction of their Space Shuttle, and attempt to return to Earth.
The Wild Geese is a 1978 British-Swiss epic war film directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and starring Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, and Hardy Krüger. The screenplay concerns a group of mercenaries in Africa. It was the result of a long-held ambition of its producer Euan Lloyd to make an all-star adventure film similar to The Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare. The same producer and director were later responsible for The Sea Wolves.
Tea with Mussolini is a 1999 Anglo-Italian semi-autobiographical film directed by Franco Zeffirelli, scripted by John Mortimer, telling the story of a young Italian boy's upbringing by a circle of British and American women before and during the Second World War.
Maoyū Maō Yūsha, also known as Maoyu, or Archenemy and Hero in English, is a Japanese light novel series by Mamare Touno that was initially posted in a play format on the textboard 2channel in 2009. Enterbrain published five main novels in the series, in addition to three side-story novels between 2010 and 2012, selling over 450,000 copies in total. It has received several manga adaptations. A 12-episode anime adaptation by Arms aired in Japan from January 5 to March 30, 2013. The series follows the exploits of a human hero and the queen of demons who join forces to bring peace and prosperity to their war-torn world.
Explosions in the Sky is an American post-rock band from Texas. The quartet originally played under the name Breaker Morant, then changed to the current name in 1999. The band has garnered popularity beyond the post-rock scene for their elaborately developed guitar work, narratively styled instrumentals—what they refer to as "cathartic mini-symphonies"—and their enthusiastic and emotional live shows. They primarily play with three electric guitars and a drum kit, although band member Michael James will at times exchange his electric guitar for a bass guitar. The band has later added a fifth member to their live performances. The band's music is almost purely instrumental.
God Is an Astronaut are an Irish post-rock band from County Wicklow, formed in 2002 by Niels and Torsten Kinsella. Their style employs elements of electronic music, krautrock, and space rock, reminiscent of Tangerine Dream. The band currently consists of Niels and Torsten Kinsella and Lloyd Hanney. They have released 9 studio albums to date.
Subscription page for the monthly gwern.net newsletter. There are monthly updates, which will include summaries of projects I’ve worked on that month (the same as the changelog), collations of links or discussions from my subreddit, and book/movie reviews. You can also browse the archives since December 2013.
Newsletter tag: archive of all issues back to 2013 for the gwern.net newsletter (monthly updates, which will include summaries of projects I’ve worked on that month (the same as the changelog), collations of links or discussions from my subreddit, and book/movie reviews.)