The Three Faces of Bayes

Last summer, I was at a conference having lunch with Hal Daumé III when we got to talking about how “Bayesian” can be a funny and ambiguous term. It seems like the definition should be straightforward: “following the work of English mathematician Rev. Thomas Bayes,” perhaps, or even “uses Bayes’ theorem.” But many methods bearing the reverend’s name…

Machine Learning Roller Derby Names

I have several friends who do roller derby, and one of my favorite things about the culture is the derby name. This is a fun way for skaters to express their personalities through witty, satirical, and mock-violent alter-egos. Since most of my derby friends also have PhDs in computer science, machine learning, or statistics, they can be wonderfully nerdy, too. A while back I was…

Encoding Human Thought Processes into a Computer

One of my favorite characters in William Gibson’s Neuromancer was a so-called “psychological construct” named The Dixie Flatline. Dixie wasn’t a person, really, but an emulation of a famous computer hacker named McCoy Pauley (based on a brain scan that was made before he died). As he — or, it — said in a conversation with the novel’s protagonist…

Machine Learning and Social Science: Taking The Best of Both Worlds

Machine learning and social science are converging, since both are hot to answer questions and challenges raised by vast modern social data sets. The more I talk to and work with social scientists, the more I realize that we use the same basic statistical tools in our research (e.g., linear or logistic regression), but in…

Machine Learning and Personality Type

Here are some thoughts on statistical approaches for pinpointing personality types. Text analysis and crowdsourcing FTW! Myers-Briggs I recently discovered Typealyzer, a service that analyzes a web page and tries to determine the author’s personality type, in terms of Myers-Briggs Type Indicators. I’m not sure what kind of classifier it uses, but it’s apparently built on uClassify‘s API…

Community Demographics and the 2012 Presidential Election

Earlier this month I was fighting a pretty bad cold. While I probably should have been doing “real” work during the sinusy waking hours at home, I decided instead to finish season two of The Walking Dead and scratch an itch regarding the 2012 presidential election. I feel like I’ve seen some sloppy journalism and…