"research" entries

Four short links: 17 March 2016

Four short links: 17 March 2016

Boozy Tweets, Quantum Games, Viva Vectors, and Being Fired

  1. Algorithm Identifies Tweets Sent Under the Influence of Alcohol (MIT TR) — notable for how they determined whether a Tweet was sent from home. They made a list of phrases like “home at last!” and had MTurkers confirm the Tweets were about being home, then used those as training data for an algorithm to identify other Tweets talking about home.
  2. Puzzle Game to Help Program Quantum Computers (New Scientist) — Devitt has turned the problem of programming a quantum computer into a game called meQuanics. His team has developed a prototype to test the game, which you can play now, and today launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a fully fledged version for iOS and Android phones.
  3. Deep or Shallow, NLP is Breaking Out (ACM) — readable roundup of how NLP changed in the last five years, with a useful list for further reading and watching.
  4. Firing and Being Fired (Zach Holman) — advice for the fired, the firing, and the coworkers. All solid.
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Four short links: 16 March 2016

Four short links: 16 March 2016

Analytic Monitoring, Commenter Demographics, Math and Empathy, and How We Read

  1. MacroBaseAnalytic monitoring for the Internet of Things. The code behind a research paper, written up in the morning paper where Adrian Colyer says, there is another story that also unfolds in the paper – one of careful system design based on analysis of properties of the problem space, of thinking deeply and taking the time to understand the prior art (aka “the literature”), and then building on those discoveries to advance and adapt them to the new situation. “That’s what research is all about!” you may say, but it’s also what we’d (I’d?) love to see more of in practitioner settings, too. The result of all this hard work is a system that comprises just 7,000 lines of code, and I’m sure, many, many hours of thinking!
  2. Survey of Commenters and Comment ReadersAmericans who leave news comments, who read news comments, and who do neither are demographically distinct. News commenters are more male, have lower levels of education, and have lower incomes compared to those who read news comments. (via Marginal Revolution)
  3. The Empathizing-Systemizing Theory, Social Abilities, and Mathematical Achievement in Children (Nature) — systematic thinking doesn’t predict math ability in children, but being empathetic predicts being worse at math. The effect is stronger with girls. The authors propose the mechanism is that empathetic children pick up a teacher’s own dislike of math, and any teacher biases like “girls aren’t good at math.”
  4. Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read (NYT) — On average, fewer than half of the books tested were finished by a majority of readers. Most readers typically give up on a book in the early chapters. Women tend to quit after 50 to 100 pages, men after 30 to 50. Only 5% of the books Jellybooks tested were completed by more than 75% of readers. Sixty percent of books fell into a range where 25% to 50% of test readers finished them. Business books have surprisingly low completion rates. Not surprisingly low to anyone who has ever read a business book. They’re always a 20-page idea stretched to 150 pages because that’s how wide a book’s spine has to be to visible on the airport bookshelf. Fat paper stock and 14-point text with wide margins and 1.5 line spacing help, too. Don’t forget to leave pages after each chapter for the reader’s notes. And summary checklists. And … sorry, I need to take a moment.
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Four short links: 14 March 2016

Four short links: 14 March 2016

Measure What Matters, Broken Laws, Password Recovery Questions, and 3D Object Tracking

  1. What Thomas Hardy Taught MeIn educational research, perhaps the greatest danger lies in thinking “that which I cannot measure is not real.” The disruption fetishists have amplified this danger, now evincing the attitude “teaching that cannot be said to lead to the immediate acquisition of rote, mechanical skills has no value.” But absolutely every aspect of my educational journey — as a student, as a teacher, and as a researcher — demonstrates the folly of this approach to learning. (via Dan Meyer)
  2. Why Anti-Money Laundering Laws and Poorly Designed Copyright Laws Are Similar and Should be Revised (Joi Ito) — Just like with the Internet, weaknesses in networks like the blockchain propagate to countries and regions where privacy risks to users could cause significant risks to human rights workers, journalists, or anyone who questions authority. The conversation on creating new AML and KYC laws for new financial systems like bitcoin and blockchain needs to be a global one.
  3. Secrets, Lies, and Account Recovery: Lessons from the Use of Personal Knowledge Questions at Google — Adrian Colyer summarizes a paper from Google. Using a crowdsourcing service, the authors asked 1,000 users to answer the ‘Favourite Food’ and ‘Father’s middle name’ questions. This took less than a day and cost $100. […] Using a single guess, it turns out, you have a 19.7% chance of guessing an English-speaking users’ answer to the favourite food.
  4. Clever MEMS 3D Object Tracking — early Oculus engineer has invented a nifty way to track a tagged object in 3D space. Worth reading for the description of how it works.
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Four short links: 11 March 2016

Four short links: 11 March 2016

Deep-Learning Catan, Scala Tutorials, Legal Services, and Shiny Echo

  1. Strategic Dialogue Management via Deep Reinforcement Learning (Adrian Colyer) — a neural network learns to play Settlers of Catan. Is nothing sacred?
  2. scala school — Twitter’s instructional material for coming up to speed on scala.
  3. Robin Hood Fellowship — fellowship to use technology to increase access to legal services for New Yorkers. Stuff that matters.
  4. The Echo From Amazon Brims With Groundbreaking Promise (NY Times) — A bit more than a year after its release, the Echo has morphed from a gimmicky experiment into a device that brims with profound possibility. The longer I use it, the more regularly it inspires the same sense of promise I felt when I used the first iPhone — a sense this machine is opening up a vast new realm in personal computing, and gently expanding the role that computers will play in our future.
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Four short links: 10 March 2016

Four short links: 10 March 2016

Cognitivist and Behaviourist AI, Math and Social Computing, A/B Testing Stats, and Rat Cyborgs are Smarter

  1. Crossword-Solving Neural NetworksHill describes recent progress in learning-based AI systems in terms of behaviourism and cognitivism: two movements in psychology that effect how one views learning and education. Behaviourism, as the name implies, looks at behaviour without looking at what the brain and neurons are doing, while cognitivism looks at the mental processes that underlie behaviour. Deep learning systems like the one built by Hill and his colleagues reflect a cognitivist approach, but for a system to have something approaching human intelligence, it would have to have a little of both. “Our system can’t go too far beyond the dictionary data on which it was trained, but the ways in which it can are interesting, and make it a surprisingly robust question and answer system – and quite good at solving crossword puzzles,” said Hill. While it was not built with the purpose of solving crossword puzzles, the researchers found that it actually performed better than commercially-available products that are specifically engineered for the task.
  2. Mathematical Foundations for Social Computing (PDF) — collection of pointers to existing research in social computing and some open challenges for work to be done. Consider situations where a highly structured decision must be made. Some examples are making budgets, assigning water resources, and setting tax rates. […] One promising candidate is “Knapsack Voting.” […] This captures most budgeting processes — the set of chosen budget items must fit under a spending limit, while maximizing societal value. Goel et al. prove that asking users to compare projects in terms of “value for money” or asking them to choose an entire budget results in provably better properties than using the more traditional approaches of approval or rank-choice voting.
  3. Power, Minimal Detectable Effect, and Bucket Size Estimation in A/B Tests (Twitter) — This post describes how Twitter’s A/B testing framework, DDG, addresses one of the most common questions we hear from experimenters, product managers, and engineers: how many users do we need to sample in order to run an informative experiment?
  4. Intelligence-Augmented Rat Cyborgs in Maze Solving (PLoS) — We compare the performance of maze solving by computer, by individual rats, and by computer-aided rats (i.e. rat cyborgs). They were asked to find their way from a constant entrance to a constant exit in 14 diverse mazes. Performance of maze solving was measured by steps, coverage rates, and time spent. The experimental results with six rats and their intelligence-augmented rat cyborgs show that rat cyborgs have the best performance in escaping from mazes. These results provide a proof-of-principle demonstration for cyborg intelligence. In addition, our novel cyborg intelligent system (rat cyborg) has great potential in various applications, such as search and rescue in complex terrains.
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Four short links: 29 February 2016

Four short links: 29 February 2016

Robots & Decisions, Brain Modem, Distributed Devops Clue, and Robots in Law

  1. Learning Models for Robot Decision Making (YouTube) — a talk at the CMU Robotics Institute.
  2. Brain Modema tiny sensor that travels through blood vessels, lodges in the brain and records neural activity. The “stentrode” (stent + electrode) is the size of a paperclip, and Melbourne researchers (funded by DARPA) have made the first successful animal trials.
  3. The Past and Future are Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed (Usenix) — slides, audio and video.
  4. Robots in American LawThis article closely examines a half century of case law involving robots. […] The first set highlights the role of robots as the objects of American law. Among other issues, courts have had to decide whether robots represent something “animate” for purposes of import tariffs, whether robots can “perform” as that term is understood in the context of a state tax on performance halls, and whether a salvage team “possesses” a shipwreck it visits with an unmanned submarine. (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 23 February 2016

Four short links: 23 February 2016

AI or IA, Retro Chatbots, Science by Software, and Spec as Test Oracle

  1. Doing Something For Me vs Allowing Me To Do Even More (Matt Webb) — nails the split in startups. Come on, valley kids … do you want diapers or do you want superpowers?
  2. Paul Ford on RacterBut don’t get too ahead of things. Using Racter is not as different from using Siri as you might expect. It’s just that Siri has petabytes of stuff in her brain, whereas Racter has a floppy’s worth. Computers have changed a ton in the last 30 years, humans barely at all. Don’t mistake their progress for ours. We’ve learned how to talk to computers, and they’ve learned how to pretend to understand us. Useful when driving. People love chatting with their Amazon Echo. But the conversation still doesn’t really mean anything.
  3. Accelerating Science: A Computing Research Agenda (PDF) — Siri thinks I want to tell telemarketers to “duck off,” while researchers look to automated hypothesis generation, experiment design, results analysis, and knowledge integration.
  4. Not Quite So Broken TLS (Adrian Colyer) — instead of ad-hoc codery, A precise and testable specification (in this case for TLS) that unambiguously determines the set of behaviours it allows (and hence also what it does not). The specification should also be executable as a test oracle, to determine whether or not a given implementation is compliant. The paper outlines this for TLS, but I see formal methods growing in importance in coming years. We can’t build an airport with cardboard on a swamp. In this metaphor, cardboard represents our ad hoc dev practices and the swamp is our platform of crap code. The airport is … look, never mind, I’ll work on the metaphor. Read the paper.
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Four short links: 22 February 2016

Four short links: 22 February 2016

Immersive Flood, Human Jobs, Anonymous Security, and Chrome Speed

  1. Facebook Creates Social VR Team (FT) — Facebook said that users had uploaded 20,000 videos in VR-friendly 360-degree format. At same time as HTC Vive VR Headset price is announced, LG 360 VR is announced, the new Samsung handsets come with a Gear VR headset, and Samsung’s Gear 360 camera is announced. There’s a heap of immersive hardware coming.
  2. AAAI-16 Panel on Future of Work (Tech Republic) — “It’s hard to argue that there will be new jobs for humans,” said Vardi. “It’s a vacuous promise.”
  3. Security Without Identification (PDF) — a David Chaum paper from 1985. Digital pseudonyms, handheld signing devices, Current systems emphasize the one-sided security of organizations attempting to protect themselves from individuals; the new approach allows all parties to protect their own interests. The new approach relies on individuals keeping secret keys from organizations and organizations devising other secret keys that are kept from individuals. During transactions, parties use these keys to provide each other with specially coded confirmation of the transaction details, which can be used as evidence.
  4. Killing Slow Chrome Tabs (Medium) — There is one not-so-well known tool in Chrome, that allows you to analyse how much resources the individual tabs consume. It is called Task Manager and you can find it in Menu > More Tools > Task Manager.
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Four short links: 19 February 2016

Four short links: 19 February 2016

Exoskeletons Insured, Companies Rethought, IoT OS Launched, and BotNets Open Sourced

  1. Exoskeletons Must be Covered by Health Insurance (VICE) — A medical review board ruled that a health insurance provider in the United States is obligated to provide coverage and reimbursement for a $69,500 ReWalk robotic exoskeleton, in what could be a major turning point for people with spinal cord injuries. (via Robohub)
  2. New Models for the Company of the 21st Century (Simone Brunozzi) — large companies often get displaced by new entrants, failing to innovate and/or adapt to new technologies. Y-Combinator can be seen as a new type of company, where innovation is brought in as an entrepreneurial experiment, largely for seed-stage ideas; Google’s Alphabet, on the other hand, tries to stimulate innovation and risk by dividing a large company into smaller pieces and reassigning ownership and responsibilities to different CEOs.
  3. Zephyr — Linux Foundation’s IoT open source OS project. tbh, I don’t see people complaining about operating systems. Integrating all these devices (and having the sensors actually usefully capturing what you want) seems the bigger problem. We already have fragmentation (is it a Samsung home or a Nest home?), and as more Big Swinging Click companies enter the world of smarter things, this will only get worse before it gets better.
  4. A Hands-On Approach on Botnets for a Learning Purpose — these researchers are working on open source botnet software for researchers to bang on. (So you don’t need to attract the interest of actual botnet operators while you learn what you’re doing.)
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Four short links: 3 February 2016

Four short links: 3 February 2016

Security Forecast, Machine Learning for Defence, Retro PC Fonts, and Cognitive Psych Research

  1. Software Security Ideas Ahead of Their Time — astonishing email exchange from 1995 presaged a hell of a lot of security work.
  2. Doxxing Sherlock — Cory Doctorow’s ruminations on surveillance, Sherlock, and what he found in the Snowden papers. What he found included an outline of intelligence use of machine learning.
  3. Old-School PC Fonts — definitive collection of ripped-from-the-BIOS fonts from the various types of PCs. Your eyes will ache with nostalgia. (Or, if you’re a young gun, wondering how anybody wrote code with fonts like that) (my terminal font is VT220 because it makes me happy and productive)
  4. Cognitive Load: Brain GemsWe distill the latest behavioural economics & consumer psychology research down into helpful little brain gems.
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