Tagmathematics

The Rise of Predictive Policing: Police Using Statistics to Predict Crime

The Minority Report

The Department of Homeland security is field testing a system that will attempt to predict which passengers on an airline are planning terrorist activity, according to Nature. The system, called Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) looks at a number of factors, including your pulse, the steadiness of your gaze and the way you walk and calculates the probability that you’re planning to commit a crime. It’s a bit like a polygraph, but it doesn’t require subjects to be connecting to a polygraph.

DHS claims that the system is 70% effective in lab tests.

Nature: Terrorist ‘pre-crime’ detector field tested in United States

But DHS isn’t the only law enforcement agency looking to statistic modeling to predict crime. Earlier this year Slate ran a story on how police departments, including the LAPD and Chicago PD, are researching predictive policing. This projects aren’t about predicting the actions of one individual, Minority Report style, but instead are designed to help decide how best to allocate police resources.

Slate: Can police really predict crime before it happens?.

“Wisdom of the Crowd” Wiped Out When Individuals Know What Others in the Crowd are Thinking

The “wisdom of the crowd” has become a bit of a pop cliché, but it’s backed up by real-world evidence. When groups of people are asked to provide estimates of obscure information, the median value of their answers will often be remarkably close to the right one, even though many of their answers are laughably wrong. But crowds rarely act in the absence of social influences, and some researchers in Zurich have now shown that providing individuals information about what their fellow crowd-members are thinking is enough to wipe out the crowd’s wisdom. […]

Compared to the control setup, the additional information changed the crowd’s collective behavior dramatically. In what the authors term the “social influence effect,” the panels that were provided with information about their peers quickly narrowed their focus onto a fairly limited set of values, meaning the diversity of their answers decreased. In contrast, the control group retained its initial diversity throughout the repeated rounds of questioning.

Worse still, the panels that were provided with social information narrowed in on answers that were more likely to be wrong.

Ars Technica: Social influences kill the wisdom of the crowd

Otomata – Flash-based Cellular Automata Music Sequencer

Otomata

Patent Filing for Cellular Automata Financial Trading Method and System

The present invention comprises a method using cellular automata to process existing trading data from traders to generate unprecedented output that improves a wide range of future financial trading decisions and alerts for both individual traders and institutions. However, the method and system of the present invention is not a predictive system based on input of market data and it is not algorithmic. Rather, the method and system instead uses cellular automata logic to mimic human trading behavior. Based on the observations of human trading behavior decisions, the present invention generates an output of buy and sells decisions or simply an alert signal. This use of cellular automata as a basis for evaluating trading behavior provides a different basis for generating trading decisions and alerts and forms a new class of financial alerts over the prior art. The method of using cellular automata logic to process financial trading signals is therefore a paradigm shift in the logic behind trading decisions and alerts. It creates a new kind of technical analysis that features cellular automata interacting with human traders and data.

Free Patents Online: Patent Filing for Cellular Automata Financial Trading Method and System

(via Wade)

See also:

Predicting the Future with Twitter

Pi, Plato, and the Language of Nature

New Interview with Mathpunk Tom Henderson

Mathpunk

There’s a new interview with Tom Henderson (aka Mathpunk) on the podcast Strongly Connected Components. Tom talks about numeracy, his teaching style and whatever happened to Math for Primates.

Strongly Connected Components: Tom Henderson

My interview with Tom is here.

Elementary Study of Symmetry Online Workshop, No Math Background Needed

Symmetry workshop poster

If you don’t know who Fadereu is, I’m not sure I can explain him quickly or accurately. For simplicity sake, he’s an Indian artist and mathematician – and he’s running an online workshop of the study of symmetry:

he KNK101 workshop introduces the elementary study of symmetry ( known as ‘group theory’) to an audience with no background in mathematics. This field of mathematics has very little to do with numbers, instead – it studies transformation and movement of abstract structures. The applications of group theory range from simple permutation puzzles and military or monetary cryptography to particle physics and general relativity, making it the central conceptual framework of our age.

The workshop is spread over 6 weeks ( or three fortnights ) and the details for registration are here. [ tldr: just drop me a mail at fadebox/gmail. The fee is $50 (international) and the equivalent Rs 2400 for India. Please hurry!]

Fadereu: KNK101 Workshop (Feb15-Mar30, 2011): The Complete Syllabus

Lost Alan Moore Comic: Big Numbers # 3

Big Numbers 3

I dug ever so slightly deeper into why I love the Master, the Alan Moore archive site I mentioned recently, and found another rare gem: the long lost Big Numbers # 3. It’s actually been up since March, 2009 – I don’t know this has escaped me for so long.

After Bill Sienkiewicz quit Big Numbers after completing two issues and beginning a third, Tundra hired Sienkiewicz’s assistant Al Columbia to complete the project. Columbia finished issue 3 and part of issue 4, but then, well, something happened. Issues 3 & 4was long thought destroyed, but it turns out that photocopies of 3 surfaced on eBay last year and are now available for your reading pleasure, with the blessing of Moore (but not necessarily Columbia and Sienkiewicz).

Big Numbers # 3

Our Alan Moore dossier

Bees Can Solve the “‘Travelling Salesman Problem”

bees-complex-math

What’s interesting is that this doesn’t seem to be a result of “swarm intelligence” – individual bees can somehow make these calculations:

Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London and Royal Holloway, University of London have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order. Bees are effectively solving the ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’, and these are the first animals found to do this.

The Travelling Salesman must find the shortest route that allows him to visit all locations on his route. Computers solve it by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the shortest. However, bees solve it without computer assistance using a brain the size of grass seed. […]

Co-author and Queen Mary colleague, Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau adds: “There is a common perception that smaller brains constrain animals to be simple reflex machines. But our work with bees shows advanced cognitive capacities with very limited neuron numbers. There is an urgent need to understand the neuronal hardware underpinning animal intelligence, and relatively simple nervous systems such as those of insects make this mystery more tractable.”

PhysOrg: – Bumblebees can find the solution to a complex mathematical problem which keeps computers busy for days

(via Fadereu)

A Treasure Trove for Autodidacts

dissecting a circle

Trevor Blake sent me this:

References & Resources for LessWrong

LessWrong is “community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality.” I’ve occasionally dipped into the blog, but never made much of a habit of it. But this reference page is excellent – the section on mathematics seems particularly useful. There are sections on artificial intelligence, machine learning, game theory, computer science, philosophy and more.

And via that resource page are two other amazing resources:

Khan Academy: A massive collection of free self-paced math and science lessons.

Better Explained: a site that, y’know, explains stuff. Like calculus.

RIP Benoit Mandelbrot

fractal by Grafika

Benoît B. Mandelbrot, a maverick mathematician who developed an innovative theory of roughness and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.

His death was caused by pancreatic cancer, his wife, Aliette, said. He had lived in Cambridge.

New York Times: Benoit Mandelbrot, Mathematician, Dies at 85

(image by Grafika)

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