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Biweekly links for 11/27/2009

by Michael Nielsen on November 27, 2009
  • So, Where’s My Robot?
    • Social machine learning blog from Andrea Thomaz
  • Reddit interview with former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation
  • Distilling Free-Form Natural Laws from Experimental Data — Schmidt and Lipson 324 (5923): 81 — Science
    • “A key challenge to finding analytic relations automatically is defining algorithmically what makes a correlation in observed data important and insightful. We propose a principle for the identification of nontriviality. We demonstrated this approach by automatically searching motion-tracking data captured from various physical systems, ranging from simple harmonic oscillators to chaotic double-pendula. Without any prior knowledge about physics, kinematics, or geometry, the algorithm discovered Hamiltonians, Lagrangians, and other laws of geometric and momentum conservation. The discovery rate accelerated as laws found for simpler systems were used to bootstrap explanations for more complex systems, gradually uncovering the “alphabet” used to describe those systems.”
  • Statistical Learning as the Ultimate Agile Development Tool
    • Excellent lecture from Peter Norvig. Interesting ideas include: the phrase “data-driven programming”; evidence that a bad algorithm with lots of data may outperform a good algorithm with less data; the idea that it may be possible to solve very complex problems with incredibly simple programs and lots of data.
  • Rambles at starchamber.com » Blog Archive » Information obesity
    • “It occurred to me that I was suffering from information obesity. Prosperity has caused most of us to go from problems associated too little food to problems associated with too much food. Until you adjust to the change, hoarding and binging can make you fat, sick, and miserable. Once I started thinking about information the same way, I could just picture the greasy fat folds in my brain.”
  • LibriVox
    • “LibriVox provides free audiobooks from the public domain.”
  • Galaxy Zoo Blog » Galaxy Zoo: Understanding Cosmic Mergers
    • A new Galaxy Zoo subproject: “Starting at midnight 11/24, our new site ‘Galaxy Zoo: Understanding Cosmic Mergers’ went on-line as a new project in Galaxy Zoo. In Mergers, we are working to understand the cosmic collisions that lead to galaxy mergers. Every day we will have a new target galaxy that we need your help to model. Based on the basic input parameters that we provide, a Java applet running in your browser will simulate some possible collision scenarios. Computers don’t do a good job comparing simulations and real astronomical images, so we need your help to find out which simulations are the most similar to the real galaxy collision.”
  • The Happiness Project: A Little-Known Occupational Hazard Affecting Writers.
    • Yup: “There’s a very common occupational hazard that affects writers, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about it: the desire to write outside your main field… Of course, you can choose what you write about. You just can’t choose what you want to write about.”
  • Einstein Declines
    • 1952 article in Time Magazine about Einstein declining the offer to become the second President of Israel.

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