Tag: learning

DataCamp is roast tenderloin for the brain

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the term big data. Yes, there’s a lot of bits and bytes out there, created not only by sheer prevalence of tweets about microwaveable mac n’ cheese (and cats … lots of cats), but also via trivial technological advances in the areas of computer security, genome sequencing, and even what bar you’re drinking at geo-location. With all these haystacks came the desire for finding needles; as a result number crunching has undeniably experienced a renaissance.

I became curious about what it all meant. But seeing as I was a “B” student (on a good day) when it came to sample sizes and p-values – preferring debits, credits and present value calculations to wondering why anyone would make decisions based on a measurement that sounded like a hot drink (squared) – the whiskered was summarily sent to its demise.

Last summer I signed on for a nine-course regimen in this data science, offered by Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with Coursera, fully expecting it to be a pile of mumbo jumbo I could whiz through before year’s end. A comprehensive review of those courses is planned for publication here in early 2015, and I can state with 95% confidence that I’ll meet the hard deadline. However, I lied; I was really a “C” student in regression and the like (when I even went to class), so the series subject matter was, in several cases both proverbially and actually, more than I bargained for.

To weed through the mess, truly comprehend the fundamentals, and find some nuggets of practicality within required an investment significantly in excess of my original, cocksure estimate. In addition to the acquisition of several texts in statistical inference, modeling and prediction, I also found some excellent online resources to assist in the cause. One of those was DataCamp, an R-programming oriented teaching tool which turned out to be a savior during the work. Real learn-as-you-do material.


So without further ado – that is, barring failure to recall that less than one standard deviation from the mean does not a null hypothesis rejection make (which I might) – I give the site two big thumbs up.

MG signing off (because he still can’t simulate a random normal distribution with R, but he fakes it like a champ)

This ghost isn’t in the machine – it is the machine

From a bridge twenty feet above the water, I shout directions down to cohort Will Rice as he targets the beast…

“Thirty feet, 10 o’ clock. Strip. Let it sit. Okay, strip.”

The fish eats. After that, you count your blessings if your fly rod survives.

These elusive gamefish haunting our urban waters already reject flies regardless of perfect presentation. Picking and choosing – you know, deep in your own gut, they are formulating an opinion on whether to consume your offering. It’s methodical.

More frightening, however, they’ve now developed a peculiar habit of turning directly towards the rod on hookset, opening their mouths and rolling into the pressure. It looked innocent enough when I first saw it happen – a simple flight reaction – and I wrote it off as bad luck. Now I’ve talked to others who carp, and they’ve seen the same recently.

During yesterday afternoon’s outing, I was asked whether I thought it was good or bad that more fly fishers were paying attention to South Platte carp. My immediate reply was to the positive. Attention directed at the inhabitants of the waterway should beget attention to the river itself. All good.

We also laughed off the idea that these fish were rejecting more flies than they had in years prior – the consensus was there were just too many fish in the river to have covered them all – but I’m beginning to wonder. Scholars have noted these creatures possess an uncanny ability to sense danger, and somehow communicate it to their brethren.

Are they exhibiting learning behaviors: how to avoid, and evade, capture? Somehow relaying that information to their fellow fish? And committing it to memory?

MG signing off (as I’m the one who’s now spooked)