Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Coffee (and Chicory) Essence

It's my essence! Mine! Mine!

Naturally, it expels the old method as if it were a delinquent student.

(Tip of the cap to David Fallon.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Oh, Britain –– For Shame

Really, Great Britain? For shame. (And for fuck's sake.)

I could go on a long rant, but I would only expend energy and fumes. I wish I could at least say that I am surprised, but I'm not. Foreigners are made to feel very unwelcome here (and both my students and I have experienced it often), and it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

For shame.

Update (2/22/16): And here is another horror story. (Tip of the cap to Yves van Gennip.)

Quote of the Day: Hashtag Edition

Today's SMBC has a priceless quote: "There can be no quarter when facing the hoary countenance of evil. I must select my hashtag with care."

(The rest of today's comic strip is meh.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Acoustics of Breaking Chopsticks

In my latest post for the Improbable Research blog, I discuss the acoustics of breaking chopsticks.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Theorem: There Exist Arbitrarily Long Songs of Complexity O(1)

As discussed in a paper by Donald Knuth, the proof is due to Casey and the Sunshine Band.

Every Flavor Except for a Set of Measure Zero?

I saw these Harry-Potter-inspired jelly beans at a market many years ago, and I was struck by "Every Flavor Beans" now coming with two more flavors. Perhaps they mean every flavor except for a set of measure zero?

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Most Googled Job in Each State

Here is a visualization of some jobs that each U.S. state led in Google searches. Some of these are fantastic.

(Tip of the cap to Kin Chan.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Website: "Sweatpants and Coffee"

I just encountered the website Sweatpants and Coffee from a link in Jennifer Nicoll Victor's Facebook post.

The only reason I am blogging about this is because the site's title is particularly apt for me.

Visualization: California for Beginners

This visualization provides a good summary of California for beginners.

(Tip of the cap to Maria King.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

RIP Animal (1950–2016)

With rock legend David Bowie and other prominent rockers (like Glenn Frey, who was a founding member of the Eagles, and several others) dying in their late 60s (or sometimes early 70s) the last couple of weeks, January 2016 really feels like "The Month the Music Died" (especially with rock music), this article about Animal dying at age 66 is a parody that somebody had to write.

For music, this has been a really awful month...

(Tip of the cap to Chris Howland.)

Ancient Egyptian d20

Apparently, Ancient Egyptians made small model icosohedrons (i.e., d20s, for those with a role-playing game bent).

One day, I hope that somebody unearths a character sheet, written in hieroglyphics, that was buried with an ancient Egyptian royal.

(Tip of the cap to Steven Wilson.)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Periodic Table Battleship!

I approve!

Freeway Knot Theory

Some help from knot theorists would be appreciated. Here is a photoshopped picture of a freeway (based on a real one in Oakland, California) that needs to be untangled.

(Tip of the cap to Stanley Somers.)

Note: The original version of my post described the picture incorrectly as being an actual freeway. See this link. Also, this freeway is knotted up even more severely. :)

Getting the Last Word

Sometimes, to get the last word, you have to put it on the epitaph of your tombstone.

I have seen a few of these before. Several of them are glorious.

(Tip of the cap to George Takei.)

Subtly Messing with People

I am highly amused by these 20 ways of subtly messing with people (though some of them are not very nice at all).

(Tip of the cap to George Takei.)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Nine Simples Rules for The Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote

Here they are.

Despite one of the rules listed on that site, there was occasionally a bit of other dialog, especially on written signs.

(Tip of the cap to George Takei.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Happens in Brussels Stays in Brussels

I am now off to Brussels for the final grant review meeting for the PLEXMATH consortium.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Community Detection in Temporal Multilayer Networks, with an Application to Correlation Networks"

One of my papers was just published in final form a few days ago. As the title indicates, this paper concerns community detection in temporal multilayer networks. Here are the title, authors, and abstract.

Title: Community Detection in Temporal Multilayer Networks, with an Application to Correlation Networks

Authors: Marya Bazzi, Mason A. Porter, Stacy Williams , Mark McDonald, Daniel J. Fenn, and Sam D. Howison

Abstract: Abstract. Networks are a convenient way to represent complex systems of interacting entities. Many networks contain “communities” of nodes that are more densely connected to each other than to nodes in the rest of the network. In this paper, we investigate the detection of communities in temporal networks represented as multilayer networks. As a focal example, we study time-dependent financial-asset correlation networks. We first argue that the use of the "modularity" quality function –– which is defined by comparing edge weights in an observed network to expected edge weights in a "null network" –– is application-dependent. We differentiate between "null networks" and "null models" in our discussion of modularity maximization, and we highlight that the same null network can correspond to different null models. We then investigate a multilayer modularity-maximization problem to identify communities in temporal networks. Our multilayer analysis depends only on the form of the maximization problem and not on the specific quality function that one chooses. We introduce a diagnostic to measure persistence of community structure in a multilayer network partition. We prove several results that describe how the multilayer maximization problem measures a trade-off between static community structure within layers and larger values of persistence across layers. We also discuss some computational issues that the popular "Louvain" heuristic faces with temporal multilayer networks and suggest ways to mitigate them.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

RIP David Bowie (1947–2016)

Today, we lost a music legend: David Bowie has died of cancer. His last album was released three days ago (last Friday, on his 69th birthday).

There are numerous excellent David Bowie songs --- so much good (and very innovative) music! RIP.

Update: There is more detail in the BBC obituary. Here is the CNN obituary.

Update: As discussed in this article in The Telegraph, the timing of the release of David Bowie's final album last Friday was as a 'parting gift' to his fans. And the video for "Blackstar", which completes the saga both of Major Tom and of David Bowie, is chilling (especially in the context that it has turned out to have).

Update (1/12/16): Also look at these final pictures of David Bowie from last Friday. Amazing!

Update (1/12/16): I should have mentioned the following for those of you who don't already know: In addition to my really liking quite a lot of David Bowie's songs, Bowie exerted a major influence on so many of my favorite artists. The music to which I listen every day, and which gives me a great deal of pleasure, owes a Hell of a lot to David Bowie.

Update (1/13/16): Also see this small collection of tributes. Also don't forget this video (which was first posted in 2013, though is appropriate now more than ever).

Update (1/16/16): Here is visualization of many prominent musical artists and others who were influenced by David Bowie. (Tip of the cap to Duran Duran's post on Facebook.)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

What Happens in Wroclaw Stays in Wroclaw (2016 Edition)

Tomorrow, I'll be flying to Network Science X 2016. I'll be giving one of the invited talks.

Apparently, there is going to be some free ice skating at the conference venue. This deserves a Mel-Brooksian "SEE NetSci on Ice!"

Also, this leads to the obvious hashtag ‪#‎NetSciOnIce‬ , which isn't cool yet but hopefully will be.

The Impressive Strength of Interleaved Phonebooks

My latest entry for the Improbable Research blog concerns the impressive strength of interleaved phonebooks.

I managed to miss the blog entry about this that appeared in August. Oops! But at least I coined the phrase "Hercules number".

Eastman–Kodak and the 13-Month Calendar

Yes, really. So cool!

(Tip of the cap to Karen Kustedjo.)

Update (1/23/16): I wrote about the 13-month calendar for the Improbable Research blog.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Choreographic Crystals!

Theorists have formulated a new kind of crystal that they have dubbed "choreographic crystals". Very cool!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Dodgers Signing of Pitcher Kenta Maeda is Now Official

The Dodgers have now officially signed pitcher Kenta Maeda to an 8-year deal.

(After counting two too many chickens with certain prior pitching "acquisitions", which both fell apart, I waited to post this blog entry until the deal with Maeda became official.)

Curative Properties of Chicken Soup?

This article --- and, especially, its opening picture --- makes me want to have some chicken soup.

(Tip of the cap to I Fucking Love Science.)

New Baseball Hall of Famers

Baseball's new Hall of Famers were announced last night: first-time candidate Ken Griffey Jr. was voted in with the highest percentage ever (99.3%, with 437 of 440 possible votes), and Mike Pizza was elected in his 4th year of eligibility.

Naturally, Piazza should have already been voted in 3 years ago, but such is life. (Other luminaries --- such as Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, and many others, also had to wait --- so it's not like that is new, though the back-acne McCarthyist steroid allegations are a different reason than in the past.) Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling made significant gains. Bagwell got over 70% of the vote and Raines got 69.8%, so I expect that they will both finally be elected next year. It's long past time. Trevor Hoffman also debuted on the ballot this year, and his 67.3% of the vote makes it very likely that he'll get elected in the next couple of years. (There is a good chance for next year, but I am not so sure.) Edgar Martinez made especially large gains, reaching a voting percentage of 43.4%, but he's running out of time. Then we have Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds...

Alan Trammell surpassed 40% of the vote in his last year on the ballot. It was also Mark McGwire's last year on the ballot. Unfortunately, Jim Edmonds didn't get the 5% of the vote needed to stay on the ballot next year; this is a shame, as he deserves a lot more consideration for the Hall than he got.

David Schoenfield discussed the winners and losers in this year's ballot.

Griffey is the first #1 overall draft pick to enter the Hall of Fame. By contrast, Piazza (1,390th pick, 62nd round, 1998) is the lowest ever draft pick to make the Hall. Griffey will presumably be enshrined as a Mariner, and Maybe Piazza will enter the Hall as a Marlin? ;) (I hope it will be the Dodgers, but I suspect it may well end up being the Mets.)

You can take a look at the Hall of Fame vote tracker to see many more details on the voting.

This page details newcomers who are eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot starting in 2017. Notable ballot debuts in 2017 include Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez, and Ivan Rodriguez. Of those, Rodriguez has the best chance of making it next year. No major new pitchers debut on the ballot until 2019, so that gives Mussina and Schilling a got chance to make additional major gains by then. Both of them are massively overqualified for the Hall of Fame.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Error Message in the Sky

Well, it's not quite a wheel in the sky, but this error message in the sky is awesome!

(Tip of the cap to Guillermo Valle PĂ©rez.)

Ars Technica: "The Best New Board Games We Played in 2015"

Ars Technica has posted an article about their favorite new board games they played in 2015.

I am posting this for a specific reason: take a look at the designers of the game Roll for the Galaxy by Rio Grande Games! It's Caltech's very own Wei-Hwa Huang (from my era). Very cool!

(Tip of the cap to Nevin Liber.)