Sunday, 5 July 2020

Statistics, Gambling, and Games of Chance

This is a proposal for a survey course on statistics that uses gambling extensively in examples. The target audience is senior undergraduates with a non-statistical background, but quantitative students will also find enough novelty to be interested. The goal of the course is not to encourage gambling, but to use it as a vehicle for a broad range of otherwise difficult statistical topics.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Cheating vs Innovation in Sports

Why do some changes in sports end up being considered cheating, and others innovation? Let's look at some historical examples for patterns.
In baseball, "the shift" is a strategy in which defensive players deviate, or ‘shift’ from the default locations for their positions to locations closer to where they expect the ball to land. This practice has had a measurable statistical effect on the game; hits other than home runs have become rarer, and the hits that do happen are more often singles compared to seasons before 2010. The shift is simply data-driven strategy and yet the practice is still controversial.

It seems like such an arbitrary thing to call out as unfair

Friday, 26 June 2020

When to use "the" or "a" in scientific writing

A.K.A. : "The", the definitive definite article article.

"The", while making up about 7% of all written and spoken English words, is the hardest word to get right. The rules surrounding "the" are so difficult to define that comprehensive dictionaries can spend 5 of more pages trying...

Saturday, 13 June 2020

R Packette - Fraction Matrix Operations

Open up any linear algebra textbook and have a look at the matrix entries. Are there all integers? Are they all written as decimals? There's probably at least some that are fractions. Matrices in computer programs are almost always in decimal form. The exception is symbolic mathematics programs like Maple and Mathematica. That's because computers store non-whole numbers as floating-point values instead.

Floating-points are fine most of the time, but they're often not exact. What happens if we work the fractions directly?

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Transient Goal Differentials: Are teams better when behind?

In the 2014-15 season, the Vancouver Canucks were a big orca in a small tank, and they could coast into the playoffs.

Some writer that I couldn't find implied that the Canucks were playing a meta game of "how badly we start a game and still win?". That is, how late can they leave a one, or even a two-goal deficit on the board and win?

Friday, 28 February 2020

First impressions of the new XFL

In 2001, the XFL, short for the X Football League* started as a sort of college-level alternate to the NHL, the premier gridiron football league in the United States. Establishing a new team is hard, let alone an entirely new league, and the XFL shut down after only one season and a ton of controversy.

In 2020, somehow, it came back.