Category Archives: Figure Stuff Out

Thoughts and observations about everything in the kitchen sink from the meaning of life to deep-fried sushi.

Creating a RSNA Word Cloud – Radiology Data Quest

The RSNA conference will take place in Chicago in 1 month. If you’ve already started looking at the meeting program, you might get the same sense of excitement as the rest of us – this …

Source: Creating a RSNA Word Cloud – Radiology Data Quest

When Gut Instinct and Logic Work Together

After the recent presidential election, you are probably either particularly alarmed or especially excited about the outcome.  Regardless of your particular political predilection, it is fair to say that this election puts data science on its head when so many got so wrong.

On an earlier issue of Harvard Business Review, the venerable magazine shared a piece of research from the University of Southern California on forecasting. When forecasting sales, the best estimators use a combination of intuition and logic – with both the logic-heavy and intuition-heavy forecasters performing less accurately.

In the age of artificial intelligence and big data, it can be sobering to realize that despite the staggering volume of data we are now collecting, ignoring your gut instincts can take a heavy toll on your decision-making abilities.

 

Source: “What type of forecaster are you?” Harvard Business Review (March): 26.

 

 

6 Elements of a Data-Driven Informatics Solution (2/3)

The first part of this discussed the heterogeneity of data projects and how a uniform approach can help hone in the solution. The first post also discussed the first two elements: Refine the question, and identifying the right data.  Here we tackle the next two elements.

img_57f1c4091698c

Plan Your Approach

At this step, we begin to go into the technicalities of data science. This post is not designed to go into the detail of each approach, but it will attempt to ask the relevant questions.

How will you process the data that you now possess? In almost all cases, this step will involve data wrangling (also known as data munging or data cleaning). To determine how the “clean” form your data must take for proper analysis, it is important to determine the transformations and algorithms necessary for your question. Continue reading

More Important Than Doing Well

My wife and I take a routine monthly trip to Costco to refill the refrigerator. Now with less than two months from core exam, she said she can drive by herself so I can have more time to study. It was thoughtful of her to offer. I thought for a moment. Buying chicken and cheese may be routine and unexciting, but it is something we do together, and there are some things more important than doing well on a test.

Quote

Doing Better Stems from Being Bored of Doing Good Enough

“The result of our approach,is that we end up with a team of people who will quickly become bored by performing tasks by hand and have the skill set necessary to write software to replace their previously manual work.”

Ben Sloss, Google

Google engineers are not afraid of automating themselves out of a job.  They embrace the challenge of finding the next best thing in machine learning, in big data, in medicine, or moonshots like longevity, because of this philosophy.

Are we bored with clicking and measuring things by hand yet?  Spell checking your report manually for semantic (i.e. error of meaning not spelling) errors? Making a differential diagnosis strictly from memory?  We should get bored.  Then we can start to improve it.

It’s when we are satisfied from “good enough” that we forget “doing better” is possible.

Programmable DNA Circuits Make Smart Cells a Reality – Sort of

… and imagine if you could program life itself.  Rather than 0’s and 1’s, you have four possibilities, a computing system performing quaternary arithmetics.

I still remember being dazzled as a freshman in college, during the first computer science lecture. The professor spoke of quantum computers, where improvements in speed of calculations can be measured in squaring time 2n rather than the traditional doubling time (i.e. Moore’s law) 2n.  And there was biologic computing, using simple building blocks of genetic material ACTG to perform calculations which take place in living cells.

Then, I spent the 15 years that follows writing them off as science fiction, pontifications of an old man.

I was, of course, wrong.

Continue reading

The Value of Knowing What Lies Ahead

When I was in 8th grade, my English teacher wanted to give everyone a book to take into high school.  She had a cardboard box full of various books. There was literary fiction like Toni Morrison.  There was a memory aid for American presidents. But I came to class really late that day, so by the time I went up to the box, there were only a few books left.  I had the great choice between Billy Budd (dryest. book. ever.), Atlas Shrugged, and this book called Getting Things Done.

I picked up Getting Things Done because Atlas Shrugged didn’t fit in my bookbag.   It would be years before I realized that self-help productivity books is in itself a major genre of nonfiction.  At the time it just didn’t make sense why anyone would need such pathologic level of compulsion to keep things organized.

Continue reading