Friday, May 4, 2012

Stuff I'm reading on a Friday afternoon

When compile times bog down a bit, and there's the occasional minute for reading, I find myself reading some stuff on the Internet. Here's a sample from today:

  • Probabilistic Data Structures for Web Analytics and Data Mining
    In this article, I provide an overview of probabilistic data structures that allow one to estimate these and many other metrics and trade precision of the estimations for the memory consumption. These data structures can be used both as temporary data accumulators in query processing procedures and, perhaps more important, as a compact – sometimes astonishingly compact – replacement of raw data in stream-based computing.
  • Replicated/Fault-tolerant atomic storage
    There is this elegant algorithm for replicated/fault-tolerant atomic storage that I think every distributed systems researcher/developer should know about. It is simple and powerful. And, it is fun; I promise your brain will feel better about itself after you learn this majority replication algorithm.
  • Common statistical fallacies
    I've been reading papers on how people learn statistics (and thoughts on teaching the subject) and came across the frequently-cited work of mathematical psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. In 1972, they studied statistical misconceptions. It doesn't seem much has changed.
  • Bell’s-inequality-denialist Joy Christian offers me $200K if scalable quantum computers are built
    Like Gödel’s and Cantor’s Theorems, Bell’s Theorem has long been a lightning rod for incomprehension and even anger; I saw another “disproof” at a conference in 2003, and will doubtless see more in the future.
  • Notes on graph data management
    Interest in graph data models keeps increasing. But it’s tough to discuss them with any generality, because “graph data model” encompasses so many different things. Indeed, just as all data structures can be mapped to relational ones, it is also the case that all data structures can be mapped to graphs.
  • More fun with DateTime
    There's one piece of inherent date/time complexity you'll need to understand for this post to make sense: sometimes, a local date/time occurs twice. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to assume you're in the UK time zone. On October 28th 2012, at 2am local time (1am UTC), UK clocks will go back to 1am local time. So 1:20am local time occurs twice - once at 12:20am UTC (in daylight saving time, BST), and once at 1:20am UTC (in standard time, GMT).
  • Common Lisp: The Untold Story
    This paper summarizes a talk given at “Lisp50@OOPSLA,” the 50th Anniversary of Lisp workshop, Monday, October 20, 2008, an event co-located with the OOPSLA’08 in Nashville, TN, in which I offered my personal, subjective account of how I came to be involved with Common Lisp and the Common Lisp standard, and of what I learned from the process.

    The account highlights the role of luck in the way various details of history played out, emphasizing the importance of seizing and making the best of the chance opportunities that life presents. The account further underscores the importance of understanding the role of controlling influences such as funding and intellectual property in shaping processes and outcomes. As noted by Louis Pasteur, “chance favors the prepared mind.”

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