31 October 2016

Sweet 16

Regular reader might remember Bill Gates' comment that nobody would ever need more 640K. Turns out he's been shown to be right, yet again. Regular reader might also remember my often musing that Intel (and others) could have opted to use the fast growing transistor budgets to implement the X86 ISA(s) directly in hardware. But chose to go the RISC machine fronted by a JIT (sort of, anyway) "decoder" avenue.

Well, today we find this story explaining why Bill was basically right. You want more speed? Do the work with less cpu. Who knew? Well, me.
To reduce those energy demands, the researchers demonstrated how they used a conventional Intel chip and turned off half of its circuitry devoted to what engineers call mathematical precision. Then they "reinvested" the savings to improve the quality of the computed result.

Did they run down to merely 16 bits? Could be.
He suggested trading off precision to make dramatic gains in computing efficiency.

26 October 2016

Thought For The Day, 26 October 2016

The latest in The Donald's mindless jabbering is the execution of "oversampling" in polls. As any drug developer knows, with enough observations one can find stat sig in a ham sandwich. That's what oversampling does: narrows the CI/lowers p-value. It doesn't change the point estimate one way or the other systematically. Oversampling won't make The Donald look like a bigger loooooser or Hillary a bigger winner. It will only solidify the accuracy of the point estimate. Moreover, the technique isn't, on the whole, used in public facing polls, but by campaign's internal polls where it wants more accurate estimates of sub-groups known/suspected of being heterogeneous.

So, I just did a simple search, and lo and behold, Pew Research (The Donald's source of oversampling evil) had this to say:
Oversampling is the practice of selecting respondents so that some groups make up a larger share of the survey sample than they do in the population. Oversampling small groups can be difficult and costly, but it allows polls to shed light on groups that would otherwise be too small to report on.

Even the non-brained dead rightist organs (or some anyway) know the truth.
The conservative blogosphere is lighting up again with accusations of polling bias against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in his race against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. However, Trump supporters should avoid giving into this temptation to assume unfavorable results must be biased results. Clinton really is leading Trump, and by nearly 6 percentage points.
[June, 2016]

25 October 2016

Treading Water, part the second

Well, the NYT has finally caught up with these endeavors. As mused here more than once, The Giant Pool of Money is still out there, and continues to grow. Landon Thomas reports the extent, but fails to direct the reader to the elephant in the room: the CxO class has run out of ways to turn fiduciary capital into profitable physical capital. Fiduciary investing is just Ponzi with ribbons.
"Asia and Europe keep exporting their savings to the rest of the world," said Brad W. Setser, an expert in global financial flows who worked at the United States Treasury from 2011 to 2015. "All this money sloshing around looking for a home is not healthy -- it indicates a real lack of demand in other parts of the global economy."

IOW, the idle rich keep demanding real return rates of interest for their idle cash. Not going to happen.
"It has really caused spreads to move," [Ken Monaghan, who oversees high-yield bonds for the global fund manager Amundi Smith Breeden] said, using Wall Street jargon to describe what happens when the interest rates of these bonds decrease as investors pile in. "We are seeing institutional investors come to us and ask for levels of risk that they have never asked for before."

Only when the CxO class figure out how to generate real growth in physical investment will there be real growth in the global economy. It helps if that growth ends up in the hands of the 99%.

23 October 2016

Brexit, part the Second

A couple of notes on Brexit.

Peter S. Goodman wrote a few weeks ago on the impact of the divorce on London's financial industry.
"There were the people who thought Brexit would be reversed," [ Adam S. Posen] continued. "There were the people who delusionally thought there would be a soft Brexit, and all the northern Europeans would be nice to them. And there were people who believed that this crew in charge of the British negotiations were somehow going to strike a good deal. All of the delusions have run out of material."

And, in a couple of minutes, Bourdain will be surveying The City, as it is called, to see what the mood is post-Brexit vote. Judging from the many bumpers CNN has run, it's not likely cheery.

The Joker

Regular reader may have noted an absence from these endeavors over the last week or so. Was off on the island, sans computer, which wouldn't make much difference since the island has, on a good day, arthritic innterTubes service. It does, thanks be to God, get newspapers delivered each morning on the boat. But the boat doesn't have a consistent schedule over the week. Sometimes the newspapers arrive in mid-morning, others nearer to noon. Since I'm on the island once a year, generally, memorizing said schedule isn't a big priority. Yesterday was going back to the mainland day (sniff!), and the later arrival of my beloved NYT. Since this is after even a late breakfast, I toddle on down to the grocery and end up waiting for the bundles to arrive. This week finds a couple of other geezers (only geezers read from dead trees; or perhaps only geezers read) often joining me for the bundles of joy.

So, yesterday I was there when the stock person wheeled in the basket of bundles, not off wandering. One of the geezers got his New York Post, which came off the top of the bundles. The stocker took his time digging through the bundles. The geezer allowed that his beloved Mets had failed in this year, which led me to remark, "what a contrast; Trump and the Mets!!". For those not of the tri-state area, the New York tabloids are not all of the right. Just the Post. The Daily News is even more rabidly anti-Trump than the Times. Who knew? Well, the other geezer. While waiting for the Times to reach the surface, he offered up the following story of his own creation.

Trump has won the election (I know, it's a nightmare story) and is settling in to the White House. The first night he just can't fall asleep, so is pacing about the residence.

In due time he spies the apparition of George Washington approach him. Not quite scared, but desperate for relief, he asks President Washington for advice; how to get to sleep. Washington responds, "Donald, you should increase your defense forces. The people will support your efforts." Trump thanks Washington, wanders to the bedroom, and does fall blissfully to sleep.

The next night, same problem. Same pacing, but different president appears. This time it's Jefferson. And Trump poses his problem yet again. Jefferson offers, "Donald, you should give much added support to education. The people will support your efforts." As before, Trump manages to sleep.

The third night, still that problem. Yet another president joins him with advice. It is Lincoln who offers, "Donald, go to the theater."


10 October 2016

GOP Triage

Some time before the 2010 mid-terms, I chatted with "tech" folks at the DNC about the, by then obvious, problem: the RNC and the Kochs and such had taken control of Washington by the simple expedient of taking over state governments. Moreover, the threat to participatory democracy was greater than it seemed, since controlling state senates, and then Washington Senators, became rule by the right wing Elite. The states that have been taken over are in the South and Mountain West; rural, God, Guns, and No Abortion knee jerks.

I don't know whether it's been accepted as standard jargon, but Gore was hurt by the electoral college by "over votes", which happen in large population states that are strongly partisan. Those states are overwhelming Democratic, while the Republican skewed states are of much smaller population. Over votes occur when the popular vote for the candidate in a large population state greatly exceeds 50%. Such a pattern is sometimes called "wasted votes". The electoral winner ends up with close margins in small states, wiped out in large states, but enough small state wins to reach the 270 needed. What the Southern founders wanted: rule by the landed gentry.

My chat with the DNC, on a method to triage campaign spending at the state level so as to not get shellacked, fell on deaf ears. A bit later, the nice folks at simple-talk posted the approach as an article. And the Republicans have continued to hose the Democrats in the mid-term and down-ticket races.

Until now. Lots of reporting stating that the GOP Elite have recognized what has been mused in these pages for months: King Donald of Orange threatens to drive both houses of Congress to the Democrats. If any of you dear readers are of the knee jerk right, you'd best not ignore the problem, or you'll lose not only the three elected branches of government, but Garland will be pulled off the table and Obama will be up for the Supremes, and he'll get in. Is a little bit of pussy worth the price?

08 October 2016

Brexitation

In keeping with a few musings in previous postings to these endeavors, both quant and historical analysis in the wake of the Brexit vote concluded that nothing good would come of the effort for most Brits. A few months along, and that appears to be the case. Surprise. Give it a read, but for those who aren't interested, here's the punchline:
The stakes are considerable. Britain ships nearly half its exports to other European Union members.
...
this misses the fact that nearly one-third of the goods and services consumed in Britain are imported. In dollar terms, the price of those goods and services is spiking. Eventually, economists assume, this inflation will work its way through the economy, further depressing growth by crimping consumer spending and potentially sowing unemployment.

Germany and France have made it clear that the Brits won't get to have their cake (free trade) and eat it (immigration wall) too. Although Boris Johnson says:
Our policy is having our cake and eating it.

Not bloody likely Boris.

Game, Set, Match

Some years ago, Joe Celko published "Joe Celko's Thinking in Sets", which, IIRC, was mostly about auxilliary functionality. Today, the SQLServerCentral folks have posted a more on-point article about set-theoritic SQL/database processes. Very cool.
In this article, I'll try to show the difference between a RBAR loop, a recursive CTE and a set-based loop. When the latter was applied to a real life problem, it improved performance of a query that ran for over 25 hours and wasn't able to complete, to a query that finished in two minutes. The table had over 15 million rows and was constantly growing.

Even if you're not a SS user, and I've not been for a few years, the discussion is worth the effort. All RDBMS worth your time implement a decent CTE, so, modulo syntax, it's all transferable. If the discussion sounds a bit like the [x]apply functions in R, well, it is.

06 October 2016

My Dear Lou [clarified]

OK, so back in the mid-60s, my musical taste went to what we would likely today call "adult contemporary folk", which was saloon singers doing Pete Seeger style songs; a sort of folk music despised by true believers. My favorite brand was "The Limeliters", a trio of late 30-somethings. Not many of my peers had heard of them, except possibly from myriad commercials, and not knowing who the singers were. Only one of the trio still lives.

A few minutes ago, during the usual horrible Thursday NFL game, I watched the commercial for "Mafia III", and was shocked. After the trio disbanded in 1963, they later had some reunion concerts and recordings in the 70s and 80s. One of their gigs was to record "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" by Charles Larson as part of a songwriting competition.

Somehow the producers of "Mafia III" found the tape, and sampled out Lou Gottlieb's phrasing of the tagline, "but nobody, aaah nobody wants to die". Gottlieb died in 1996, way too soon.
The idea is to make "Nobody Wants to Die" available for download, though details are still being worked out.

That would be so cool. A 70s reunion of a 60s trio doing a songwriting contest winner (sung by an aging Jew, since, of course, the Jewish religion offers neither heaven nor hell) backing a 2016 video game which thinks the song is from the 60s. Only in America could such a confluence of irony happen.

I Wanna Be Like Donald

This is one of many, I suspect, similar pieces claiming everybody can be like King Donald of Orange: lose money this year and deduct it against income in future years. If you go and read the article, you'll find that the ability is available only to those who conduct business for income, not those who earn wages.

But, guess what? It was under Reagan that the ability of ordinary wage earners to avail themselves of something similar, called income averaging, was removed. Reagan, the man of the ordinary people. Of course.
An existing provision in the tax code, called Income Averaging, which reduced taxes for those only recently making a much higher salary than before, was eliminated (although later partially reinstated, for farmers in 1997 and for fishermen in 2004).

Not too surprising that the Right's usual suspects got their access to the provision restored.

Thought For The Day - 6 October 2016

Well, another example of the Right meets "Lord of the Flies". Couldn't happen to nicer folks. And may be the Red environs of FL will be visited by (St.) Matthew twice. Ditto.
Apparently some colleagues challenged Woolfe over his vacillating stance on UKIP during Thursday's meeting, and it escalated into an argument and then a fight with one man in particular. The two reportedly removed their jackets and stepped out of the meeting room into a hallway, where Sky says the still-unidentified UKIP member punched Woolfe once, which caused him to fall back and hit his head on a pole.

Redneck on redneck violence. Our South has been living with it since the Scots and Irish invaded 300 years ago.
Author (and U.S. Senator) Jim Webb puts forth a thesis in his book Born Fighting to suggest that the character traits he ascribes to the Scotch-Irish such as loyalty to kin, extreme mistrust of governmental authority and legal strictures, and a propensity to bear arms and to use them, helped shape the American identity.

I wonder? Will they suppress their hated of "governmental authority" to vote for King Donald of Orange? A King for their side just might be an OK form of authority.

05 October 2016

Those Stupid Socialist Europeans

The main argument by The Right against anything Left is that European Socialism is failed and can't do anything right. Much of Europe's problems stem from its willingness to accept Middle East refugees in numbers that are nearly an order of magnitude more than the supposed beacon of freedom. There's nothing stupid about socialists; they're just not as personally greedy as King Donald of Orange and his ilk.

For those on the Northeast coast, hurricane Matthew has been of some concern, since we don't get hurricanes all that often, and when we do they tend to wreak a bit of havoc. So, knowing the future path is a frequent concern; some of us watch the weatherperson religiously. These weatherpeople display the official Hurricane Center path, and some show long term (in hurricane life terms) paths. The two most watched are referred to as GFS, which is US made, and the European, which is from Europe. For many days, the GFS had the storm skirting the coast to the Carolinas, and thence someplace in the genral vicinity of New England. The European had it making a hard right turn, somewhere between the Bahamas and the Carolinas. As of last night's news, the hurricane center path was a bit farther south of Cape Cod than previously, tracking the GFS. The European still had that hard right.

Just checked the 8 AM NOAA update, and behold, Matthew gets to pulverise Florida and thence Bermuda; well, may be. Offshore money launders; one of the deeper rings in Dante's Hell.

Amongst the quant crowd meteorology is up there with nuclear bomb design: lots of number crunching and such. The two models under consideration are considered the equation solving type: input the initial conditions in the environment, then calculate step by step based on the equations.
The best hurricane forecasting models we have are "global" models that solve the mathematical equations governing the behavior of the atmosphere at every point on the globe. Models that solve these equations are called "dynamical" models. The four best hurricane forecast models--ECMWF, GFDL, GFS, and UKMET--are all global dynamical models. These models take several hours to run on the world's most advanced supercomputers.

Other types of models are more or less pure data, time series analysis on steroids.

Our quants keep getting bested by their European forebears.

01 October 2016

The Inscrutable Chinese

For some long years, clinical trials conducted ex-US have been viewed with suspicion, not always veiled. Now, the Chinese government reveals the depth of the perfidy.
China's food and drug regulator recently carried out a one-year review of clinical trials, concluding that more than 80 percent of clinical data is "fabricated," state media reported.

According to reporting, some 80% of the active ingredients (API) in US drugs are sourced from India and China.
"I don't think that the 80 percent figure is overstated," Luo said. "If you compare Western pharmaceuticals manufactured overseas with those manufactured in China, there is a huge difference in the ingredients; the quality of the China-made drugs is appalling."

The real question is: how much of the US-bound API is unqualified? We may never know. One review of clinicaltrials.gov (the FDA's archive) showed 8365 entries citing "China" in the record. Oops. Such trials aren't necessarily exclusively conducted in China.

US FDA has been paying some attention.
Twelve out of the 19 overseas FDA warnings issued in 2015 by the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) for cGMP violations were delivered to Indian facilities.

There are no patriots in capitalism's CxO suites.