Category Archives: Business

Modeling

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when dealing with statistics is the vocabulary and the very intimidating use of Greek symbols in the equations …er models.

Modeling is something we all do in everyday living and decision making. It defines a pattern for something to happen or that has already happened.

Note: In the world of statistics, the latter is common during statistical analysis, while the former is in the planning stages for a study or in Predictive Statistics for business planning.

  • Time to Wake Up For Work.TTWUFW = Start Work At Time – (Morning Personal Prep Time + Drive Time To Work + Amount Of Buffer Time To Not Be Late).
  • Cost of groceries from the store.COGFTS = cost of all items purchased.

Each of these can be expanded to better approximate the actual outcomes.

Lets’ take the Time to leave For Work model as an example.

We ask ourselves when creating this model “What are the components that contribute or effect this outcome.

You just got hired for a new job across town and want to know what time do you need to wake up in the morning to arrive there at a comfortable time so you’re not late.

You begin working on your model based on what you know and make a list of the variables that affect the solution.

Variables:

We place the outcome on the left side of an equation then the equal sign and on the right side we list all the components that contribute or effect that outcome. We separate each component with a plus sign (+) showing it adds/contributes to the outcome.

If we wrote this out we would say…

What time do you need to wake up for work (TTWUFW) If you Start work at 8:00 am (SWAT) and it takes you 30 minutes morning prep time (MPPT) and it takes 20 minutes to drive to work (DTTW) and you like to be at work 15 minutes before you start working (AOBTTNBL).

In equation form using shortened labels for each component we get.

TTWUFW = SWAT + MMPPT + DTTW + AOBTTNBL

Wait that doesn’t look exactly like the first equation! You’re right but this is closer to the exact form for statistical model even though we all know from getting ready for work some things negatively contribute to the outcome. Let’s not worry about the exact form quite yet, we will return to that later.

In the model  for what time do you need to wake up for work  begin with what time do you need to start work and subtract from that all the component times  for each of the pre-work activities and the result is what time you need to wake up for work.

To get a more accurate “prediction” of when we need to leave for work we expand as best we can all of the components to include their actual parts and rewrite the equation.

TTWUFW = SWAT – ( Time to Shower + Time to Shave + Time for personal Hygiene + Time to Dress + Time for Breakfast/Coffee + Time to Warm up Car + Time for Drive to Work + Amount of Buffer to Not Be Late + Unknown Unplanned Event time)

There is a practical limit to how detailed your “model” needs to be but it is easy to see that the time used in any component effects what time you will need to wake up for work.

 

Fair Access to Publicly Funded Research Results

The EFF {Electronic Frontier Foundation} has an initiative to get public access to publically funded research.
I have mixed feeling on this issue.
On the one hand we as taxpayers have paid for this research to be funded and should have a right to read the research. We shouldn’t have to subscribe to extremely expensive research data stores that charge for access to the research, like we currently do. Not having to wait for the peer review journal process to publish research will mean faster and more current research availability. On that I agree.

BUT, much government funded research produces garbage because it was poorly executed, conceived or done with an agenda that is contrary to public good and truthfulness. Many people won’t be able to grasp how the data was analyzed as rarely is this disclosed fully in the research. The best system we currently have is the Academic or Peer Journal review process. This Peer review/rewrite process can be a multi-year process where the research results value diminishes on time critical research. But the value of Peers reviewing the research can save many from acting on research results of a bad piece of research.

Refer to the economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff article about “austerity” …”has shaped political decisions over the best way to deal with foundering economies.” Many governments have based financial strategies on this NON-Peer reviewed paper and less than 3 years after publication a Graduate student at Univ.of Mass. found math errors and omissions that some have said “the Reinhart/Rogoff claim was ideology, not social science.” [ibid]

Care should be taken when reviewing Research and Statistical Analysis. NEVER look at research as if it is a sound bite by a politician.
Still I think the public may have challenged the research quicker if there was government laws requiring disclosure.
To be fair to Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, they not only released their research to the doctoral student Thomas Herndon, he said on The Colbert Report talk show recently they also sent him the original spreadsheets that they had used in the calculations and it was on page one near the top where Thomas Herndon found the math error. Proof of the value of Peer Review.

I include below the text of the message that is sent to your representaives in Washington.:
As your constituent, I am urging you to support the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research Act (FASTR is S. 350 in the
Senate and H.R. 708 in the House).

Government agencies like the National Science Foundation invest millions of taxpayer dollars into scientific research every year, but the resulting research is locked up in expensive journals. As a result students and citizens have difficulty accessing information they need; professors have a harder time reviewing and teaching the state of the art; and cutting-edge research remains hidden.

FASTR fixes this. The bill makes government agencies design and implement a plan to facilitate public access to the results of their investments. Any researcher who receives federal funding must submit a copy of resulting journal articles to the funding agency, which will then make that research widely available within six months.

Please secure our rights as taxpayers and promote the progress of science by supporting FASTR.

If YOU would like to let your Representative in Washington D.C. know you support passage of this Bill you can have a email sent to your representatives by going to this web address. Tell my representative I want Publically Funded Research Available to the Public. Just enter in your zip codein the box on the right side, it will look up who your representatives are and send to them.

For California there is additional Initiative you can Let your representatives know by clicking Here to let california representatives Know I want state funded research to be available to the public