Recommended: The Reinhart-Rogoff error – or how not to Excel at economics

There has been a lot written about how lousy Microsoft Excel (and other spreadsheet products) are at data management, but the warning sinks in so much more effectively when you can cite an example where the use of Excel leads to an embarrassing retraction. Perhaps the best example is the paper by Carmen Reinhart and Peter Rogoff where a major conclusion was invalidated when a formula inside their Excel spreadsheet accidentally included only 15 of the relevant 20 countries. Here’s a nice description of that event and some suggestions on how to avoid this in the future. Continue reading

Recommended: Statistical and Machine Learning forecasting methods: Concerns and ways forward

At first glance, you might think that this article looks like a vindication of traditional statistics. Classical time series models (methods that were available in the 1960′s) outperform newer machine language forecasting models. Then, you might worry that the comparisons were unfair. But neither viewpoint is accurate. The classical time series models have certain structural advantages for certain types of problems, but you might be better off with machine learning if you use classical time series as a preprocessing step, such as de-seasonalizing your data. If nothing else, this article provides a nice overview of some of the major machine learning methods. Continue reading

PMean: My teaching interests, one page limit

I have been applying to a variety of jobs, and some of them, mostly universities, want a statement of teaching philosophy, research interests, or some combination. I enjoy writing these, except for the ones that have page limits. In this and the next few blog posts, I will share what I wrote. If you read these, it might give you a better idea of what I do at my current and previous jobs and what I would like to do in a future job. Here’s a one page limit statement on my teaching interests and experience. It won’t be one page on my blog because of formatting differences, of course, but it will be brief than I like. Continue reading

Recommended: To combat physician burnout and improve care, fix the electronic health record

This article is a nice counterbalance to all the glowing reports about how moving to the electronic health record is going to revolutionize health care. This effort certainly has value, but it comes at a cost. The article talks about the improvements needed to the crude 1990s interface and how to avoid overburdening the medical record with extraneous data. Continue reading