What we’ve been reading: February

Our society members are university students and therefore, do a lot of reading!

Here are some of the most interesting things we’ve read and shared for the month of February (which was quite a bookish month). You can see January’s picks here.

Iowa Caucus vote
Results via Google.

Like many of us looking nervously across the pond at the prospect of an electoral run by someone with worse hair than Boris Johnson, Adam posted New Scientist’s article about how Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucus using Facebook data driven microtargeting, borrowing techniques from President Obama’s reelection strategy. Often hailed as the future of campaigning, microtargeting campaigns still have significant hurdles to overcome, such as boors with a proverbial megaphone and no concept of the phrase ‘bad press’.


Analytics Vidhya header
Graphic header, from Analyticsvidhya.com.

Myrian posted an article from Analytics Vidhya by Kunal Jain, who made a great graphic summarising 20 lessons a data scientist needs to master. Jain learnt these over a space of 10 years so do not think you need to grasp these over the summer, but particularly interesting is their division into two categories: data science is only half the battle, but non technical lessons such as knowing your business and remembering to practice your techniques and learn new ones as they emerge.


Taxi pickups and drop offs, Todd Schneider
Todd Schneider’s map of Pickups and Dropoffs in New York.

Matt posted Todd Schneider’s wonderfully detailed investigation into Uber usage in New York. Schneider examines the different subcultures of the city and gathers insight on their lives simply though this single aspect (taxi rides), such as most bankers getting to work between 7 and 8am, and understanding whether or not that chase in Die Hard with a Vengeance was really such a nightmare. Schneider’s other work with big data sets include a diverse range of subject from mortgages to marriages to gambling, all presented in a clear and often humorous way that carries even newcomers to data right through to the end of analyses.


Earth Weather Map
Current wind conditions at 500 hPa, or roughly 5,000 km altitude.

Lastly, Louisa posted a link to a real time interactive weather map of Earth, created by Cameron Beccario. Beccario’s map is one of the most impressive weather visualisations available online, knitting together a vast array of data sources (e.g. NASA’s Goddard centre data on chemicals and particulates; NOAA data on global weather) and presenting them as a mesmerising map with many filters allowing you to change altitude or focus, such as wind speed, ocean currents, particulate density or even the type of map projection to use.


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