Friday, May 25, 2007

I want a PlayStation 3 ... for research

Next time I go to visit some of my friends, I will pay more attention to their little black gaming devices, called PS3. It turns out the best computer processor of our times is used in it. It is the Cell Chip developed jointly by IBM, SONY and Toshiba. According to some very scientific study comparing the Cell Chip with conventionally designed chipset, the performance for chips with comparable clock speed are improved several folds. Compared to tens of thousands dollars for the blade system by IBM that uses the Cell Chip, the $600 dollar price tag of PS3 seems to be a better option for academic research.

Of course, it is not as simple as it sounds. The reason why the Cell Chip can be faster for high performance computing is its well-designed structure. I am not equipped with the right knowledge to explain this. It is said to be an IBM PowerPC processor with eight vector processor. I can only assume this means better paralell capacity and better efficiency in dealing with high volume computation. Therefore, it takes *VERY* professional programming to take advantage of its power. Until R was programmed to take advantage of such chips, I will keep my eyes on those Core Duo Quad chips.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I came across this website that allows you to organize citations online. I think it is pretty neat. Especially it has Bibtex format right on the screen.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's day spending

Men are more likely to spend money on Mother's day than women (in both percentage and amount). This is a fact but this is also a nice example of "confounding" for intro stats. I heard about this in the news (people were joking about this as a "mom's boy" phenomenon) but can't find that exact news article today. I found the data on Mother's day 2005 (a pretty neat collection of numbers). Here is the interesting part.

Celebrating Mother's day (i.e., buy gifts ... )

All 83%
Men 85%
Women 81.1%

Who do you plan to buy a Mother's Day gift for this
year? (Check all that apply)
(in the order of all, men, women)
Mother or Stepmother
65.2% 64.9% 65.3%
19.4% 39.8% ---

8.4% 4.9% 11.6%

7.4% 6.6% 8.0%

5.3% 3.9% 6.6%

5.7% 4.0% 7.2%

1.1% 0.8% 1.3%
Other relative

10.7% 5.5% 15.4%

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Divided opinion?

Anderson Copper 360 is a show on CNN that gives in-depth coverage of current events. In one of its recent airing, Anderson Copper discussed a question occurred during the recent Republican presidential debate: "do you believe in evolution?" One of the candidates added after the poll that he believed in evolution and also believed in God when watching things such as the sunset at Grand Canyon. Part of the results from a survey was then shown on the screen:
    • 48% believed in God
    • 13% believed in Evolution (God is not involved)

It was then concluded that we are living in a divided country.

I was confused ("confused" is the mostly used words during my office hours) by how the options are organized. Should there be

    1. believed in God (no evolution)
    2. believed in God (evolution exists as part of God's plan)
    3. believed in Evolution (God is involved)
    4. believed in Evolution (There is God but God is not involved)
    5. believed in Evolution (There is no God)

It may turns out not to be very divided at all with most of the percentage splitted among the middle options and only small percentages in the two extreme views.