The Main House

An ephemeral intentional community outside of Taos, NM

Seventeen people. Three months. A property in the middle of nowhere. And a vision of testing what organizing a co-living space would be like, without the need to commit to buying a property or even signing a lease.

What started as a vague idea to rent a small cabin close to a ski resort turned into a multi-month experiment in communal living, with heaps of joy, lots of lessons, and an almost unbelievable number of spreadsheets. It’s been a dream of mine to organize a communal living situation at some point ever since I became a member of the University…

From Kevin Ang at Unsplash

Are you building a data-driven web application that needs to serve data to your users with low latencies? Are you using MySQL, Postgres, or another traditional RDBMS as the backend for that web application? If so, you’re inevitably going to run into scalability issues as your dataset expands and your usage demands grow. These scalability issues will result in massive performance degradations for your users if you don’t find a solution that scales to meet your growing needs. …

From Tobias Fischer at Unsplash

The importance of great data visualization

All too often, outsiders think that the job of data analysts and scientists is just number-crunching. Those of us who have actually practiced the science and art of extracting insights from data know that the job is at least as creative as it is analytical. The role of the data team within an organization is fundamentally to tell stories with data. Why, then, do so many data teams fail to employ the most powerful communication tool available to them?

Even seasoned data scientists often relegate data visualization to the exploratory stages of data analysis. They fail to use dataviz in…

These three data viz pitfalls, which have proliferated during the pandemic, are instructive for data designers and consumers alike

To paraphrase a popular idiom: there are lies, damn lies, and data visualizations. This saying holds especially true in times of high pressure, such as in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In these uncertain times, rational people turn to data to help inform their opinions and decisions. Unfortunately, even intelligent people can fall victim to logical fallacies, cognitive biases, and creative misrepresentations, especially when the stakes are high.

And data visualizations are especially prone to misrepresentation and abuse. Data visualizations are powerful tools for communicating about data, and with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why it’s incredibly…

Stop using his books to attack socialist policies

I’ve gotten into more than my fair share of internet debates. I have strong opinions about everything from superior voting systems (instant-runoff voting) to the right level of "doneness" for steaks (medium rare but on the rarer side; this is a hill I will die on). This means that I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life re-typing the same arguments into Facebook comment sections.

And one particular argument that I consistently find myself getting sucked into is when someone posts a George Orwell quote to support an argument that Orwell himself would have strongly disagreed with. In particular, people…

As somebody who has been lucky enough to get to travel abroad, I often find friends approaching me asking for general travel tips. I find most pieces of general travel advice to be too simplistic; they usually paint with broad brushstrokes and end up being irrelevant or even harmful. But there is one piece of advice that I give to every American (sorry foreign friends, this isn’t for you) who wants to travel abroad: get a Charles Schwab checking account. (Note: if you use this link, you get a free $100 bonus once you sign up.) …

From the StackOverflow Developer Survey

Why the UCLA stats department needs to introduce a Python and SQL course to supplement our R classes

Update: We did it! I met with the Chair of the Statistics Department (Professor Mark Handcock) and he told me that (barring any unexpected hurdles) starting in Spring of 2018 the eminently qualified Miles Chen will likely be teaching a new course “Data Technologies” (STATS 131). This course will cover relevant new technologies, including Python, SQL, and distributed computing. Professor Handcock specifically told me that it was in large part thanks to a push from the undergraduate student body that this new class is being set up so good work team! A special thanks needs to also be extended to…

A review (with some spoilers)

Seveneves: A Novel

I grew up reading the Big Three science fiction writers: Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. As a young nerd, I loved that these science fiction writers emphasized the science part of science fiction, rather than the science fantasy we usually see today. Neal Stephenson harkens back to this truly scientific style of science fiction in his most recent book: Seveneves. In this review I will give you an idea of what this book has in store for you, without spoiling too many of the important plot points.

Neal Stephenson has always been great at weaving in real information (scientific and otherwise)…

Some last minute fine-tuning out on the patio

My experience from DataFest 2016

This past weekend I had a blast at UCLA’s DataFest 2016. My team and I tackled a challenging problem: if TicketMaster were to consider a pricing recommendation system, what variables should they use to set the price? My team consisted of João Teixeira (Math/Econ, 5th year), his younger brother Joaquim Teixeira (Math/Econ, 3rd year), Samad Patel (Stats, 2nd year), Alibek Danyalov (Math of Computation, 3rd year), and myself. We named ourselves “Bayesian Bros Everywhere, UCLA” in reference to a Childish Gambino lyric we’d each heard about a million times while attending UCLA.

We decided to explore the possibility of using…

A review of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma isn’t just a book — it’s a journey. The author, Michael Pollan, sets off to explore the titular omnivore’s dilemma, which can be briefly summarized as “what should we have for dinner”. He divides the book into four sections (the “four meals” from the subtitle), wherein each section explores a different food chain via narrative. In the first section, the author explores the modern industrial food system by following the life of a cow from birth to slaughter. In the second, he explores the emerging production of organic-industrial foods by tracing the historical development of the organic…

Danny D. Leybzon

Data Specialist, Reading Enthusiast, Amateur Adventurer

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