The Most Dangerous Equation, or Why Small is Not Beautiful!


Over one billion dollars have been spent in the US to split up big schools into smaller ones because small schools regularly show up in rankings as top performers.

In this post, I will show you why that money was wasted because of a widespread (but not so well known) statistical artifact, so read on!
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The Pólya Urn Model: A simple Simulation of “The Rich get Richer”


What is the “opposite” of sampling without replacement? In a classical urn model sampling without replacement means that you don’t replace the ball that you have drawn. Therefore the probability of drawing that colour becomes smaller. How about the opposite, i.e. that the probability becomes bigger? Then you have a so-called Pólya urn model!

Many real-world processes have this self-reinforcing property, e.g. leading to the distribution of wealth or the number of followers on social media. If you want to learn how to simulate such a process with R and encounter some surprising results, read on!
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The “Youth Bulge” of Afghanistan: The Hidden Force behind Political Instability


In view of the current dramatic events in Afghanistan many wonder why the extensive international efforts to bring some stability to the country have failed so miserably.

In this post, we will present and analytically examine a fascinating theory that seems to be able to explain political (in-)stability almost mono-causally, so read on!
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Fame: Is Becoming a Star Written in the Stars?


I sometimes joke that as an Aries I don’t believe in zodiac signs. But could there still be some pattern, e.g. in the sense that people born in spring are more prone to success than those born during the winter months?

In this post, we will provide a definitive answer with one of the most fascinating datasets I have ever encountered, so read on!
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Recidivism: Identifying the Most Important Predictors for Re-offending with OneR


In 2018 the renowned scientific journal science broke a story that researchers had re-engineered the commercial criminal risk assessment software COMPAS with a simple logistic regression (Science: The accuracy, fairness, and limits of predicting recidivism).

According to this article, COMPAS uses 137 features, the authors just used two. In this post, I will up the ante by showing you how to achieve similar results using just one simple rule based on only one feature which is found automatically in no-time by the OneR package, so read on!
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Cupid’s Arrow: How to Boost your Chances at Speed Dating!


During our little break, Valentine’s Day was celebrated. Yet for many, it was a depressing day because they are single and are looking for love.

Speed dating is a popular format (in times of Covid-19 also in virtual form) to meet many different potential soul mates in a short period of time. If you want to learn which factors determine “getting to the next round”, read on!
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How to be Successful! The Role of Risk-taking: A Simulation Study


When you ask successful people for their advice on how to become successful you will often hear that you have to take risks, often huge risks.

In this post we will examine whether this is good advice with a simple multi-agent simulation, so read on!
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How to Catch a Thief: Unmasking Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme with Benford’s Law

One of my starting points into quantitive finance was Bernie Madoff’s fund. Back then because Bernie was in desperate need of money to keep his Ponzi scheme running there existed several so-called feeder funds.

One of them happened to approach me to offer me a once in a lifetime investment opportunity. Or so it seemed. Now, there is this old saying that when something seems too good to be true it probably is. If you want to learn what Benford’s law is and how to apply it to uncover fraud, read on!
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COVID-19: Analyze Mobility Trends with R


The global lockdown has slowed down mobility considerably. This can be seen in the data produced by our ubiquitous mobile phones.

Apple is kind enough to make those anonymized and aggregated data available to the public. If you want to learn how to get a handle on those data and analyze trends with R read on!
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