This is the season of graduation activities at IHME and UW. Congrats to my colleagues completing their fellowships!
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Last week we had a talk from Rodrigo Moreno-Serra on Universal health coverage, equity, and health outcomes. This research used instrumental variables to show that universal health coverage is good for health. One day I will understand instrumental variables—I think there should be a simple way to explain it to combinatorialists who know some epidemiology.
My grad school colleague Jure Leskovec was at UW recently, talking about a cool new model for clusters in random graphs. It was part generative model, and part statistical model, and made me miss my grad school days when I spent long hours proving theorems about such things. This statistical part of his model has a very forced acronym: BigCLAM, and also a software implementation: https://github.com/snap-stanford/snap/tree/master/examples/bigclam
Maybe one day I’ll get to do some applied network research for global health, and have a chance to use this.
The semester is starting up again, and that means that weekly IHME seminars are starting up again. This week, we heard from Joel Kaufman, a doctor and UW professor who knows quite a lot about how air pollution is bad for the heart. He had some great historical photos of air pollution from the Great Smog of London, which I had not heard of before. Searching later led me to this collection in the Guardian. Dr. Kaufman also had some recent photos of extreme air pollution, which looked sort of like this one.
I remember when I started this blog, I had a goal to draw connections between the issues in global health and the methods and results of theoretical computer science. What does the air-pollution/cardio-health talk inspire along these lines? Well, there are two “big data” sources going on here: continuously updated measurements of air quality from a number of geographically dispersed sensors, and regularly conducted CT scans of participants in a large longitudinal study. It was only an hour long talk, so I’m not sure what problems arise when you put these things together, but I bet you can’t store it all in memory, even on a pretty large computer. And that’s one definition of big…
I’ve been doing this for about a year now, and it is working super-well. What I wish for is a way to paste images directly into the notebook. I think it would be pretty easy to add but I haven’t figured out how to do it yet.
I had a fun little project a while back, to deal with some night noise that was getting in the way of my sleep. Active noise reduction, hacked together in Python. It really works (for me)! There is tons of room for improvement, and at least one interested party. I’m finally pushing it out into the world, so maybe someone will improve it.