Category Archives: general

Understanding the Elsevier Boycott

Hello Dear Readers,

Can someone help me quickly get up to speed on the Elsevier boycott? I’ve had a read through and even skimmed through Tim Gower’s statement of purpose. What I’m missing is what are the demands of this boycott? I’m delighted to have an excuse to refuse a request for refereeing, but how can my boycott be genuine about this if Elsevier has no way to make things right?


Filed under general

Long day, but there are longer

I had a long day today, but it’s nothing compared to my brother-in-law. He just went to Greenland. The sun doesn’t set there for months! He’s got some great pictures from his trip. It’s not all pretty pictures, though. There’s a new volcanic ash cloud floating his way, which means serious delays on his lost luggage. He has a great internet connection there, so he’ll be able to see how many page views his blog is getting, so go take a look, maybe a lot of web traffic will distract him from the fact that he has only one pair of underwear in a 1000 mile radius.

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Big Week for Healthy Algorithms Posts

I’ve been in meetings literally all day, but I’ve got so much to say that I’m still here… this is a newsletter that IHME put out yesterday, and it’s got me in the front cover photo. How can I pass up announcing that? It’s mostly for my mom, but PyMC fans might also appreciate the shoutout I managed to Anand Patil, who authored the PyMC Gaussian Process package that I’ve been urging people to use lately.


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I ♥ my new commute

I’ve been away from the keyboard, and that’s because I’ve been moving. But it’s the last time for a while, because Jessi and I are not renters anymore. Yay!

And bonus, I love my new commute. The Seattle waterfront is a nice thing to see everyday, even if it’s sometimes overcast:


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@healthyalgo is twittering

I guess I’m one to follow the latest fads. I have a blog, right?

I held off even considering “Twitter” for a long time, however. Who cares what I’m doing, right now, in 140 characters?

But that’s not actually what twitter is about (at least its not all that twitter is about). It’s more like having an IRC chat room, but in a public park. But the fauna is synthetic.

Anyway, I’m giving it a try. You can see how it’s going for me here.

My ego does depend a little bit on how many “followers” I have, but I’ve got practice dealing with this. When I was a college radio deejay, I usually had no idea if anyone was listening out there in radio land, so I’d put on my most depressive college radio voice, get on the mic and ask for callers. Then while I waited to see if anyone would call in, I’d dedicate this song to myself:

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Filed under general, videos

On Gaza

I need a break from the health and algorithms posts for a second, to include something about the situation in Palestine. For the last two weeks, the hot war has been on my mind too much. I can’t keep writing about math movies and python tutorials without acknowledging it. Continue reading


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Best of the Year

I didn’t make any best-of-the-year lists, but I support the idea. I also support new year’s resolutions, but I’m not going to write about mine.

But the internet picks up the slack.

FlowingData has a 5 Best Data Vis of the year list, which I’m fond of. It includes the beautiful Streamgraphs of Byron and Wattenberg. Their technical report has some fun applications of combinatorial optimization to aesthetics.

Streamgraph at the box office

Lance Fortnow has a nice Complexity Year in Review on the Computational Complexity Blog. Unfortunately, I don’t have a beautiful illustration of Prasad’s result that Unique Games Conjecture implies semidefinite relaxations have optimal approximation ratios.


Filed under combinatorial optimization, general, TCS

Health metrics a gold-mine for applications of theory

Is there a metaphor which doesn’t glorify mineral extraction?

Gold Mine Hadal Awatib

Gold Mine Hadal Awatib

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Hello world of TCS

I’m Abraham Flaxman, formerly a post-doc with the MSR Theory Group, and, more formerly, a grad student in ACO at CMU.  I’ve recently received a great opportunity to go in a more applied direction with my research during a post-doc at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at UW  ( “What the heck is that?”, you wonder.  I promise a complete recounting in a future post.)

I’m going to join the world of blogging to share all the interesting applications of computer science theory to global health metrics.  It turns out that there are plenty;  certainly more than I can take on alone.  Stay tuned.


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