Monthly Archives: January 2011

Why recommendation engines matter

“The Internet makes everything available, but mere availability is meaningless if the products remain unknown to potential buyers.” (possibly attributable to Gavin Potter, a Netflix Prize contestant; possibly to Jordan Ellenberg, who writes for Slate and Wired)

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Movie Ratings

Another unmeasurable distance is ★★★ movie ratings. Movie ratings are drawn from the set {★,★★,★★★,★★★★,★★★★★} and related by the total ordering >: ★★★★★ > ★★★★ ★★★★ > ★★★ ★★★ > ★★ ★★ > ★ and the transitivity of > gives … Continue reading

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Smoking in Bars

You know how there are smoking bans in various bars, pubs, and restaurants? How can the government do that? I mean, the location belongs to the proprietor. You know? edit: I know why they do it — I just mean, … Continue reading

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The Hotness Scale

One example of a total ordering ≤ is the “hotness” scale from 1–10. Because of the widespread disagreement about the meaning of the numbers, the only thing one can infer based on a man’s rating of a woman is that … Continue reading

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Unmeasurable Distances

I wrote earlier about the many different ways to measure distance. One way I didn’t include is unmeasurable distance. Sometimes A is tastier, sexier, cooler, more interesting, or otherwise better endowed than B … but it’s impossible to quantify by … Continue reading

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wowgreat: 95988-NebelWald_rund2_2-3 (by holger lippmann) (Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumicon/5373315597/#/photos/lumicon/5373315597/lightbox/)

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Theory is easy. Data are hard. Bill Becker 1 2

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