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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Old math reveals new secrets about these alluring flowers | Science - National Geographic

A model developed by Alan Turing can help explain the spots on these astoundingly diverse flowers—and many other natural patterns as well, as Katherine J. Wu, Boston-based science journalist reports.

The monkeyflower species Mimulus pictus, with a unique pattern displayed on the petals.
Scientists who study monkeyflowers sometimes feel as though the plants are looking back at them. The blooms are said to resemble the faces of playful monkeys—hence the name—complete with a speckled central region that looks like a gaping mouth, helping bees zero in on their nectar-rich targets.

“It's like a friendly smile indicating safe harbor for pollinators,” says Benjamin Blackman, a plant biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. By attracting these pollinating insects, the speckled petals help ensure the plants will go on to bloom another day.
“The color contrast makes pollination more efficient, more effective,” says Yaowu Yuan, a biologist at the University of Connecticut... 

Mimulus mysteries
With models that simulate the colorful clash between activator and repressor, Yuan and Blackman can reproduce the freckles of Mimulus plants. But there’s almost certainly more to the story. “It’s a simple model,” Yuan says. “But if I’ve learned anything in biology, it’s that … in a real biological system, it’s never going to be as simple as that. The details will always be different.”

Source: National Geographic

Numeracy skills remain the key to a better life | Opinion - City A.M.

Fiona McDonnell, Director of Customer Retail at Amazon UK explains, As a parent under lockdown, I count myself among the many thousands of people who have added ‘home schooling’ to their list of responsibilities at home, at least temporarily. I take my hat off to teachers who do this normally. 

Photo: via Getty Images
Reflecting on the way we educate children and engage them in a subject like numeracy, many more of us will have become aware of the challenges involved in building and maintaining core skills. These are skills which set the next generation on a path into the future world of work.

But as we celebrate National Numeracy Day, I was reminded of some shocking statistics about the reality of numeracy in the UK.

Independent charity National Numeracy reported that low numeracy costs the economy around £3.2bn per year, nearly half of all working-age adults have the numeracy level of a primary school child, and three quarters of working adults would struggle to pass a maths GCSE.

That represents a serious challenge for both employers and employees alike – especially when considering the extent to which numeracy underpins the technology that shapes the modern world...

At the same time, maths plays a role in all our everyday lives. You might be measuring the front room for a new sofa, budgeting the weekly food shop or splitting the bill over dinner. Good numeracy also helps us find the best deals on financial products like mortgages, business loans and insurance.

So to build a strong workforce of numeracy-empowered people, we all need to take action both collectively and individually.  
Read more

Source: City A.M.

The healing power of data: Florence Nightingale’s true legacy | Statistics - The Conversation AU

When you’re in a medical emergency, you don’t typically think of calling a statistician by Associate professor, Australian National University, Senior lecturer, Monash University and
Biostatistician, University of Melbourne. 

However, the COVID-19 outbreak has shown just how necessary a clear understanding of data and modelling is to help prevent the spread of disease.
One person understood this a long time ago. Were she alive today, Florence Nightingale would understand the importance of data in dealing with a public health emergency.

Nightingale is renowned for her career in nursing, but less well known for her pioneering work in medical statistics. But it was actually her statistical skills that led to Nightingale saving many more lives...

A trailblazer for women 
In 1858, Nightingale’s achievements in statistics were recognised by the Royal Statistical Society in the UK, when she became the first woman Fellow of the Society.

After Nightingale’s fellowship, it would be more than 100 years before a woman was elected President of the Royal Statistical Society, with Stella Cunliffe’s election in 1975. It was only in 1995 that the Statistical Society of Australia had a woman as president, with the election of Helen MacGillivray.
Read more... 

Source: The Conversation AU 

Masterclass: Understanding Algorithms | Masterclass - MrFixItsTips

At one time, the term “algorithm” was reserved solely for computer programmers and mathematicians by MrFixItsTips.

It is now commonplace throughout numerous sectors, notably online gambling.

From commodity-based investment platforms to bookmakers that have the capability to obtain the latest odds in terms of an upcoming horse race, the average consumer is now able to take advantage of these unique digital entities.

Even those who are relatively unfamiliar with how algorithms function can still leverage numerous advantages. How are these lines of code impacting the online sports sector and what might we expect in the future?

Smarter Than You May Think
Any algorithm is heavily designed around the notion of probabilities. From a very basic standpoint, they are engineered to accurately predict a specific behaviour based off of any data that is present. For instance, an algorithm can be used to determine how the value of a certain stock may change within a 24-hour period...

Already Making Their Presence Known   
Most consumers are unaware of how common algorithms have become. Every time an individual searches for a subject on Google, the most relevant results based off of past searches will be displayed. These are normally referred to as “predicted algorithms”.

Smartphone apps will be recommended to individuals as a result of their past interests or purchases. Certain games may also use algorithms to present the player with more challenges.
Read more... 

Source: MrFixItsTips

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Professor: We can learn from 1918 flu pandemic | Coronavirus - The Herald

When talking about the current COVID-19 epidemic, many tend to mention the 1918 flu pandemic that also swept across the world.

In this 1918 photo, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital. 
Photo: courtesy Library of Congress via The Associated Press
“Both viruses spread rapidly to all areas of the world, although some people in 1918 had partial immunity to that strain of influenza,” said Ann Carmichael, a professor emerita at Indiana University-Bloomington’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. “They were older and/or lived in some rural areas where the strain of influenza prior to 1889-91 still circulated. So, 1918 was devastating for younger adults.”

The 1918 flu pandemic was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide in 1918 and 1919...

The pandemic is also known as the Spanish flu, though the exact origin of the flu is not fully known.

“It became the Spanish influenza because Spain didn’t join the war, and thus reported the flu in newspapers months before others did,” Carmichael explained.


Source: The Herald

Expert Alert: The Math Behind Social Distancing | Mathematics and Statistics - UMM News

A UMD faculty member's expertise illuminates the impact of social distancing during a pandemic by Richard Buckalew, Assistant Professor of Mathematics. 

Duluth's Portman Park during COVID-19
1. What does the math tell you about the impact of social distancing?
The math tells us that, given all the complex ways that people can interact and spread the pathogen, reducing this by even relatively small amounts can have a huge impact on the felt reality of an epidemic. 

In the real world, that translates to two things: We need fewer interactions with others, and when interaction must happen, we need safer ones – i.e., social distancing. And we need people who are contagious (‘testing’) or who might be (‘tracing’) to self-isolate and take more precautions than they otherwise would. Small changes in those two factors can have huge effects on the trajectory of the model...

3. What else would you like people to know?
 What I’d really like is for people to get to know their friendly neighborhood epidemiologist. Or mathematician, or whomever. People get into epidemiology, or epidemiological modeling, because they want to make the world a better place. When people have questions, I want them to feel empowered to ask someone who would know – and to know the difference, because unfortunately there are plenty of people who pretend to be experts when they aren’t.

Source: UMM News

World’s Women in Mathematics Day: Mirzakhani, a genius who shattered stereotypes | Mathematic - Tehran Times

The second year of World’s Women in Mathematics Day will be celebrated through video conferencing on May 12, which is the birthday of late Maryam Mirzakhani, the Iranian-born genius mathematician who shattered stereotypes about women's ability in mathematics, notes Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times.

Maryam Mirzakhani
At 2018 World Meeting for Mathematics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Iranian Mathematical Society proposed designating Maryam Mirzakhani’s birthday (May 12) as a day for celebrating women in mathematics. The proposal was approved. 

Still, some believe that studying math is not appropriate for a girl, and to justify their beliefs, they are making biological differences between men and women.

They generally refer to global scientific awards for their claims. Awards that are less than 200 years old, while many women throughout history have struggled with the stereotype and their work is a refutation of statements denying women's ability in mathematics.

The presence of women in mathematics has a long history. From Hypatia, a Greek mathematician who lived about 1,500 years ago, to 19th-century English mathematician and programmer Ada Lovelace. Iranian women have also had a hand in the world of mathematics for centuries, from Bi Bi Monajemeh Nishaburi, the seventh-century mathematician and astronomer to Farideh Firoozbakht, who became famous for her theory of Firoozbakht's conjecture on the distribution of prime numbers in 1982. But perhaps no Iranian female mathematician in the world has been mentioned as much as Maryam Mirzakhani...

In memory of Mirzakhani 
The United Nations Women, a UN entity for gender equality and women's empowerment, have honored seven women scientists, including Iran’s Maryam Mirzakhani, who have made significant contributions to the field of science, highlighting their world-altering and trailblazing careers.
The National Academy of Sciences of the United States has launches an award named after Maryam Mirzakhani for her efforts and achievements, which are awarded each year to exceptional contributions and advances in mathematics.

Source: Tehran Times

Why the “IT skills crisis” isn’t what it seems | Data Centre - Techerati

What exactly is driving the IT skills crisis? Simon Ratcliffe, Principal Consultant at Ensono, searches for the source.

Why the “IT skills crisis” isn’t what it seems - Techerati

Whatever the company, whatever the sector, there’s one phrase at the top of the agenda for every IT director: the ‘skills crisis’.

Undeniably, the crisis is a very real problem for IT, with significant consequences for the competitiveness of UK businesses and the economy at large. Recent Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) research starkly illustrated this problem, revealing that 40 per cent of organisations believe their efforts to implement digital transformation are hampered by a lack of staff and skills.

As the coronavirus emergency develops, these skills challenges are set to aggravate further. Mainframe operations, in particular, may be put under pressure, creating issues for mission critical workloads like on-premise SAP.

Needless to say, businesses need to address the skills crisis at its root? But what exactly is the root?...

The education problem 
The third and final cause of the skills crisis is, of course, education.

Currently, IT education in schools still focuses on the absolute basics: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and so on. For a generation that is digitally native and already familiar with these programmes, this kind of curriculum is disappointing and pitched far below where it should be.

Source: Techerati

How to improve your digital skills for free in lockdown |

As lockdown continues, now is a good time to upskill yourself. Digital skills are highly prized by employers - here's how to gain them, according to Katie Russell, Digital Lifestyle Writer at The Telegraph. 

We have rounded up some of the best courses for how you can improve your digital skills in lockdown
Photo: PeopleImages/iStockphoto
Whether you have been furloughed, or simply want to capitalise on the time you’ve saved on your commute, lockdown is a great opportunity to upskill yourself

One of the best ways to do this is to improve your digital skills. At the beginning of the year, some of the most in-demand hard skills were cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytical reasoning, blockchain and user experience design, according to LinkedIn.

“Digital skills are one of the hottest topics,” agrees Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn. He cites data analysis, data visualisation, coding, understanding digital business, and digital and social media marketing as some of the most in-demand skills in the modern workplace...

If you want to improve your skills, you don’t need to go back to university. There are a number of online courses available for gaining digital skills - many of which are free. 


Why 'Giving and Receive Feedback' is Trending (and Free Courses to Help You Upskill) | Top Skills - The Learning Blog

Online learning continues to surge globally with 3X the number of professionals using LinkedIn Learning in April versus February, says Hari Srinivasan, Vice President of Product Management - Linkedin Learning.

The Top Skill this Week: How to Give and Receive Feedback (And Free Courses to Help You Get Better at It)
When we looked into the skills our members were learning, we saw an interesting one rise in popularity: Feedback -- how to give and 
receive it.   

Now, it’s no secret that this is an important skill to have in order to be successful in your career. In fact, when managers provide performance feedback to employees, those employees are 2x more likely to believe that they can meet their personal career goals, according to recently released Glint data

Why might this skill be even more important to master now? Many of us are in a virtual workplace and have lost some of the natural interactions and feedback loops that tend to happen in the office. Giving and receiving both positive and constructive feedback in the right way can go a long way towards keeping people engaged and motivated...

Here are four courses that can help you give and receive feedback, which are free for you through the end of June:
Read more... 

Source: The Learning Blog