A Few Good Links – Feb 24th 2010

on February 24, 2010
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This week has been quite hectic, with a lot going on… This is, of course, a great thing… not much more I can say right now, I’ll keep it to that ;).

1. Decision Analysis and Decision Management in sports … again

One of the distractions I have been having, in particular with my sons having spent most of last week at home, have been the Winter Olympics. I am not an avid skier, but a large part of my extended family is – having lived both close to the Andes and the Alps certainly helped.

I already blogged on this not too long ago – it is fascinating to see some of the Decision Management techniques applied to sports, and used to address both the a-priori aspects that can help the players or teams formulate effective strategies, as well as the a-posteriori aspects that help them analyse what happened and draw lessons for the future.

Among the Winter Olympics sports is curling. Yeah, I know, only a Canadian can love this (so I was told) but it’s actually growing on me.

The “An Analysis of a Strategic Decision in the Sport of Curling” offers an example of Decision Analysis applied to the choice between taking a single point or blanking an end in the latter stages of a game. It’s a paying article, but interesting.

A similar paper is “Curling’s Paradox”, which has specific sections around the model that was developed for the  purpose of doing sensitivity analysis for a couple of last-minutes-of-game scenarios, and the corresponding analysis.

A more generic paper on “Cognitive Modeling of Decision Making in Sports” (1) is also an interesting read. It is more cognitive / psychology oriented, but covers a fair amount of ground.

Using sports as a domain to explore and teach about Decision Management in the academia (2) seems to be a very promising approach. Witness this document highlighting how a sports such as Tennis could be leveraged to help teach Mathematics and Statistics. Similarly, sports have been used in undergraduate quantitive analysis classes with success.

2. Data visualization

I think I write this every time, but  you know that I consider that good data visualization is a key part of decision management. I absolutely love the combination of powerful insight that good visualization provides, and the aesthetic aspects of the result.

There are a number of newspapers or magazines which publish data using visualization and interaction techniques.

The Economist publishes what they call the daily chart. An example, focusing on Healthcare, nicely contrasts the healthcare spending across European countries (3).

Another (British) organization, The Guardian, publishes a regular datablog (4) in which they present charts, a newspaper-level analysis and give access to the compiled data. Here is what they have with respect to the swine flu (5).

The Wall Street Journal has published  “Guide to Information Graphics” (6), an interesting read even though Steven Few does not like it too much.

3. Free / Crowd-sourced data visualization

And this leads me to the third category.which is a series of a few links to sites that can be used to either explore data visualization approaches, or even execute your own on your or any accessible source.

Among the best known is the one from The New York Times, the NY Times Visualization lab. A lot of what the journal is famous for in terms of interactive visualizations has come from there.

Visual Complexity also has a good set of visualizations that should inspire anybody wrestling with how to best present information.

On a different note, but related because it has do with decision-making and discussions, debategraph.org offers a collective environment supporting public debates on any topic. It’s fairly focused on major news or issues, but it is an intriguing site that I recommend a visit to. And of course, there is always freebase. I have not stumbled upon many mash-ups of these things, but the possibilities are of course there.

Finally, the quote of the week, selected by Carole-Ann:

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”
— Timothy Leary (LOL)


I hope you find these ramblings and links interesting. The intensity of the current developments may slow me down in the future, but hopefully I will be able to continue regularly…


  1. http://bit.ly/c5f415
  2. http://bit.ly/9SRePZ
  3. http://bit.ly/chMzYd
  4. http://bit.ly/bQhi6s
  5. http://bit.ly/a7QfFN
  6. http://bit.ly/dcZ648

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