Another Reason to Love Maps! American Dialect Maps Show Our Language Quirks

Image: Joshua Katz, North Carolina State University Department of Statistics.

I happened across an article on the North Carolina State University research blog. One of their statistics graduate students has taken data from a decade-old Harvard University linguistics survey and turned it into graphical magic.

The survey is Dr. Bert Vaux’s Dialect Survey, which was conducted in 2002 and included over 30,000 Americans from all 50 states (even though the maps only show the contiguous 48 states).

What NCSU student Joshua Katz did was take the geolocated data from that survey and apply a “k-nearest neighbor” smoothing algorithm to estimate the likelihood at every point in the U.S. of using a particular dialect or word choice.

No Starch Press Manga Guides Make Science Fun

Have you ever read a textbook cover to cover? I’m in grad school. I’ve had to do it more than once. It usually requires massive amounts of caffeine and re-reading a lot of pages. Well, there’s some good news. No Starch Press has The Manga Guide series on textbook topics, such as statistics, electricity, and molecular biology. The manga books are written by Japanese subject matter experts. They have been translated to English and (thankfully) rearranged to read from left to right.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee: Some Fascinating Facts

We are in the midst of the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee Week in the Washington, D.C., area.  I’ve watched the competition with interest most years — although not with the same enthusiasm my family watches the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th!  I find it especially cool that ESPN chooses to air the finals every June and this year the preliminaries streamed

How Stephen King Taught Me Percentile Rank and the Normal Curve


I was driving my ’58 Plymouth Fury on a long trip out of Boulder, Colorado to a strange town in Maine, when I stopped at a hotel along the way for a needed caffeine boost. A man in glasses and a way with words came over and asked, “So, what do you know about percentile rank and the normal curve?”  It was strange for a