Shutting down the Phantom Trend


A couple of years ago I set up a polling aggregator site called The Phantom Trend. (It used a latent trend model, it was anonymous at first because I was still at the RBA, and all the good domain names were taken.) With the 2016 election over, I feel like it’s done its dash so I’m shutting it down. It would have been nice to leave on a high, but the model’s performance at the election means I’m leaving on a ho-hum. Forecasting is hard.

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The Australian political landscape


The ABC’s Vote Compass is a neat way to find out where you stand on the main issues in the 2016 election. The quiz has 30 questions, each of which has been assigned a score in two dimensions, namely economic and social. Thanks to some amazing work by David Barry, the point value of each question is now public. I thought it would be fun to build on his work by plotting them on a grid similar to the one used in the quiz results, so that we can visualise what Australian politics looks like in 2016. (Make sure to do the quiz before reading on, or your enjoyment will be spoiled.)

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Let's make childcare free


The idea of increasing the amount of public money going to childcare keeps popping up. For instance, Eleanor Robertson and Anne Summers recently singled it out as a desirable step forward for Australia. I think it sounds great, but I’ve been wondering how feasible it would be. I decided to take a closer look at the numbers.

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How to get started with data science in containers


The biggest impact on data science right now is not coming from a new algorithm or statistical method. It’s coming from Docker containers. Containers solve a bunch of tough problems simultaneously: they make it easy to use libraries with complicated setups; they make your output reproducible; they make it easier to share your work; and they can take the pain out of the Python data science stack.

We use Docker containers at the heart of Kaggle Scripts. Playing around with Scripts can give you a sense of what you can do with data science containers. But you can also put them to work on your own computer, and in this post I’ll explain how.

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Innovation policy, and Jupyter notebooks


I’ve written a couple of new things: one on the government’s new innovation package, and one on Jupyter notebooks.

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