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CNN Light Years guest post: Data: It’s how stores know you’re pregnant

In honor of this year’s Mathematics Awareness Month, titled “Mathematics, Statistics, and the Data Deluge,” I’ve contributed an article to CNN’s Light Years blog on how corporations might use big data to infer personal details about its customers. Mostly this was inspired by the recent New York Times investigation on how Target collects and uses customer data. Here’s an excerpt:

Whether you are trying to make the best decisions for your fantasy baseball league, looking to capitalize on an opportunity in a fluctuating stock market or simply filtering through the results of a Google search, it is hard to deny that we are surrounded by more data now than ever before. As such, the task of organizing and drawing conclusions from data can be a challenge, but thankfully mathematics can, in many cases, rise to the occasion.

Want to read more? Click here to go to the story!

. . . → Read More: CNN Light Years guest post: Data: It’s how stores know you’re pregnant

How Powerful is the Pyramid?

My love of NBC comedies has, by now, been well established. Today I’d like to return to The Office, for although Steve Carrell’s absence may have hurt the ratings, it certainly has not diminished the potential for the show to inspire some mathematical thinking.

If you have not been watching recently, this season marked the debut of the company’s first ever tablet computer, dubbed the Pyramid. The Pyramid made its first appearance early in the season (and was also featured in on Wired), and has since been joined by a smartphone counterpart known as the Arrowhead. Here’s an image of Dwight touting the new tablet.

If you live in the States, you can also view the clip from which this image was taken:

On the face of it, the tablet is ridiculous (this fact is eventually sort of addressed later . . . → Read More: How Powerful is the Pyramid?