Log Likelihood

A problem from yesterday: Suppose you observe n iid normal variables from the normal density, X ∼ N(µ, σ 2 ), where σ 2 is known. (A) Find the maximum likelihood estimator of the mean µ.


This is the normal density function. The trick is you take the log to make it easier.

L is for likelihood, where L(θ; x) = f(x; θ).  L(θ|X) = n ∏ i=1 Pr(Xi = xi |θ).

So, what you do, I THINK, is you take the 1st equation, P(x), and substitute it into that second equation and then take the LOG to MAKE IT EASIER, then take the first derivative to maximize, the second derivative to make sure it’s a max, not a min. After that, it’s okay to cry.

Any time someone suggests that taking a log of a function makes it easier, then I know I’ve wandered into the wrong role playing group. Dungeons and Dragons to the left, Rulers of the Math Geekdom to your right, and People Who Just Want to Take a Nap straight ahead.


As crazy complicated as all this is, it’s an apt metaphor for my life. Simple questions like: “Are you coming home this weekend?” require 2 rounds of computations and end with an answer like: “Probably not.”

Where do you think you’ll work when you finish your degree?  (long pause as I do the mental math shuffle). I don’t know, but I hope it’s somewhere warm.

Let’s go to lunch.dinner/tailgate sometime…. The Magic Abacus says unlikely.

All of the uncertainty is excruciating, but it’s a really good life lesson. Control of our lives is an illusion, one we grip with desperation (lucky socks, pen, underwear anyone?). Maybe this practice of letting go is good for me.


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Tales from the Bull-Pen

Nothing as salacious as what goes on in the locker room or the Oval Office, but let’s face it, all my PhD peeps are too busy for that sort of romantic interlude. We’re out searching for the elusive inverse Hessian co-variance matrix, which sounds really kinky, but in reality is more  Sir Isaac Newton than Sir Freak-a-Lot aka Christian Gray.


I’d rather a public flogging… well, maybe not so very public. 

We’re also busy with our existential crises as we search for meaning within our lives. This is an honest-to-goodness test I received from a colleague this week. And my reply.


Nobody that really knows me is surprised by my statement that I’m going to bed at 8. They’re shocked to find out I’m up till 10 most nights. But the biggest shocker is that I’ve given up grits and chocolate milk for breakfast. I don’t even recognize myself most days.


I love SnapChat.

Mid-breakdown, mid-week another resident of Cubeville revealed a moment that set the bar even lower. After a week of low-calorie, clean eaating, he ACCIDENTALLY wound up with a 6-pack of his favorite beer IN HIS BELLY and followed that with a chaser… all SIX frozen LeanCuisine entrees in the freezer. A whole meat-lovers pizza or a pint of ice cream– that I could respect.


As God is my witness, I will never binge on frozen diet meals again. (My apologies if my usage of this image is culturally insensitive. But, seriously, gtf over yourself and get off my blog.)

It’s Friday night and my laundry’s all did, so who’s pitiful now, huh? Not me. I’m prepared for midterm madness. Bring it on, witches. Bring it on.

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The Second Spider

Today I killed a second spider in my apartment. Undoubtedly the one I killed yesterday was reported AWOL and they sent out a search party.


I’m not sure anybody would bother putting down their Iphones to come look for me.

Apprehensive I am about the den of arachnids who is scouting my pad for a potential lair. They seem to be targeting the area between my bedroom and bathroom, which is coincidentally the highest traffic area in the 500 square feet where I spend my evenings. I did a little Bruce Lee move, jumped over it, landed in the bathroom and killed it with the stainless steel trashcan.


This was almost me, but after the Eleventieth whack with the trashcan, I was named the victor–for now.

Now I’m gonna have to go buy spider poison and hope it doesn’t kill me, too.  I don’t think I can sleep in the refrigerator for long and Mark never got me that flamethrower for Christmas. A nasty chemical cocktail is my next move, assuming they haven’t taken over by the time I get home.


This is not the spider that was in my apartment. This one is kinda cute, but probably Australian and full of deadly venom.

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Mean Reversion

There’s this theory called mean reversion and it more or less boils down this: things move to the middle. It’s an old idea– what goes up must come down.

Yesterday LSU fired Les Miles. As much as his rote play-calling frustrated me, I was never sure that we’d be better off without him. (See Tennessee’s record post-Fulmer.)

Under Les, LSU was consistent in its recruiting and in its hunt for another National Championship ring. Only 1 coach in this modern era is more consistent. You know who I’m talking about… his name rhymes with Satan.


I’m gonna miss this.

Am recalling a few lines from  Keb’ Mo’s song  For Better or Worse: 

Even if I took the chance, I’d just be looking for you.Would it be better or worse? Better or Worse? So what do you think that we’re really gonna find?

LSU’s looking for the next Les Miles. But, then again, who isn’t?

Posted in Continuouse Improvement, football, Louisiana, LSU, Sports, Statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Popcorn Chicken

I remember being pleasantly surprised the first time I had WalMart deli chicken strips. They were pretty good. And so is the fried okra, but neither hold a candle to fresh popcorn chicken with some honey mustard dipping sauce.


You might also qualify under an alternative section if you didn’t learn integrals in high school calculus.

My friend Mary Angel always said Louisiana gas stations had better food than most restaurants, and I agree. The Home Run in Marksville gets top marks from me for its boudin. These guys may have a more independent opinion: http://boudinlink.com/

Baby Lyle came home for the extended weekend and (as usual) had the best comment about the LSU game. When one of receivers dropped what looked like an easy catch, I was disgusted and said something like, “our QB can’t throw and the receivers can’t catch.”

drpped pass

Right place, right time, wrong arms…

Lyle’s a veteran listener of our endless complaints about the one-dimensional LSU offense and said, “Well, it’s not like they ever thought they were really ever going to have to do it.”

The kid makes a valid point. Kinda like fire drills, emergency exits, and the Spanish Inquisition– unexpected.


This reminds me of some college football fans.

It’s a nasty rainy day here in Metro BR today. I am not motivated to go to my office and do any of the mountains of studying that is piling up on my desk. Statistics seems easy until the test rolls around. Econometrics seems impossible unless I can download a Nobel prize winning mathematician’s brain vis-a-vis the Matrix.

tank need program

In the time it took me to redneck engineer this meme, I probably could have created cold fusion or something.

Here’s hoping everybody has a good week.

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The Day After

No, I didn’t take a pill in Ibiza. Or drink too much Abita.


My shriveled soul after 2 pages of Audit Quality Literature Review. Only 73 more pages to go.

But the day ain’t over, yet. Not by a long shot.

So this didn’t happen while I waited in line for 30 minutes at the LSU bookstore to spend $300 on 2 used books,  but I totally tried to instigate one:

Football season opener next week. It may be the only game I get to watch in it’s entirety. Mostly because they hold these suckers outside. In Louisiana. Where it’s hotter than Satan’s steam room on the 4th of July.


Its a wet kind of heat. And by wet I mean melted-fat slime puddling in your shoes. That kind of wet.

I really need to stop procrastinating and just get it over with. It’s the only way to get finished.  Yesterday, I basked in the accomplishment of achieving the halfway mark. Today, I face the brutal reality that there are 2 years left of uphill climbing.

Thank you to everybody who has been so supportive of me. I appreciate all the encouragement as I try to remember that it “ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side.”

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I do NOT endorse this theme park

I’d rather face a pack of rabid velociraptors then the endure the inefficiencies and indignities of modern air travel.


Now I know that only George W. Bush has a weather machine, so it’s not anybody’s fault we got delayed, but….

if we didn’t have to arrive 2 hours early for our public strip search then it would have significantly shortened the length of time we spent enjoying the hospitality of the airlines.

The worst part of an unexpected overnight in the ATL is the complete lockdown Coca-Cola has on the vendors. No diet Mountain Dew in site.


My summer paper is due today (by 5pm), Baby Lyle’s move in day is Tuesday, and I present this paper Friday.

I have tentatively scheduled a nervous breakfown for Friday afternoon. At a bar. Somewhere in Baton Rouge.

CREDIT: to Lyle for the title and the subsequent 12 second lecture and demonstration on how to save a google image WITHOUT taking a acreenshot.

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