17 December 2018

Data Science: Insight (Just the Quotes)

"[…] it is from long experience chiefly that we are to expect the most certain rules of practice, yet it is withal to be remembered, that observations, and to put us upon the most probable means of improving any art, is to get the best insight we can into the nature and properties of those things which we are desirous to cultivate and improve." (Stephen Hales, "Vegetable Staticks", 1727)

"The insights gained and garnered by the mind in its wanderings among basic concepts are benefits that theory can provide. Theory cannot equip the mind with formulas for solving problems, nor can it mark the narrow path on which the sole solution is supposed to lie by planting a hedge of principles on either side. But it can give the mind insight into the great mass of phenomena and of their relationships, then leave it free to rise into the higher realms of action." (Carl von Clausewitz, "On War", 1832)

"A law of nature, however, is not a mere logical conception that we have adopted as a kind of memoria technical to enable us to more readily remember facts. We of the present day have already sufficient insight to know that the laws of nature are not things which we can evolve by any speculative method. On the contrary, we have to discover them in the facts; we have to test them by repeated observation or experiment, in constantly new cases, under ever-varying circumstances; and in proportion only as they hold good under a constantly increasing change of conditions, in a constantly increasing number of cases with greater delicacy in the means of observation, does our confidence in their trustworthiness rise." (Hermann von Helmholtz, "Popular Lectures on Scientific Subjects", 1873)

"The attempt to characterize exactly models of an empirical theory almost inevitably yields a more precise and clearer understanding of the exact character of a theory. The emptiness and shallowness of many classical theories in the social sciences is well brought out by the attempt to formulate in any exact fashion what constitutes a model of the theory. The kind of theory which mainly consists of insightful remarks and heuristic slogans will not be amenable to this treatment. The effort to make it exact will at the same time reveal the weakness of the theory." (Patrick Suppes," A Comparison of the Meaning and Uses of Models in Mathematics and the Empirical Sciences", Synthese  Vol. 12 (2/3), 1960)

"Model-making, the imaginative and logical steps which precede the experiment, may be judged the most valuable part of scientific method because skill and insight in these matters are rare. Without them we do not know what experiment to do. But it is the experiment which provides the raw material for scientific theory. Scientific theory cannot be built directly from the conclusions of conceptual models." (Herbert G Andrewartha," Introduction to the Study of Animal Population", 1961)

"The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers […] sometimes […] the purpose of computing numbers is not yet in sight." (Richard Hamming, "Numerical Methods for Scientists and Engineers", 1962)

"The mediation of theory and praxis can only be clarified if to begin with we distinguish three functions, which are measured in terms of different criteria: the formation and extension of critical theorems, which can stand up to scientific discourse; the organization of processes of enlightenment, in which such theorems are applied and can be tested in a unique manner by the initiation of processes of reflection carried on within certain groups toward which these processes have been directed; and the selection of appropriate strategies, the solution of tactical questions, and the conduct of the political struggle. On the first level, the aim is true statements, on the second, authentic insights, and on the third, prudent decisions." (J├╝rgen Habermas, "Introduction to Theory and Practice", 1963)

"[...] it is rather more difficult to recapture directness and simplicity than to advance in the direction of ever more sophistication and complexity. Any third-rate engineer or researcher can increase complexity; but it takes a certain flair of real insight to make things simple again." (Ernst F Schumacher, "Small Is Beautiful", 1973)

"Every discovery, every enlargement of the understanding, begins as an imaginative preconception of what the truth might be. The imaginative preconception - a ‘hypothesis’ - arises by a process as easy or as difficult to understand as any other creative act of mind; it is a brainwave, an inspired guess, a product of a blaze of insight. It comes anyway from within and cannot be achieved by the exercise of any known calculus of discovery." (Sir Peter B Medawar, "Advice to a Young Scientist", 1979)

"There is a tendency to mistake data for wisdom, just as there has always been a tendency to confuse logic with values, intelligence with insight. Unobstructed access to facts can produce unlimited good only if it is matched by the desire and ability to find out what they mean and where they lead." (Norman Cousins, "Human Options : An Autobiographical Notebook", 1981)

"The heart of mathematics consists of concrete examples and concrete problems. Big general theories are usually afterthoughts based on small but profound insights; the insights themselves come from concrete special cases." (Paul Halmos, "Selecta: Expository writing", 1983)

"All the efforts of the researcher to find other models, conceptions, different mathematical forms, better linguistic modes of expression, to do justice to newly discovered layers of being mean self-transformation. The researcher in his place is the human being in self-transformation to more profound insight into what is given." (John Dessauer, Universitas: A Quarterly German Review of the Arts and Sciences Vol. 26 (4), 1984)

"[…] new insights fail to get put into practice because they conflict with deeply held internal images of how the world works [...] images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting. That is why the discipline of managing mental models - surfacing, testing, and improving our internal pictures of how the world works - promises to be a major breakthrough for learning organizations." (Peter Senge, "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization", 1990)

"Science is (or should be) a precise art. Precise, because data may be taken or theories formulated with a certain amount of accuracy; an art, because putting the information into the most useful form for investigation or for presentation requires a certain amount of creativity and insight." (Patricia H Reiff, "The Use and Misuse of Statistics in Space Physics", Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity 42, 1990)

"Management is not founded on observation and experiment, but on a drive towards a set of outcomes. These aims are not altogether explicit; at one extreme they may amount to no more than an intention to preserve the status quo, at the other extreme they may embody an obsessional demand for power, profit or prestige. But the scientist's quest for insight, for understanding, for wanting to know what makes the system tick, rarely figures in the manager's motivation. Secondly, and therefore, management is not, even in intention, separable from its own intentions and desires: its policies express them. Thirdly, management is not normally aware of the conventional nature of its intellectual processes and control procedures. It is accustomed to confuse its conventions for recording information with truths-about-the-business, its subjective institutional languages for discussing the business with an objective language of fact and its models of reality with reality itself." (Stanford Beer, "Decision and Control", 1994)

"Ideas about organization are always based on implicit images or metaphors that persuade us to see, understand, and manage situations in a particular way. Metaphors create insight. But they also distort. They have strengths. But they also have limitations. In creating ways of seeing, they create ways of not seeing. There can be no single theory or metaphor that gives an all-purpose point of view, and there can be no simple 'correct theory' for structuring everything we do." (Gareth Morgan, "Imaginization", 1997)

"We use mathematics and statistics to describe the diverse realms of randomness. From these descriptions, we attempt to glean insights into the workings of chance and to search for hidden causes. With such tools in hand, we seek patterns and relationships and propose predictions that help us make sense of the world."  (Ivars Peterson, "The Jungles of Randomness: A Mathematical Safari", 1998)

"The purpose of analysis is insight. The best analysis is the simplest analysis which provides the needed insight." (Donald J Wheeler, "Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos" 2nd Ed., 2000)

"A model is an imitation of reality and a mathematical model is a particular form of representation. We should never forget this and get so distracted by the model that we forget the real application which is driving the modelling. In the process of model building we are translating our real world problem into an equivalent mathematical problem which we solve and then attempt to interpret. We do this to gain insight into the original real world situation or to use the model for control, optimization or possibly safety studies." (Ian T Cameron & Katalin Hangos, "Process Modelling and Model Analysis", 2001)

"A common mistake is that all visualization must be simple, but this skips a step. You should actually design graphics that lend clarity, and that clarity can make a chart 'simple' to read. However, sometimes a dataset is complex, so the visualization must be complex. The visualization might still work if it provides useful insights that you wouldn’t get from a spreadsheet. […] Sometimes a table is better. Sometimes it’s better to show numbers instead of abstract them with shapes. Sometimes you have a lot of data, and it makes more sense to visualize a simple aggregate than it does to show every data point." (Nathan Yau, "Data Points: Visualization That Means Something", 2013)

"The other buzzword that epitomizes a bias toward substitution is 'big data'. Today’s companies have an insatiable appetite for data, mistakenly believing that more data always creates more value. But big data is usually dumb data. Computers can find patterns that elude humans, but they don’t know how to compare patterns from different sources or how to interpret complex behaviors. Actionable insights can only come from a human analyst (or the kind of generalized artificial intelligence that exists only in science fiction)." (Peter Thiel & Blake Masters, "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future", 2014)

"As business leaders we need to understand that lack of data is not the issue. Most businesses have more than enough data to use constructively; we just don't know how to use it. The reality is that most businesses are already data rich, but insight poor." (Bernard Marr, Big Data: Using SMART Big Data, Analytics and Metrics To Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance, 2015)

"While Big Data, when managed wisely, can provide important insights, many of them will be disruptive. After all, it aims to find patterns that are invisible to human eyes. The challenge for data scientists is to understand the ecosystems they are wading into and to present not just the problems but also their possible solutions." (Cathy O'Neil, "Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy", 2016)

"Big Data allows us to meaningfully zoom in on small segments of a dataset to gain new insights on who we are." (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, "Everybody Lies: What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are", 2017)

"Mathematical modeling is the modern version of both applied mathematics and theoretical physics. In earlier times, one proposed not a model but a theory. By talking today of a model rather than a theory, one acknowledges that the way one studies the phenomenon is not unique; it could also be studied other ways. One's model need not claim to be unique or final. It merits consideration if it provides an insight that isn't better provided by some other model." (Reuben Hersh, ”Mathematics as an Empirical Phenomenon, Subject to Modeling”, 2017)

"Quantum Machine Learning is defined as the branch of science and technology that is concerned with the application of quantum mechanical phenomena such as superposition, entanglement and tunneling for designing software and hardware to provide machines the ability to learn insights and patterns from data and the environment, and the ability to adapt automatically to changing situations with high precision, accuracy and speed." (Amit Ray, "Quantum Computing Algorithms for Artificial Intelligence", 2018)

"The goal of data science is to improve decision making by basing decisions on insights extracted from large data sets. As a field of activity, data science encompasses a set of principles, problem definitions, algorithms, and processes for extracting nonobvious and useful patterns from large data sets. It is closely related to the fields of data mining and machine learning, but it is broader in scope. (John D Kelleher & Brendan Tierney, "Data Science", 2018)

"The patterns that we extract using data science are useful only if they give us insight into the problem that enables us to do something to help solve the problem." (John D Kelleher & Brendan Tierney, "Data Science", 2018)

"Some problems are just too complicated for rational logical solutions. They admit of insights, not answers." (Jerome B Wiesner)

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