While interviewing applicants for a data analyst position at my employer, I was shocked to find out that many of the applicants do not fully grasp basic statistical concepts such as standard error and confidence intervals. These aren’t obscure statistical concepts, but essential ones for the job, thus, I wanted to spend some time here explaining them in more details.

In a business setting, a data person usually collects some data, say the time users spend on their website, then they calculate some statistics about this data, say the mean or the median time spent on the website, and finally…

Path Dependent History


I am arguing here that within a handful of years, Data Scientists will become just Software Engineers (SWEs). Just like Front-end and Back-end engineers, we will have Machine Learning Engineers (MLEs). However, in this post, I want to make sure that we will learn the right lessons from their short-lived career.

Before the two careers merge, they had different histories, different practices, and different cultures. So, let me first shed some light on those differences.

A Path-dependent Process

The term “Path dependence” is used in the history of economics. When there are two groups, each go through different historic events…

GNU’s dream of Bitcoins

They might not be the same person, but they seem to play the same role in software history.

I’m not breaking any news here, and I’m not telling you I just discovered they are the same person. Actually, most probably, they can never be the same person at all. But, for me, they play the same role in the history of software.

The Free Software movement is dead!

In the 80’s, Richard Stallman started the free software movement. The movement revolutionized how software is created and consumed, and most importantly, it paved the way for new business models. Nevertheless, the emergence of cloud computing, mobile phones and SaaS deemed the free software irrelevant. Who owns the infrastructure matters way more than who owns the…

TicketSwap’s recommended events made for you

How we built a recommendation system to make sure our fans don’t miss the events they want to attend.

TicketSwap is used by millions of users around the world to find tickets for the concerts, the shows and the other events they wish to attend. Some fans are festival-goers, they do not want to miss a single edition from the festivals they love! Some fans prefer particular Jazz, Pop or Metal concerts. Some fans are there for inspiration, to discover new events they did not know they might like in the first place. You want a service that suits you.

It’s only natural that we would want our website and mobile apps to be personalized to cater to the…

And the algorithms, Facebook and its attention-whore lookalikes create, are not working either.

People have short attention span nowadays, thus they cannot consume long-form content anymore. They need bite-sized content, a la tweets and TikTok videos

The Social Dilemma (Netflix)

I may agree with the essence of this idea, but I disagree with the fact that this is an inevitable reality. I believe there is a vicious circle at play here.

With the lack of curation, and with the democratization of content creation, every one and their dog can create content now. And as a consumer, there is no way to know beforehand what content you will find valuable and deserves your attention. You don’t want to…

Where did content curation go?

Back in the golden age of the internet, around 2006, social platforms, or what was known as web 2.0 then, used to reward content creators and content curators equally.

I remember a blogger who used to call herself a news jockey, a la disc jockey in music.

In twitter, people were accustomed to the manual RT, instead of the tweet button. These RT’s allowed others to share the name of the retweeter along with the name of the creator. Blogs were full of quotes from other bloggers. I remember a blogger who used to call herself a news jockey, a…

Obvious bad choices by the democrats, lead to eventual defeats

Update [November 2020]: Clearly I was mistaken, and luckily my predictions were wrong about Trump winning again. Nevertheless, it is nice to keep this post here to remind myself of my wrong predictions.

Two conclusions can be made from these numbers

(1) The obvious one: The young voters voted for Bernie while the old ones favored Biden.

(2) The less obvious one: Is it really that 55% of the population are above 50? Or are these 55% of the voters? …

Spotting the bottlenecks is the answer

Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses
Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses
Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses, source Wikipedia

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, one has been wondering, how can science and technology solve this? We have all the scientific advances we have today, and it is estimated for vaccines to take more than a year to be available in the market.

Wired magazine published an article about the potential Covid-19 vaccines and where the bottlenecks are in their development process. As for the actual creation of the vaccines, it seems that the genetic sequencing has speeded up this part of the process already.

The reason it usually takes so long comes down to a combination of factors. The first…

The Righteous Mind

A review of Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,

Actually the main message Haidt wants to deliver is, “Why good people are divided by politics and religion”; however, personally, I was interested more into a different message, “where does morality come from”. The latter can explain the former anyway.

Where does morality come from?

Haidt started by examining two schools of thought here:

The two most common answers have long been that it is innate (the nativist answer) or that it comes from childhood learning (the empiricist answer).

Now, the opponents of the innate answer argue:

A review of Jared Rubin’s book, Rulers, Religion, and Riches

I had this question in mind for a while. All the articles I read that tried to answer this question had one thesis; it is religion, Islam is to be blamed. Though, I do not totally disagree, the answer felt very simplistic. In a way, religions are the products of their societies, and there is nothing stopping societies from re-shaping their religions if they want to. The west itself had Christianity, which would have hindered their development if it stayed in its middle ages form, but it didn’t. …

Tarek Amr

Machine Learning engineer, Data Visualisation book author, and a bunch of other things, http://www.tarekamr.com/

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