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Safeguarding Children and Youth from Sexual Predators

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Safeguarding Children and Youth from Sexual Predators (PDF)
Source: University of Minnesota REACH Lab

In response to a request from The Office of Family Policy, Children and Youth, the Center for Research and Outreach (REACH) team conducted a review of the literature focused on safeguarding children and youth from sexual predators. An extensive and systematic review of the literature was conducted identifying relevant articles and reports ; approximately 400 documents were reviewed for this report . This report focuses on both the tactics that offenders utilize in grooming young people for sexual abuse, as well as existing programs that are in place to protect young people from predatory practices. Based on th e extensive review of empirical evidence , organizational best practices and recommendations are also identified.

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Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Bridging psychological research exploring emotional complexity and research in the natural sciences on the measurement of biodiversity, we introduce-and demonstrate the benefits of-emodiversity: the variety and relative abundance of the emotions that humans experience. Two cross-sectional studies across more than 37,000 respondents demonstrate that emodiversity is an independent predictor of mental and physical health-such as decreased depression and doctor’s visits-over and above mean levels of positive and negative emotion. These results remained robust after controlling for gender, age, and the five main dimensions of personality. Emodiversity is a practically important and previously unidentified metric for assessing the health of the human emotional ecosystem.

Dragging Patent Trolls Into the Light

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Dragging Patent Trolls Into the Light
Source: Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

Proponents say that non-practicing entities play a valuable role by sticking up for small inventors, going up against big companies that steal the ideas of entrepreneurs who are unable to fight their own legal battles. (NPEs acquire patents either by purchasing them from companies, inventors, and academic institutions, or by being assigned them in the first place for original work.) If it weren’t for NPEs, the argument goes, resource-rich companies would be free to steal ideas of small inventors without fearing retaliatory lawsuits—and this would poison the business environment.

But critics have another name for many NPEs: patent trolls. In this view, a significant number of non-practicing entities acquire patents for the sole purpose of coercing companies, mostly technology firms, into paying licensing or settlement fees (whether justified or not).

New research coauthored by Lauren H. Cohen, professor of finance at Harvard Business School; Umit G. Gurun, of University of Texas at Dallas; and Scott Duke Kominers, of the Harvard Society of Fellows, attempts to answer that question by studying which firms NPEs target in litigation, when the litigation occurs, and the impact of the legal challenges on the targeted firms’ abilities to innovate and grow. Their paper, released in July, is entitled “Patent Trolls: Evidence from Targeted Firms.”

The research concludes that NPEs not only go after the most susceptible, cash-rich targets, but in the process damage those companies’ abilities to innovate in the future.

XRay: Enhancing the Web’s Transparency with Differential Correlation

August 21, 2014 Comments off

XRay: Enhancing the Web’s Transparency with Differential Correlation (PDF)
Source: Columbia University

Today’s Web services – such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook – leverage user data for varied purposes, including personalizing recommendations, targeting advertisements, and adjusting prices. At present, users have little insight into how their data is being used. Hence, they cannot make informed choices about the services they choose.

To increase transparency, we developed XRay, the first fine-grained, robust, and scalable personal data tracking system for the Web. XRay predicts which data in an arbitrary Web account (such as emails, searches, or viewed products) is being used to target which outputs (such as ads, recommended products, or prices). XRay’s core functions are service agnostic and easy to instantiate for new services, and they can track data within and across services. To make predictions independent of the audited service, XRay relies on the following insight: by comparing outputs from different accounts with similar, but not identical, subsets of data, one can pinpoint targeting through correlation. We show both theoretically, and through experiments on Gmail, Amazon, and YouTube, that XRay achieves high precision and recall by correlating data from a surprisingly small number of extra accounts.

See: New Tool Makes Online Personal Data More Transparent

5 Imperatives: Addressing Healthcare’s Innovation Challenge

August 19, 2014 Comments off

5 Imperatives: Addressing Healthcare’s Innovation Challenge (PDF)
Source: Harvard Medical School

1. Making value the central objective
In isolation, efforts to either reduce costs or improve outcomes are insufficient; we need to do both through care coordination and shared information.

2. Promoting novel approaches to process improvement
Instead of largely focusing on product innovation, we also must create an environment that encourages process improvement and acknowledges that “failure” represents an important component of experimentation and learning.

3. Making consumerism really work
Today, consumerism remains a strong idea with weak means of execution. We will achieve greater success when providers organize efforts around patient needs and when patients become more active agents in managing their own health.

4.Decentralizing approaches to problem solving
We should facilitate the movement of care delivery and health care innovation from centralized centers of expertise out to the periphery, where more providers, innovators, and patients can engage in collaborative improvement efforts.

5. Integrating new approaches into established organizations
Our future must build on past successes. Existing health care institutions must be reinforced with efforts to integrate new knowledge into established organizations and the communities they serve.

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos

August 19, 2014 Comments off

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos (PDF)
Source: MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Videos are a widely-used kind of resource for online learning. This paper presents an empirical study of how video production decisions affect student engagement in online educational videos. To our knowledge, ours is the largest-scale study of video engagement to date, using data from 6.9 million video watching sessions across four courses on the edX MOOC platform. We measure engagement by how long students are watching each video, and whether they attempt to answer post-video assessment problems.

Our main findings are that shorter videos are much more engaging, that informal talking-head videos are more engaging, that Khan-style tablet drawings are more engaging, that even high-quality pre-recorded classroom lectures might not make for engaging online videos, and that students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos.

Based upon these quantitative findings and qualitative insights from interviews with edX staff, we developed a set of recommendations to help instructors and video producers take better advantage of the online video format.

An Examination of University Speech Codes’ Constitutionality and Their Impact on High-Level Discourse

August 18, 2014 Comments off

An Examination of University Speech Codes’ Constitutionality and Their Impact on High-Level Discourse
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Welch, thesis)

The First Amendment – which guarantees the right to freedom of religion, of the press, to assemble, and petition to the government for redress of grievances – is under attack at institutions of higher learning in the United States of America. Beginning in the late 1980s, universities have crafted “speech codes” or “codes of conduct” that prohibit on campus certain forms of expression that would otherwise be constitutionally guaranteed. Examples of such polices could include prohibiting “telling a joke that conveys sexism,” or “content that may negatively affect an individual’s self-esteem.” Despite the alarming number of institutions that employ such policies, administrative and student attitude toward repeal or ensuring their free-speech rights are intact is arguably lax. Some scholars even suggest that colleges’ prohibitions are welcome, and are a product of a generation of students rejecting the tolerance of hate speech. Court cases and precedent disagree, though, and various prominent rulings are discussed that have shaped the landscape of conduct codes in today’s academia. Also described are examples and outcomes of academic prosecution of students by school officials for constitutionally protected speech, opinion, expression or conduct. More research is imperative before occurrence of a culture shift that eradicates expression and topics of discussion and criminally prosecutes speech outside of the talking points of an ivory tower echo chamber of approved opinions.

A Data-driven Method for In-game Decision Making in MLB

August 11, 2014 Comments off

A Data-driven Method for In-game Decision Making in MLB (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

In this paper we show how machine learning can be applied to generate a model that could lead to better on-field decisions by predicting a pitcher’s performance in the next inning. Specifically we show how to use regularized linear regression to learn pitcher-specific predictive models that can be used to estimate whether a starting pitcher will surrender a run if allowed to start the next inning.

For each season we trained on the first 80% of the games, and tested on the rest. The results suggest that using our model would frequently lead to different decisions late in games than those made by major league managers. There is no way to evaluate would have happened when a manager lifted a pitcher that our model would have allowed to continue. From the 5th inning on in close games, for those games in which a manager left a pitcher in that our model would have removed, the pitcher ended up surrendering at least one run in that inning 60% (compared to 43% overall) of the time.

Presidents and the U.S. Economy: An Econometric Exploration

August 8, 2014 Comments off

Presidents and the U.S. Economy: An Econometric Exploration (PDF)
Source: Princeton University (Blinder and Watson)

The U.S. economy has grown faster—and scored higher on many other macroeconomic metrics– when the President of the United States is a Democrat rather than a Republican. For many measures, including real GDP growth (on which we concentrate), the performance gap is both large and statistically signi ficant, despite the fact that postwar history includes only 16 complete presidential terms. This paper asks why. The answer is not found in technical time series matters (such as differential trends or mean reversion), nor in systematically more expansionary monetary or fiscal policy under Democrats. Rather, it appears that the Democratic edge stems mainly from more benign oil shocks , superior TFP performance, a more favorable international environment, and perhaps more op timistic consumer expectations about the near- term future. Many other potential explanations are examined but fail to explain the partisan growth gap.

See: Economy Grows Faster under Democratic Presidents…and Corporations Make more Profits (AllGov.com)

The Three Dimensions of Rebounding

August 8, 2014 Comments off

The Three Dimensions of Rebounding (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

The recent spread of tracking technology in sports is bringing about a new era in analytics where we can deconstruct things we previously understood as one thing. We consider rebounding in basketball. Until recently we would get at most one piece of information after a missed shot: the name of a player that got the rebound. In this paper, we (1) describe the full timeline of a rebound, (2) develop metrics for the various dimensions of this timeline using novel techniques and (3) apply them to calculate individual player abilities in these dimensions.

The Hot Hand: A New Approach to an Old “Fallacy”

August 7, 2014 Comments off

The Hot Hand: A New Approach to an Old “Fallacy” (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

The vast literature on the Hot Hand Fallacy in basketball rests on the assumption that shot selection is independent of player-perceived hot or coldness. In this paper, we challenge this assumption using a novel dataset of over 83,000 shots from the 2012-2013 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, combined with optical tracking data of both the players and the ball. We create a comprehensive model of shot difficulty using relevant initial shot conditions, and use it to show that players who have exceeded their expectation over recent shots shoot from significantly further away, face tighter defense, are more likely to take their team’s next shot, and take more difficult shots. We then turn to the Hot Hand itself and show that players who are outperforming will continue to do so, conditional on the difficulty of their present shot. Our estimates of the Hot Hand effect range from 1.2 to 2.4 percentage points in increased likelihood of making a shot.

Bridging Science and Technology through Academic-Industry Partnerships

August 7, 2014 Comments off

Bridging Science and Technology through Academic-Industry Partnerships
Source: Social Science Research Network

Scientific research and its translation into commercialized technology is a driver of wealth creation and economic growth. Partnerships to foster the translational processes from public research organizations, such as universities and hospitals, to private firms are a policy tool that has attracted increased interest. Yet questions about the efficacy and the efficiency with which funds are used are subject to frequent debate. This paper examines empirical data from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation (DNATF), an agency that funds partnerships between universities and private companies to develop technologies important to Danish industry. We assess the effect of a unique mediated funding scheme that combines project grants with active facilitation and conflict management on firm performance, comparing the likelihood of bankruptcy and employee count as well as patent count, publication count and their citations and collaborative nature between funded and unfunded firms. Because randomization of the sample was not feasible, we address endogeneity around selection bias using a sample of qualitatively similar firms based on a funding decision score. This allows us to observe the local effect of samples in which we drop the best recipients and the worst non-recipients. Our results suggest that while receiving the grant does bring an injection of funding that alleviates financing constraints, its core effect on the firm’s innovative behavior is in fostering collaborations and translations between science and technology and encouraging riskier projects rather than purely increasing patenting.

Can’t Buy Much Love: Why money is not baseball’s most valuable currency

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Can’t Buy Much Love: Why money is not baseball’s most valuable currency (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Talking heads, disgruntled general managers, and bar-goers have argued for years that professional baseball has a major competitive balance problem stemming from payroll inequities. This paper examines, and eventually rejects, that notion, relying on both a cross-sectional and longitudinal empirical analysis. Despite rising payroll inequality, the percent of variation in wins that can be explained by payroll (referred to throughout the paper as the “Win Buying Index”) has been declining relative to historical values and the NFL and NBA . This drop in the Win Buying Index can be attributed to a dramatic rise in the production of young , pre-free agency eligible players with severely suppressed salaries . As the pro-ready age for young athletes continues to fall and leagues continue to enact stricter regulations against substances that had historically disproportionately helped older players, policies that ensure cheap young labor — the league’s most valuable currency — will do more to reduce the effect s of payroll on winning than restrictions on overall team salary.

The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access during the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game

August 5, 2014 Comments off

The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access during the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers
From Harvard Working Knowledge op/ed:

During the 2008 financial crisis, small businesses were hampered in securing bank credit because of a perfect storm of their falling sales and weakened collateral, and growing risk aversion among lenders. Those days are not over. While lingering cyclical factors from the crisis may still be constraining access to bank credit, there are also structural barriers that seem to be preventing banks, both large and small, from ever fully returning to the small business market.

The State, Parents, Schools, “Culture Wars”, and Modern Technologies: Challenges under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child

August 5, 2014 Comments off

The State, Parents, Schools, “Culture Wars”, and Modern Technologies: Challenges under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child
Source: Washington & Lee University School of Law

This paper focuses on some of the core principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and their application under U.S. state and federal law. While the United States has not ratified the Convention, it is a signatory. Many of the most intractable cultural issues in the United States involve children and their rights to participation, information, and decision-making. Frequently, primary and secondary education presents a fertile battle ground for “cultural clashes” between parents, schools, and state officials. In the private context, both U.S. law and the U.N. Convention have adopted the “best interests of the child” standard. Despite the usage of identically named or similarly sounding concepts, to what extent U.S. approaches may be aligned or conflict with the Convention remains subject to question. The United States would benefit from more active participation in a global dialogue about children’s issues, especially as brain science and technological change challenge our traditional understanding of what it means to be a “child” and a “parent.”

What Does it Take to Call a Strike? Three Biases in Umpire Decision Making

August 5, 2014 Comments off

What Does it Take to Call a Strike? Three Biases in Umpire Decision Making (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Do Major League Baseball umpires call balls and strikes solely in response to pitch location? We analyze all regular season calls from 2009 to 2011 — over one million pitches — using non-parametric and structural estimation methods. We find that the strike zone contracts in 2-strike counts and expands in 3-ball counts, and that umpires are reluctant to call two strikes in a row. Effect sizes can be dramatic: in 2-strike counts the probability of a called strike drops by as much as 19 percentage points in the corners of the strike zone. We structurally estimate each umpire’s aversions to miscalling balls and his aversions to miscalling strikes in different game states. If an umpire is unbiased, he would only need to be 50% sure that a pitch is a strike in order to call a strike half the time. In fact, the average umpire needs to be 64% sure of a strike in order to call strike three half the time. Moreover, the least bias ed umpire still needs to be 55% sure of a strike in order to call strike three half the time. In other words, e very umpire is biased. Contrary to their formal role as unbiased arbiters of balls and strikes, umpires are biased by the state of the at-bat when deciding whether a pitch intersects the strike zone.

Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion

July 31, 2014 Comments off

Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion</strong>
Source: National Student Clearinghouse

Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate. Almost one-third of this population had only a minimal interaction with the higher education system, having enrolled for just a single term at a single institution. Signature Report 7 examines the “some college, no degree” phenomenon to better understand the value of some college in its own right and as well as the contribution the “some college, no degree” population can make to achieving college completion goals.

Dirty Work: The Effects of Viewing Disturbing Media on Military Attorneys

July 30, 2014 Comments off

Dirty Work: The Effects of Viewing Disturbing Media on Military Attorneys
Source: Minnesota State University-Mankato (Sokol)

This study examines the psychological effects of viewing disturbing media on military attorneys who are part of the JAG Corps. Twenty seven legal professionals who work with cases involving child pornography and sexual violence completed measures of secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD), burnout, perceptions of social stigma, and feelings of protectiveness and distrust towards others. A substantial number of participants reported poor well-being, though exposure to disturbing media was not predictive of these outcomes. However, defense attorneys and prosecuting attorneys differed significantly in severity of their perception of social stigma, which was linked to increased negative outcomes. Furthermore, qualitative results added to the growing pool of data related to effective methods of coping with exposure to disturbing media which may have important practical implications for the legal professionals who engage in this work.

New Global Study Finds Companies Advanced in Social Business Actively Leveraging Social Data

July 28, 2014 Comments off

New Global Study Finds Companies Advanced in Social Business Actively Leveraging Social Data
Source: Deloitte/MIT

New research released today by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte reveals that nearly two thirds of surveyed companies around the world find social business initiatives —including social media, social software and social networks—are positively impacting their business outcomes.

The report, Moving Beyond Marketing: Generating Social Business Value Across the Enterprise, based on a global survey of more than 4,800 business executives across 26 industries and 109 countries, found that the level of value companies achieve is related to their social business “maturity.”

Respondents who rated their companies further along the social maturity scale were more likely to report their companies practice the following:

  • Apply social business data in the decision making process: Nearly 80 percent analyze social data, and 67 percent integrate it into systems and processes to improve business decisions.
  • Employ a leadership vision that social can bring about fundamental changes: More than 90 percent of respondents say their leaders believe it can create powerful and positive change.
  • Infuse social business into multiple functions across the enterprise: A total of 87 percent use social business to spur innovation.

“Win at Home and Draw Away”: Automatic Formation Analysis Highlighting the Differences in Home and Away Team Behaviors

July 28, 2014 Comments off

“Win at Home and Draw Away”: Automatic Formation Analysis Highlighting the Differences in Home and Away Team Behaviors (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

In terms of analyzing soccer matches, two of the most important factors to consider are: 1) the formation the team played (e.g., 4 – 4 – 2, 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 , 3 – 5 – 2 etc. ), and 2) the manner in which they executed it (e.g., conservative – sitting deep, or aggressive – pressing high). Despite the existence of ball and player tracking data, no current methods exist which can automatically detect and visualize formations. Using an entire sea son of Prozone data which consists of ball and player tracking information from a recent top – tier prof essional league, we showcase an automatic formation detection method by investigating the “home advantage”. In a paper we published recently, using an ent ire season of ball tracking data we showed that home teams had significantly more possession in the forward – third which correlated with more shots and goals while the shooting and passing proficiencies were the same. Using our automatic formation analysis, we extend t his analysis and show that while teams tend to play the same formation at home as they do away, the manner in which they execute the formation is significantly different. Specifically, we show that the position of the formation of teams at home is significantly higher up the field compared to when they play away. This conservative approach at away games suggests that coaches aim to win their home games and draw their away games. Additionally, we also show that our method can visually summarize a game which gives an indication of dominance and tactics. While enabling new discoveries of team behavior which can enhance analysis, it is also worth mentioning that our automatic formation detection method is the first to be developed.

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