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Information Retrieval with Verbose Queries

May 23, 2015 Comments off

Information Retrieval with Verbose Queries
Source: Microsoft Research

Recently, the focus of many novel search applications shifted from short keyword queries to verbose natural language queries. Examples include question answering systems and dialogue systems, voice search on mobile devices and entity search engines like Facebook’s Graph Search or Google’s Knowledge Graph. However the performance of textbook information retrieval techniques for such verbose queries is not as good as that for their shorter counterparts. Thus, effective handling of verbose queries has become a critical factor for adoption of information retrieval techniques in this new breed of search applications. Over the past decade, the information retrieval community has deeply explored the problem of transforming natural language verbose queries using operations like reduction, weighting, expansion, reformulation and segmentation into more effective structural representations. However, thus far, there was not a coherent and organized tutorial on this topic. In this tutorial, we aim to put together various research pieces of the puzzle, provide a comprehensive and structured overview of various proposed methods, and also list various application scenarios where effective verbose query processing can make a significant difference.

The High Burden of State and Federal Capital Gains Tax Rates in the United States

May 22, 2015 Comments off

The High Burden of State and Federal Capital Gains Tax Rates in the United States
Source: Tax Foundation

Key Findings

  • The average combined federal, state, and local top marginal tax rate on long-term capital gains in the United States is 28.6 percent – 6th highest in the OECD.
  • This is more than 10 percentage points higher than the simple average across industrialized nations of 18.4 percent, and 5 percentage points higher than the weighted average.
  • Nine industrialized countries exempt long-term capital gains from taxation.
  • California has the 3rd highest top marginal capital gains tax rate in the industrialized world at 33 percent.
  • The taxation of capital gains places a double-tax on corporate income, increases the cost of capital, and reduces investment in the economy.
  • The President’s FY 2016 budget would increase capital gains tax rates in the United States from 28.6 percent to 32.8, the 5th highest rate in the OECD.

2015 Retirement Confidence Survey — 2015 Results

May 22, 2015 Comments off

2015 Retirement Confidence Survey — 2015 Results
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute
From press release (PDF):

American workers and retirees are expressing higher confidence about their ability to afford retirement this year, even though there is little sign they are taking the necessary steps to achieve that goal, according to the 25th annual Retirement Confidence Survey—the longest-running survey of its kind.

A key factor in American’s outlook on retirement is whether or not they have a retirement savings plan. The 2015 RCS by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates finds that as the nation’s retirement confidence continues to rebound from the record lows experienced between 2009 and 2013, the increasing optimism is a result of those who indicate they and/or their spouse have a retirement plan, such as a defined contribution (401(k)-type) plan, defined benefit (pension) plan, or individual retirement account (IRA).

A Look at the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America

May 21, 2015 Comments off

A Look at the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

  • This report takes a comprehensive look at the financial situation of older Americans at the end of their lives. In particular, it documents the percentage of households with a member who recently died with few or no assets. It also documents the income, debt, home-ownership rates, net home equity, and dependency on Social Security for households that experienced a recent death.
  • Significant findings include that among all those who died at ages 85 or above, 20.6 percent had no non-housing assets and 12.2 percent had no assets left. Among singles who died at or above age 85, 24.6 percent had no non-housing assets left and 16.7 percent had no assets left.
  • Data show those who died at earlier ages were generally worse off financially: 29.8 percent of households that lost a member between ages 50 and 64 had no assets left. Households with at least one member who died earlier also had significantly lower income than households with all surviving members.
  • The report shows that among singles who died at ages 85 or above, 9.1 percent had outstanding debt (other than mortgage debt) and the average debt amount for them was $6,368.
  • The report also shows that the importance of Social Security to older households cannot be overstated. For recently deceased singles, it provided at least two-thirds of their household income. Couple households above 75 with deceased members received more than 60 percent of their household income from Social Security.

Trends in Social Security Claiming

May 21, 2015 Comments off

Trends in Social Security Claiming
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Over the past 25 years, the average retirement age for U.S. workers has been rising, a trend that should align with when people first claim Social Security.
  • But the percentage of all initial claimants who are age 62 shows little change until recently.
  • A better metric to capture claiming behavior over time – when the population is aging – is the percentage of workers turning age 62 who claim at 62.
  • This measure, based on unpublished Social Security data, shows a steep decline in claiming at 62 since the mid-1990s: from 56 percent to 36 percent for men.
  • In short, while more than a third of workers still claim right away, a growing number are waiting until their mid-60s or later.

Retirement Throughout the Ages: Expectations and Preparations of American Workers

May 21, 2015 Comments off

Retirement Throughout the Ages: Expectations and Preparations of American Workers
Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies

The 16th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey finds American workers are continuing to recover from the Great Recession and its aftereffects. While the economy is recovering, the U.S. retirement landscape is also continuing to evolve, with increases in life expectancies, the need for Social Security reform, and an even greater need for individuals and families to plan and save for their future financial security. Most workers are rising to the challenge by savings, but are they saving enough? Are they properly planning?

Workers of all ages face opportunities and challenges for improving their retirement outlook. As we progress through our working lives, our circumstances change over time with age. While workers in their twenties are embarking on their careers with decades to plan and save, retirement for workers in their fifties and sixties is much closer on the horizon, with many needing to shore up the size of their nest eggs.

This study examines workers in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties and older to compare and contrast their retirement preparations and shed light on how they can navigate the future and improve their retirement outlook.

Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape

May 21, 2015 Comments off

Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, have a host of applications including law enforcement, land surveillance, wildlife tracking, search and rescue operations, disaster response, border patrol and photography.

State legislatures across the country are debating if and how UAS technology should be regulated, taking into account the benefits of their use, privacy concerns and their potential economic impact. So far, 22 states have enacted laws addressing UAS issues. Common issues addressed in the legislation include defining what a UAS, UAV or drone is, how they can be used by law enforcement or other state agencies, how they can be used by the general public and regulations for their use in hunting game.

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