Aaron Ecay

Latest posts

July 26, 2017 » Questions for aspiring temporary lecturers
Iʼve been thinking lately about temporary teaching jobs. In general, academic departments are built around the assumption that affiliations will be long-lasting and have a personal component. Thus, little attention is paid to the situation of temporary workers vis a vis departmental and university resources: in HR-speak, “onboarding.” Iʼve had mixed experiences with this aspect of jobs, and so I set out to write a list of questions that I think itʼs important for new temporary teachers to have answers to. I take as the paradigmatic case a fixed-term contract to teach one module in linguistics for one term at... Read more... (estimated reading time: 5 minutes)
June 21, 2014 » Shame, 538
The point that using spatial data visualizations can easily yield bias is well-rehearsed. (The first time it was made to me was in a middle school algebra textbook.) The basic problem is that, if you are representing the difference between two quantities, only one dimension of your data visualization should covary with the data. So you can have a vertical bar graph, where the width of rectangles is fixed but the height covaries. Here’s an example where our data are the numbers 1 and 2: library(ggplot2) d <- data.frame(Group = letters[1:2], Value = c(1,2)) ggplot(aes(x = Group, y = Value),... Read more... (estimated reading time: 4 minutes)
May 16, 2014 » DOIs come to Github
In January, I read an article entitled 3 simple things GitHub can do for science. The title is pretty self-explanatory; it proposes three concrete steps Github can take in order to increase its utility for scientific research. “It’s nice to dream,” I thought. On Wednesday, I read that Github has actually (mostly) implemented one of the three recommendations. On the occasion of this nice surprise, I’d like to reflect on what’s happened, why it’s nice, and what more there remains to do. Data availability in science As the technical sophistication of science increases, reproducing results becomes not just a matter... Read more... (estimated reading time: 3 minutes)
April 16, 2014 » Algorithmic drawing of isoglosses
I’ve been sitting in on Bill Labov’s seminar on dialect geography this semester. One of the things Bill has emphasized to the students in the class is the importance of drawing isoglosses, lines that separate linguistic regions from each other. Traditionally, isoglosses are drawn by hand according to the investigator’s subjective preferences. In the ANAE, Bill and his co-authors introduced a decision procedure for including points in an isogloss region. But it would not be correct to call this an algorithm – important decisions about where to place the drawn lines are left up to the (human) implementor of the... Read more... (estimated reading time: 6 minutes)
February 18, 2014 » Tooltips in ggplot
R has few adequate facilities for interactive visualization. This table presents an overview of many of them. Joe Fruehwald has had some success with using googleVis to display diachronic data on sound change in Philadelphia. However, in general interactive graphs are not widely used in linguistics. This post presents a case study of a certain kind of interactive graphics, with accompanying source code. Updates to this post: Feb. 18, 2014: clarify Flash problem Feb. 18, 2014: fix handling of duplicated data rows Introduction We’d like to examine Hilary Prichard’s data on the Great Vowel Shift in northern England. Specifically, we’d... Read more... (estimated reading time: 5 minutes)