Asset management, but not the kind you think

We have been discussing it with a colleague how it would be possible to automatically detect the potholes of large road networks. Last week at the INTERGEO exhibition, I discovered three companies which offer this service. In this market survey, I summarise what I found out about them.

I returned last week from the 25th INTERGEO trade show from Stuttgart. INTERGEO combines a trade fair with a conference over three days. It claims to be the world’s largest event for geodesy, geoinformation and land management. It is held in a different city in Germany every year.

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What do you do against ocean plastic pollution? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

OPD_ElEjido_Almerimar__Spain_20190414_v3
Mar de plástico, the “sea of plastic” of greenhouses around El Ejido, Almería, Spain, highlighted using my developmental Ocean Plastic Detector algorithm.

I am developing an artificial intelligence solution that detects floating plastic in the sea in freely available satellite images. As I am doing this in a voluntary capacity, if you have better financial means than I, then I encourage you to consider donating to the project. The above photo is also `for sale’ (available for licencing at a maximum resolution of 1000×1500 pixels). While I describe the technical side of the project over there, here the focus is on how we stand with plastic pollution.
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Statistical estimation by imitation

Parameter estimation in a subcritical percolation model with colouring, or cross-contamination rate estimation for microfluidics

We have just published a research paper1 about a nice combination of statistics and applied probability theory. The story opens with a novel mathematical model to quantify unwanted cross-contamination within lab-on-a-chip microfluidic devices. We apply the method of simulated moments (MSM) to estimate the parameters of the model. This method uses computer simulation with many different parameter proposals until the simulated data is close enough to the observed data. Our main contribution is that we prove the statistical consistency (`correctness’) of this method. Proving that the estimate will converge with probability 1 to the true parameter value as the sample size tends to infinity was a challenge because of the dependence among our random sample’s variables.

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The price of moving to permanent summertime

The result of the European Commission’s Public Consultation on summertime arrangements was released today. In my opinion European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are reading too much into the non-binding and non-representative result. At this point, the realistic question to formulate would be: a) would you accept a time zone boundary splitting Western Europe as the price of ending the biannual clock changes, or b) do you prefer the current arrangement?

The consultation

The European Commission held a public consultation from 4th July until 16th August (6 weeks) to find out what the European citizens and stakeholders thought about the current system of daylight saving time. I really wonder if they achieved their goal. Continue reading

Wie aus 6 Stellen ich weiß gar nicht mehr wieviele werden

Die Geschichte entfaltet sich an der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn vor meinen Augen wie ein car crash in slow motion. Sie zeigt Probleme auf, die symptomatisch für den gesamten Arbeitsmarkt im deutschen Hochschulwesen sind. Die Schwierigkeiten mit befristeten Stellen, die NachwuchsforscherInnen bewältigen müssen, um am universitären Arbeitsmarkt Fuß fassen zu können, sind hinlänglich bekannt. Die bizarren Anreize der Beteiligten führen zu langsamer Auswertung der Bewerbungen und ausgeschriebene Stellen gehen vorübergehend, aber für lange Zeitdauer, verloren.

Ich will nicht mehr schweigen. Ich habe überlegt, ob ich auf Englisch oder auf Deutsch nicht mehr schweigen soll. Ich habe mich für Deutsch entschieden, damit Entscheidungsträger (auch in der Wissenschaftspolitik) die Probematik als ihre eigene annehmen werden.

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Santa’s Christmas delivery route revealed

Data visualisation meets children’s curiosity. We immerse ourselves in geoinformatics to find out how postal services in the USA, in Germany and in Hungary carved their countries into mosaics of postal code areas. Visually striking maps emerge from the opaque depths of numerical data.

Whoever still sends letters by post will notice that addresses closest to you share your postal code or differ only slightly, but opposite corners of your country will have very different codes. How do postal services cover countries with postal codes?

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Non-minimum-phase dynamics in an inflammation model

Inflammation is the innate immune system’s response to tissue damage caused by trauma or infection. Thinking about it as the quickly receding rash after an insect bite detracts from the major antagonistic role it plays in medicine. As Baldur Tumi Baldursson of the National University Hospital of Iceland put it, `I tell my students, your work is inflammation. Practically all of internal medicine is just fighting inflammation.’

Inflammation is a complex process involving different cell types, mediator molecules and changes in the permeability of capillaries and affected tissue. This reaction has to be ramped up quickly to defend our body, but it must also be kept under strict control to prevent immune cells causing tissue damage themselves. On occasion, things go wrong and a patient is left with chronic, abnormal inflammation: inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease or rheumatoid arthritis are a few debilitating examples.

A mathematical model of inflammation control

These notes extend the findings of three researchers from Britain—Joanne Dunster (Reading), Helen Byrne (Oxford) and John King (Nottingham)—using control theoretical insights, and perhaps contribute a new aspect to our understanding of the problem. Their 2014 paper1 drew attention to a shift from understanding inflammation resolution as a passive process to an active, anti-inflammatory mechanism. Continue reading