Article

Caroline Oliver
Caroline Oliver 20 February 2013

Fuzzy Math

Those who were in America when George W. Bush described Al Gore's economic figures as "fuzzy math," will remember how whilst he kept repeating the phrase, he never once discussed Gore's economic reasoning; a rather disconcerting situation, especially when framed in the context of his claim that as President, he would be a leader of educational reform.

William Thurston a professor of mathematics at the University of California subsequently quipped:
 
“I gradually came to understand that by “fuzzy math,” Mr. Bush meant, “Math is confusing and fuzzy, so ignore it.”
 
These days we sometimes see “fuzzy data.” Data represented by stories and anecdotes because they are much easier to understand. It’s a form of ’cooking the books’ to overstate incomplete or overly reductionist data, a topic we already touched upon in our February 7th blog: The Data-ing Game
 
“‘…Keeping it simple stupid,’ reduces the dimensionality, it focuses on the noise, rather than on the signals, which could also encourage people to dangerously shoe-horn rules into data, to support the outcome they want to see.”
 
However, the term ‘fuzzy data’ does actually exist and it relates to soft computing. This differs from conventional (hard) computing in that it is tolerant of imprecision, uncertainty and approximation.
 
“Fuzzy Sets play a significant role in Data Mining. It is widely recognized that many real world relations are intrinsically fuzzy. Fuzzy Sets and Fuzzy Logic are also considered as a need to represent the inherent non random uncertainty which lies in most part of information and decision processes,” explains Miguel Delgado, of the Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing.
 
Analysing data involves complex and specialist skills, and also comes with implicit responsibility. Research integrity is key in how raw data is chosen, evaluated and interpreted into meaningful and significant conclusions that other researchers and the public can understand and use.
 
So our advice when confronted with a trade-off between “noise” rather than signals?

You do the math.

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
Year’s Best Tech Gadgets at CES 2017 Revealed

Year’s Best Tech Gadgets at CES 2017 Revealed

The biggest tech event of the year, CES 2017 showcased a wide assortment of new gadgets, Cars and TVs that will leave you spellbound.

Alesia Nik
Alesia Nik 16 January 2017
Read more
4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

It goes without saying that a company can't do without digital marketing in today's world.

Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 5 November 2014
Read more
Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

What's the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and why does it matter? The answers may surprise you.

Julie Cave
Julie Cave 14 July 2016
Read more
A Look At Top Mobile App Development Trends for 2017

A Look At Top Mobile App Development Trends for 2017

The demand for apps is increasing at a rapid pace and there are some mobile app development trends to watch out for in 2017.

Alesia Nik
Alesia Nik 18 January 2017
Read more
Android vs. iOS: Smartphones, Which And Why

Android vs. iOS: Smartphones, Which And Why

You’re in the market looking for a new smartphone. Here's the question, which smartphone OS should you invest your money in?

Jenny Granados
Jenny Granados 19 January 2017
Read more