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# Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart

by
Ian Ayres

Why would a casino try and stop you from losing? How can a mathematical formula find your future spouse? Would you know if a statistical analysis blackballed you from a job you wanted?

Today, number crunching affects your life in ways you might never imagine. In this lively and groundbreaking new book, economist Ian Ayres shows how today's best and brightest organizations ...more

Today, number crunching affects your life in ways you might never imagine. In this lively and groundbreaking new book, economist Ian Ayres shows how today's best and brightest organizations ...more

Hardcover, 272 pages

Published
August 28th 2007
by Bantam
(first published January 1st 2007)

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## Community Reviews

(showing
1-30
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3,000)

*Freakonomics*, and makes his professional association with Steven Levitt known frequently. What comes out is a repetitive book on applied mathematics fleshed out with anecdotes and descriptions of research. It's okay, but nothing groundbreaking.

According to Ayres, supercrunching involve ...more

While my inner merchant delights at the knowledge that huge data-masse ...more

I loved the quiz on p. 113 that tested a person's ability to make unbiased estimates. It's shocking how inaccurate and overconfident I was with my own estimates.

Overall, I thought this was a well-written and researched book that really opens my eyes to the predictability of our world based on statistical data regression. It' ...more

Jan 10, 2010
Trevor
rated it
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
economics,
behavioural-economics

The best of this one is his discussion of the 100,000 lives campaign (http://www.ihi.org/IHI/Programs/Campa...) which I didn’t really know about until Jim put me onto this book. A previous book I had read said that hospitals were trying to do something to improve their safety record in line with that of airlines, but the previous book didn’t mention this campaign as what was being proposed. I particularly like their slogan, ‘Some is not a number, soon is not a time’. The discussion of this campa
...more

I've noticed a theme in my reading lately. I'm apparently getting fed up with learning just how poorly our intuitions work (Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, etc.) and am looking for ideas about how to overcome those fallibilities. So I read a couple of books by Dr. Nortin M. Hadler and learned about how much medicine & health care rely on bad science. ...more

Ayres uses the words "Super Crunching" (over and over) to refer to the act of analyzing large data sets to make evidence-based conclusions about things that ...more

The first few chapters are what hooked me. They are filled with examples of real-world ...more

Apr 02, 2010
Kelly V
rated it
4 of 5 stars

Recommends it for:
people who want to be in the know about cutting-edge data analysis techniques and uses

This was quite an interesting book about the field of data mining, from a very applications perspective. In other words, it was not technical at all. Ayres explained a few mathematical concepts that are fundamental to "number crunching", but he did so in a simple and non-intimidating way. The book was clearly written not for scientists or engineers, but for social scientists and businesspeople who would benefit from doing extensive analysis of their data. Ayres is actually quite passionate about
...more

The four interesting things I found in it:

1. The author went over a study done on Greyhound racing, experts vs. a computer model for predicting the winner. All the experts lost and the computer model make a 25% profit. My question: this is a freaking money machine! Why would you ever publish this study? Why not just capitalize on it? Something fishy was definitely going on.

2. All the way at the end of the book he goe ...more

I have a near compulsion to look for trends in everything with the goal of forecasting future outcomes. I study patterns looking to predict what will happen next. I loved Mario Livio’s book, The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number, am fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence and the study of probabilities. I guess I’m a manqué statistician at heart.

Although I enjoyed this book, I did have hi ...more

__The World is Flat__by Thomas Freidman. Immediately, I made a mental note to find and read this book about the impact of computing power on everyday lives. Algorithms, formulas, yikes! (I have a bit of a math phobia.) Thank goodness this book breaks down complex ideas into understandable and applicable explanations.

A wide variety of stories about how the computer is enabling huge changes in our schools, businesses, purchases ...more

It should be no surprise that statistics provides some immensely powerful tools. The Internet is chock-full of ingenuitive applications of statistics—from Am ...more

Ayres makes the argument for how evidence-based outcomes based on large controlled datasets are the way of the future. He provides a broad range of examples in education, health, and politics.

The first part of the book he does a nice job talking about how technology has made this new movement possible. He talks about needing more Super Crunching in all avenues despite the how difficult and expensive execut ...more

One of my favorite examples was how casinos are computing individual gambler's "pain points" - t ...more

It helps you understand while data-driven decision making is important and how businesses today are taking decisions based on data. The data could either be lying in the data warehouse which can be mined for insights or in other case the data is not readily available but c ...more

But I found the author to be incredibly annoying to read. It seems like he attended the Malcolm Gladwell School of Coining Cute Phrases to Describe Simple Concepts. He makes up the phrase "Super Cruncher", then proceeds to use it ad nauseum. I picked a ...more

And the examples of the applicability of data analysis showcasted are truly enticing, my personal favourites being the poverty eradication in Mexic, the evidence based medic ...more

May 30, 2011
Chrissy
rated it
3 of 5 stars

Recommends it for:
the "statistically uninitiated," as the author calls them

An interesting, if repetitive, book about the practical applications of statistics, ranging from business to government policy, from law to internet searches. It contains a large number of fascinating (and occasionally horrifying) pieces of information, enough to satisfy a basic curiosity about how statistics are revolutionizing decision-making in fields as diverse as Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking and poverty reduction, but not enough to really appeal deeply to those who already use statistic
...more

Written by Yale Law School professor and econometrician Ian Ayres, Super Crunchers introduces us to huge amounts of data that have been collected and shows us how these statistics can be used to make accurate predictions about everyday things. Some of the examples Ayres uses are how these scores of ...more

*how*these numbers are crunched, just how the results can be used. The only thing I learned here was the concept of "making your own data" using randomized t ...more

The cheesy subtitle makes it sound like a bad self-help book, but it's really a good, broad overview of the different ways that people are starting to use statistics more heavily in their decision-making. Basically, he explains that people are able to collect and store loads more data than ever before, so the "Super Crunchers" are fitting very accurate equations to the data -- and many of their formulas are better at making accurate predictions than season ...more

The work takes a bullish attitude towards data-mining techniques and applications. It is claimed that big data means quick profits for all, but problems are swept under the carpet until late chapters. All that glistens isn't gold. Making it easier to satisfy short-term de ...more

geek already, and this book stated a lot of the obvious for me; using

data and performing statistical analysis of that data enables

corporations, and people to make better informed decisions. Throughout

the book he gives various examples of different businesses and people

using data to make better decisions.

He, for example, gives an example of how Monster.com provided random

variations of their website to visitors of their site, and based on

the number of click ...more

One concern: While I absolutely agree that most Americans don't have a good understanding of what standard deviation i ...more

The basic, and sometimes depressing argument, is that expertise rarely outperforms or even matches a good regression or randomized A/B test. As computing power and storage space ge ...more

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May 01, 2009 09:22AM

Aug 11, 2011 09:45PM