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February 7, 2013

Networks of probability

Devavrat Shah arrived at Stanford University as a graduate student in computer science in 1999, just a few months after a couple of other students in the department, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, received $25 million in financing for a company that they’d started in a friend’s garage, which they

January 20, 2012

Speed limit for birds

The northern goshawk is one of nature’s diehard thrill-seekers. The formidable raptor preys on birds and small mammals, speeding through tree canopies and underbrush to catch its quarry.

September 21, 2011

Smarter robot arms

Ask someone with her hands in her lap to pick up a coffee mug on the table she’s sitting at, and she’ll extract her hand from under the table and stretch her arm out toward the mug.

August 3, 2011

The too-smart-for-its-own-good grid

In the last few years, electrical utilities have begun equipping their customers’ homes with new meters that have Internet connections and increased computational capacity.

July 8, 2011

Improving recommendation systems

Recommendation algorithms are a vital part of today’s Web, the basis of the targeted advertisements that account for most commercial sites’ revenues and of services such as Pandora, the Internet radio site that tailors song selections to listeners’ declared preferences.

November 16, 2010

How wise are crowds?

The rise of the Internet has sparked a fascination with what The New Yorker’s financial writer James Surowiecki called, in a book of the same name, “the wisdom of crowds”: the idea that aggregating or averaging the imperfect, distributed knowledge of a large group of people can often yield bett

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