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Are one’s ntuples like one’s genitals ? December 18, 2006

Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, computers, humor, internet, personal, physics, science.

A post by Chad Orzel, over at Uncertain Principles (http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2006/12/you_cant_cook_a_cow_the_proble.php) inspired me and I left a comment there, which I wish to reproduce here.

The topic is free access to raw data used to produce scientific results. Of course, a very much debated issue, on which I have my own stand, but do not pretend to be Right.

Here’s what I had to say to Chad, answering his point that it is unclear what level of detail the accessible data should include (he made the example of particle collisions):

I agree that the level of abstraction of particle collider data needs to be agreed upon, but I still find it fascinating the idea that one might, one day, click on a figure – wherever it is posted on the web – and get access to the data used to produce it, and the code needed to make sense of it. To stick with D0’s single top signal, it is based on detailed analysis of some 600 events. To characterize these in a very detailed way, one could just refer to a high-level root ntuple, containing not particles, but jets, electrons, neutrinos (from missing Et), b-tag information. I am thinking of sort of 100 variables per event – not far from what we deal with in most analyses, after the primary reconstruction and a selection of the information we want to study in detail.

Think about it – in the future, you might just cut that information and paste into a web-based neural network or some other fancy algorithm, and then do all sort of tricks.

People like Tony Smith, who has interesting ideas about the top quark at the tevatron but no access to the data – or to details about how the results were obtained, for that matter – would be able to touch ball. Many people playing with our ntuples would just create background noise, but a few could come up with interesting new leads.

Once I heard Melissa Franklin come up with an amusing sentence, quite in her own witty-upsetting-punch-line style: “One’s [high-level] ntuples are just like one’s genitals. You may be allowed to play with them every now and then, but not too much.” I disagree with that  both ways 😉



1. Babe In The Universe - December 18, 2006

Now you know how cosmologists feel about WMAP data. The investigators sat on Year Two data for nearly 3 years, and made sure that their big releases were interpreted in terms of fashionable ideas.

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