latest news

Distractions and amusements, with a sandwich and coffee.

syncopation & accordion
•
• like France, but no dog poop
• more quotes

They serve as the form for The Outbreak Poems.

On March 14th celebrate `\pi` Day. Hug `\pi`—find a way to do it.

For those who favour `\tau=2\pi` will have to postpone celebrations until July 26th. That's what you get for thinking that `\pi` is wrong. I sympathize with this position and have `\tau` day art too!

If you're not into details, you may opt to party on July 22nd, which is `\pi` approximation day (`\pi` ≈ 22/7). It's 20% more accurate that the official `\pi` day!

Finally, if you believe that `\pi = 3`, you should read why `\pi` is not equal to 3.

3
Little `\pi`,

1
what

4
can you tell us?

Welcome to this year's celebration of `\pi` and mathematics. Among the chaos of CORVID-19, this year `\pi` Day celebrations are short poetic emissions I call “piku” . They are brief pauses for the time.

Start by reading how piku are constructed and then browse submitted piku. Consider participating by submitting your own piku. All you need is a pen and a few (small) words. Very therapeutic.

But if the words here don't help, immerse yourself in my coronavirus art. It's quite catching.

If you enjoy poetry and words, see how I convert spam into poems in the style of ee cummings and if you like to see words arrange on page, look through my typographic art.

3
Piku are

1
brief

4
pauses just in

1
time.

You may know the haiku (俳句) as a short three line poem whose lines traditionally have 5, 7 and 5 syllables (specifically, morae or phonetic sounds).

On a recent trip to Japan I was looking to my environment for inspiration for this year's `\pi` Day. I also really wanted a scheme that would allow people to contribute to the art so that everyone could be both a participant and an audience.

After scribbling for a little bit (or a long while), I came up with the idea of a piku (`\pi`ku, パイク). Analogously to a haiku, the piku is poem whose structure is constrained. But in this case, the constraints are the digits of `\pi` itself.

The simplest piku is a 3 phrase poem with 3, 1 and 4 syllables, respectively. Perhaps the most trivial piku is just the list of digits.

3
Three one four

1
One

4
Five nine two six.

Specifically, Haiku count the number of phonetic sounds which isn't always the same as syllables. For example, the word "any" has two such sounds: a-ny.

If you're interested in how the counting of sounds is done in Japanese, read about marking time and beats in Haiku.

But a more fun one would be

3
A Three and

1
A

4
One and a four.

Longer words can be used, of course. But watch out for the lines that require a single syllable.

3
Numbers are

1
all

4
Equally fun.

3
Land meets sky.

1
Oh,

4
It's you again!

You can use hyphenation to work around the syllable count.

3
Memories

1
for-

4
get yourself then.

Piku is singulare tantum—its plural form is the same as its singular.

This is because its inspiration is the haiku and in Japanese nouns do not have different singular and plural forms,

3
Piku is

1
the

4
piku plural.

In general, a piku may have more than 3 lines. This reflects the fact that the digits of `\pi` do not terminate.

3
Land meets sky.

1
Oh,

4
It's you again!

1
Yes,

5
Who did you expect?

The endless piku is just waiting to be written. Well... started, at least.

The digit zero is a line with no syllables and corresponds to a compulsory verse break. But because the first zero in `\pi` is at digit 33, you wouldn't see a verse break for a while.

Therefore, you're free to introduce a verse break anywhere in the piku (this does not use up a digit). For example,

3
Hot air breeze

1
cools

4
much hotter things.

3
F 0 0

1
red

4
You add the light.

Any number, `n`, has its own nku. The rules for its construction are the same: each digit generates a line with corresponding number of syllables.

For example, the haiku is an nku for `n = 575`.

The year of your birth has an nku—you might want to try composing one to reflect on your origins.

In fact, any date (e.g. DDMMYYYY) can be made into an nku. This year's `\pi` date in this format is 14032020 and here's one possible nku.

1
Dust

4
in space vacuum

0

3
clogs alien

2
machines.

0

2
Bummer.

0

The trailing zero in the number creates a verse break at the end of a poem. This can be ignored or used to generate a blank line if the poem is set with other text on the page.

An in-depth look at my process of reacting to a bad figure — how I design a poster and tell data stories.

Building on the method I used to analyze the 2008, 2012 and 2016 U.S. Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, I explore word usagein the 2020 Debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

We are celebrating the publication of our 50th column!

To all our coauthors — thank you and see you in the next column!

*When modelling epidemics, some uncertainties matter more than others.*

Public health policy is always hampered by uncertainty. During a novel outbreak, nearly everything will be uncertain: the mode of transmission, the duration and population variability of latency, infection and protective immunity and, critically, whether the outbreak will fade out or turn into a major epidemic.

The uncertainty may be structural (which model?), parametric (what is `R_0`?), and/or operational (how well do masks work?).

This month, we continue our exploration of epidemiological models and look at how uncertainty affects forecasts of disease dynamics and optimization of intervention strategies.

We show how the impact of the uncertainty on any choice in strategy can be expressed using the Expected Value of Perfect Information (EVPI), which is the potential improvement in outcomes that could be obtained if the uncertainty is resolved before making a decision on the intervention strategy. In other words, by how much could we potentially increase effectiveness of our choice (e.g. lowering total disease burden) if we knew which model best reflects reality?

This column has an interactive supplemental component (download code) that allows you to explore the impact of uncertainty in `R_0` and immunity duration on timing and size of epidemic waves and the total burden of the outbreak and calculate EVPI for various outbreak models and scenarios.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. *Nature Methods* **17**.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Modeling infectious epidemics. *Nature Methods* **17**:455–456.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: The SEIRS model for infectious disease dynamics. *Nature Methods* **17**:557–558.

Our design on the cover of Nature Genetics's August 2020 issue is “Dichotomy of Chromatin in Color” . Thanks to Dr. Andy Mungall for suggesting this terrific title.

The cover design accompanies our report in the issue Gagliardi, A., Porter, V.L., Zong, Z. *et al.* (2020) Analysis of Ugandan cervical carcinomas identifies human papillomavirus clade–specific epigenome and transcriptome landscapes. *Nature Genetics* **52**:800–810.

*Clear, concise, legible and compelling.*

The PDF template is a poster about making posters. It provides design, typography and data visualiation tips with minimum fuss. Follow its advice until you have developed enough design sobriety and experience to know when to go your own way.