Category Archives: Miscellaneous

New Open Access Journals from the Econometric Society

As a member of the Econometric Society I received yesterday the following announce:

The Council and the Fellowship of the Econometric Society have both voted in favor of a plan for the Society to publish two open-access journals: Quantitative Economics (QE) and Theoretical Economics (TE). All voting Council members were in favor of the proposal. Among the active Fellows, 277 (66.4% of the total) cast their ballots, with 240 votes (86.6%) in favor, 30 (10.8%) against, and 7 (2.5%) abstentions. An announcement together with a description of the new journals may be found in http://www.econometricsociety.org/news1.asp?ref=81 .

QE will be started from scratch and its first issue is planned for 2010. TE has been published by the Society for Economic Theory (http://econtheory.org/ ), but is to be adopted by the Econometric Society later this year. The first issue in 2010 will be the first one as a Society journal.

This is great news.

Data Storage and Transfer Costs: Some Back of the Envelope Estimates

For large data centres a big industry player estimated costs of £22 / GB / Month = £250k / TB / Year. Majority of this was hardware and energy costs (not costs of human sysadmins). This seems quite a lot. However, Amazon S3 quote for Europe (cheaper for US):

Storage
$0.18 per GB-Month of storage used

Data Transfer
$0.100 per GB - all data transfer in

$0.170 per GB - first 10 TB / month data transfer out
$0.130 per GB - next 40 TB / month data transfer out
$0.110 per GB - next 100 TB / month data transfer out
$0.100 per GB - data transfer out / month over 150 TB

Requests
$0.012 per 1,000 PUT, POST, or LIST requests
$0.012 per 10,000 GET and all other requests*
* No charge for delete requests

Subtracting say £2 for costs of storage and transfer leaves £20 per GB Month = $40 / GBM. On Amazon’s figures this is around 235 GB of transfer (0.235 TB). A ratio of 235 to 1 on the underlying data. Not necessarily an infeasible level (235 users / byte / month). This also demonstrates that b/w costs will dwarf storage costs in most cases.

Teaching to the Test: Some (Old) Evidence from Kenya

Several years ago I read Michael Kremer’s article entitled “Randomized Evaluations of Educational Programs in Developing Countries: Some Lessons” in the 2003 AER Papers and Proceedings issue ([jstor link]( http://www.jstor.org/stable/view/3132208?seq=3)). This brief article reviewed some of the recent results of evaluating the effects of various different programs on educational outcomes in the developing world. What particularly caught my eye was this paragraph summarizing a teacher incentive program in Kenya:

Some parent-run school committees in the area provide gifts to teachers whose students perform well. Glewwe et al (2002a) evaluate a program that provided prizes to teachers in schools that performed well on exams and had low dropout rates. In theory, this type of incentive could lead teachers either to increase effort or, alternatively, to teach to the test. Empirically, teachers responded to the program not by increasing attendance, but by increasing prep sessions designed to prepare students for exams. Consistent with a model in which teachers responded to the program primarily by increasing effort devoted to manipulating test scores, rather than by increasing effort at stimulating long-term learning, test scores for pupils who had been part of the program initially increased but then fell back to levels similar to the comparison group at the end of the program. [p. 104, emphasis added]

This provides a nice ‘real-world’ example of exactly what can go wrong when providing incentives in a multi-task situation — that is one where the ‘agent’ (here the teacher) performs multiple tasks not all of which can be monitored equally. As such it should make us wary of the current trend to ever more performance-based reward structures in everything from schooling to health-care.

Some Essays from my Schooldays

About a week ago I finally got around to converting from .doc to html some of my more substantial essays from my schooldays. They’re up at http://www.rufuspollock.org/nonfiction/ and you can find more or less substantial pieces on the Vietnam War, the decline of the Liberal Party in Great Britain in the early 20th century, the school as institution, Italy in the late 19th century and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

Instructions to a Trident Submarine Commander in Case of Nuclear Attack

He is supposed to determine whether Britain is still functioning on the basis of whether or not the Today programme is still broadcasting. If it isn’t he has to retrieve from his safe the PM’s letter instructing him to: 1. Put himself under the command of the USA, if it is still there. 2. Make his way to Austrailia, if it is still there. 3. Get on with it and take out Moscow. 4. Use his own judgement.

Source: p. 17 of LRB 2002-08-08 in a review by R.W.Johnson of Percy Cradock’s Know Your Enemy: How the Joint Intelligence Committee Saw the World and Peter Hennessy’s The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War.