Does Anyone Remember...

Â…this graphic?

It was shown by my friend Lawrence Perry >>> in his Community blog on 9-Jan-12 at 12:47am: How long can Thomas Power stay No 1 on Ecademy? >>> I have Lawrence's agreement to mention him herein. My comment >>> was, "What a load of nonsense. Who cares?" Well, an Important Person did care, said so, and gave me a good kick, for which he apologised, albeit less publicly, and I forgave him, but this blog is not about that. I mention it only because attention is hereby drawn to it once again. Believe me, it is "water under the bridge". As it happens, I think I was simply misunderstood, and perhaps that is a lesson for us all: to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, and bear in mind our likely audience and their possible reactions. Can we ever attain such a high principle? According to the philosopher Jürgen Habermas >>> in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action >>>, it requires communicative competence. He argues that when speakers (and presumably also writers) are communicating successfully, they will have to defend their meaning by using these four claims.

1. That they have uttered something understandably — or their statements are intelligible; 2. That they have given other people something to understand — or are speaking something true; 3. That the speaker is therefore understandable — or their intentions are recognized and appreciated for what they are; and, 4. That they have come to an understanding with another person — or, they have used words that both actors can agree upon.

Challenging for bloggers, eh? But to get back to that graphic, and I think you will agree I have not digressed too widely, within possibly a few days, Lawrence kindly contacted me by phone and I took the opportunity to ask about it. I had been unable, any more than probably anyone else, to see what it contributed to the question of how long that nice Mr Power could retain his then current position - hence my stating it (the graphic, in context) was nonsense. Well, would you believe it, Lawrence agreed it was nonsense, and he should know; but also he said he did not know what the graphic really meant nor where it came from. Now I don't blame him for effectively falling short of Professor Habermas' ideals, for I am certain we all do. I seem to have done so with my ambiguous "nonsense" statement, probably not for the first time and maybe not the last - where would be the fun in that? But it spurred me on, to investigate what the graphic might really mean. I found out, and will show you. It has taken some time to get a Round Tuit >>> (remember them? Oh how I wish I had not mislaid mine! ;-) ), but better late than never I hope. As you will see, the original graphic is very far from nonsense in its own context, but nothing whatever to do with anyone's position in the Ecademy league. First, compare this graphic with the original one:

It is similar, apart from explicit labelling of the variables plotted, which helps clarity somewhat but still we need some indication of purpose and meaning. The graphics came from the website of a firm called Innovatrics, which works at the "cutting edge" of technology in the field of biometrics. Probably the best-known biometric technique is fingerprint recognition, and matching systems are the topic of interest. Now in automatic recognition of fingerprints or any other biometric system, and for that matter in statistical methods in research of any kind, there are four possible results to consider, as shown in the 2 x 2 matrix.

http://<a href="" title="Truth Table by nbadagio, on Flickr"><img src="" width="330" height="165" alt="Truth Table"></a>

As shown, so long as the results show a match (positive) when there really is one, and reject match (negative) when there is not, they are true. But it is possible to get a positive result when it should be negative (False Acceptance) or a negative result when it should be positive (False Rejection) - both of which need to be kept at rates as low as possible. In a trial of the system in 2004, comprising tests of all its algorithms (codified processes), the results were tabulated for Innovatrics' product in competition with some 40 others from a variety of firms. This was FVC2004 - Third International Fingerprint Verification Competition >>>; whether or not it has recurred since is not relevant. The results were plotted in a graph with horizontal axis FAR (False Acceptance Rate) and vertical axis FRR (False Rejection Rate), which means it compares how bad all the competing systems were. (The terms FMR - False Match Rate - and FNMR - False Non-Match Rate - respectively, are sometimes used.) Anything further left or down would be good. The EER (Equal Error Rate) Line shows the case when FAR = FRR. Innovatrics are justifiably proud of beating all competitors. Thus, the graphic is very far from being nonsense in its own context. But as it has nothing whatsoever to do with people's relative positions within Ecademy it was indeed nonsense in that context - all the more because there was no attempt at explaining it. The moral of the tale for bloggers is that if you include material in your blogs, either it needs to be self-explanatory, or you need to comment in clear and unambiguous terms about it; never, ever, put unrelated stuff in; and if you need to say something about it is nonsense, make it plain that you mean the specific material not the whole topic. Oh, and if you get others to write your blogs and they put obscure stuff in without telling you where it came from and why, sack them. I can understand why you might... this has taken a lot of time and no little quantity of research. Best Regards

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