Skip to main content

The CCE Review report

Today, the Independent Climate Change Email Review report was issued. As a bit of background I'll point you to some of my old blog posts on this:

1. Met Office confirms that the station errors in CRUTEM3 are incorrectly calculated

2. Something a bit confusing from UEA/CRU

3. Something odd in CRUTEM3 station errors

4. New version of CRUTEM3 and HADCRUT3

5. Well, I was right about one thing

6. Bugs in the software flash the message "Something's out there"

7. Whoops. There's a third bug in that code

And here's what one of the people involved in the report wrote:

First, climategate reveals the urgent demand by a new breed of citizen-scientist for access to the raw data scientists use to do their work. Simply accepting a scientist's assurance that data are accurate and reliable is no longer enough. Scientists will have to make their data available for independent audit.

Second, climategate shows that science must change its idea of accountability. Traditionally, scientists have been accountable only to one another. But with the advent of new critical public voices in science – the birth of the blogosphere, for example – scientists must redefine who is a legitimate critic and who isn't. It is easy to brand the blogosphere as universally damaging and defamatory. But climategate has shown that while some critics do enjoy abusing scientists, others ask tough and illuminating questions, exposing important errors and elisions. These critics have an important part to play in shaping scientific debate and dialogue.

The report itself says:

37. Making source code publicly available. We believe that, at the point of publication, enough information should be available to reconstruct the process of analysis. This may be a full description of algorithms and/or software programs where appropriate. We note the action of NASA‘s Goddard Institute for Space Science in making the source code used to generate the GISTEMP gridded dataset publically available. We also note the recommendation of the US National Academy of Sciences in its report ―Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age that: “…the default assumption should be that research data, methods (including the techniques, procedures and tools that have been used to collect, generate or analyze data, such as models, computer code and input data) and other information integral to a publically reported result will be publically accessible when results are reported." We commend this approach to CRU.

Good.

Interestingly, Sir Muir Russell's review did what I did: they wrote code (in their case in C++) to reproduce CRUTEM3 (see Appendix 7). Unfortunately, they didn't go all the way to check the error ranges and find the bug that Ilya Goz and I found.

PS I asked the review if they would give me a copy of the C++ code (in the spirit of openness :-)

Comments

Phil said…
It's a shame that they didn't practice what they preach and include the code referred to in Appendix Seven. I hope they put it up on their website for peer review.

Popular posts from this blog

Your last name contains invalid characters

My last name is "Graham-Cumming". But here's a typical form response when I enter it:


Does the web site have any idea how rude it is to claim that my last name contains invalid characters? Clearly not. What they actually meant is: our web site will not accept that hyphen in your last name. But do they say that? No, of course not. They decide to shove in my face the claim that there's something wrong with my name.

There's nothing wrong with my name, just as there's nothing wrong with someone whose first name is Jean-Marie, or someone whose last name is O'Reilly.

What is wrong is that way this is being handled. If the system can't cope with non-letters and spaces it needs to say that. How about the following error message:

Our system is unable to process last names that contain non-letters, please replace them with spaces.

Don't blame me for having a last name that your system doesn't like, whose fault is that? Saying "Your last name …

All the symmetrical watch faces (and code to generate them)

If you ever look at pictures of clocks and watches in advertising they are set to roughly 10:10 which is meant to be the most attractive (smiling!) position for the hands. They are actually set to 10:09.14 if the hands are truly symmetrical. CC BY 2.0image by Shinji
I wanted to know what all the possible symmetrical watch faces are and so I wrote some code using Processing. Here's the output (there's one watch face missing, 00:00 or 12:00, because it's very boring):



The key to writing this is to figure out the relationship between the hour and minute hands when the watch face is symmetrical. In an hour the minute hand moves through 360° and the hour hand moves through 30° (12 hours are shown on the watch face and 360/12 = 30).
The core loop inside the program is this:   for (int h = 0; h <= 12; h++) {
    float m = (360-30*float(h))*2/13;
    int s = round(60*(m-floor(m)));
    int col = h%6;
    int row = floor(h/6);
    draw_clock((r+f)*(2*col+1), (r+f)*(row*2+1), r, h, floor(m…

The Elevator Button Problem

User interface design is hard. It's hard because people perceive apparently simple things very differently. For example, take a look at this interface to an elevator:


From flickr

Now imagine the following situation. You are on the third floor of this building and you wish to go to the tenth. The elevator is on the fifth floor and there's an indicator that tells you where it is. Which button do you press?

Most people probably say: "press up" since they want to go up. Not long ago I watched someone do the opposite and questioned them about their behavior. They said: "well the elevator is on the fifth floor and I am on the third, so I want it to come down to me".

Much can be learnt about the design of user interfaces by considering this, apparently, simple interface. If you think about the elevator button problem you'll find that something so simple has hidden depths. How do people learn about elevator calling? What's the right amount of informati…