From Correlation to Causation through stories and math

Correlation and causation are two concepts that people often mixup in their minds. I must admit that I myself have been guilty about this, and it unlikely that I would ever entirely grow out of it as it is wired deeply into our psychology. Let me use this article to briefly emphasise what the concepts of correlation and causation means, some interesting stories that have emerged from people misunderstanding these concepts and an algorithm that attempts to find causal relationship using correlation information. Here is a story that I heard a professor of mine, Prof. Dr. Ernst-Jan Camiel Wit, tell us during a lecture. There was a school that was involved in a study to see if providing free mid-day meals to students, which they could choose to be subscribed to this or not. At the end of the study, both the students who subscribed to it and did not where tested for different health indicators. It was observed that the students who chose to have meals from the programme had poorer health

Thinking about developing an opensource P2P social network

It has been a while since I made a blog post. I have been occupied by my academic work and I found using my past time on non-blogging related activities more rewarding. However, since it is summer break now, and I have mostly run out of things to do, I decided to get back to being creative and work on some project.

Recently, I have been floating an idea about creating a social network that practically eliminates the requirement to have servers and databses. From a high-level, the idea is that users can host their profile on their phones and their connections can query data about the profile, send messages, form groups, and make wall post which can be viewed by anyone who is connected to the profile.

I have seen a research paper summarising quite a few projects that has attempted to create something similar. However, I observed that these would at least have a server for authenticate a user; to tell confirm if the user is who he says he is. I believe this can be eliminated by allowing users to hold on to a private key and use digital signature algorithms like Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm to prove the identity.

At the moment, I think we would need to setup something like a WebRTC server to route the messages, which would be the only server in this entire system. I am not sure if this can be removed, but I shall be actively looking into any alternatives that would allow removing this as well.

Since all the code is in the client side, I think it is better to make everything opensource. People would be able to read the source and copy it either way, and hence there is no point in not actually making the project officially opensource. Also, making it available on GitHub would potentially allow others to contribute to the project.

I have been in contact with my friends Julien, Dario, Michal and Kuntal to flush out the idea and to see if there are flaws in this. I am not sure if they would be interested in being involved in coding this; however, I will send a link to the GitHub page at a later point, after I can make a clear architecture.

It would be better to have people involved in this project in the long run, as they would probably motivate me to work on this as time passes. I am not sure if it was Ratan Tata who said this quote first, but he did say it at some point, I believe, "if you want to walk fast walk alone if you want to walk far walk together".


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