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Interpreting The Predictions Of Deep Neural Networks

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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

Tommaso Dorigo is an experimental particle physicist, who works for the INFN at the University of Padova, and collaborates with the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC. He coordinates the European network... Read More »

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"Excluding wrong Higgs boson mass hypotheses is starting to feel like explaining how to make the chocolate mousse by compiling a list of all the wrong ingredients."

T. D., TEDx Flanders, Sept. 24th 2011
A well-known HEP rule says that yesterday's searched new processes will be tomorrow's annoying irreducible backgrounds; but since I am an optimist, I always see the glass half-full and feel compelled to add that today they are pleasing high-statistics signals. Take single top quark production: the Tevatron experimentalists (you can include me in the lot) banged their head for a decade trying to measure it; they finally succeeded, but the signal always remained a small excess of events in the tail of a highly-refined multi-variable discriminator.
[Introduction: I published the text below last Monday, when the news of this controversial new measurement had spread in the corridors of physics departments, as well as in the threads of popular HEP blogs. I felt I was not doing anything wrong, since all I was reporting were facts, with a cautious opinion on my part. I was however forced to take it down only a few hours afterwards, due to a kind of pressure I could not ignore, my own job being at stake. I understand that the experiment who did this measurement was not too happy to see the news in print before they wanted to, but then again the fault is theirs. And in retrospect, what damage did I cause with the post below ?
The Collider Detector at Fermilab, CDF for insiders, is the longest lasting physics experiment ever (yes, I know about the pitch drop and no, I do not consider that a physics experiment). Designed in 1979, it was assembled in the early eighties, and operated since 1985 to 2011. Now, in two weeks it will stop data taking, and soon will be decommissioned.
In two weeks I will be talking at TEDx Flanders, in the magnificent theatre of the Flemish Opera of Antwerp, Belgium. I can't wait, of course, and I have prepared a presentation which is hopefully going to be digestible, but I would hope enjoyable, for the thousand total outsiders who will listen to it in-between a couple dozen other extremely interesting performances and talks. The program is indeed quite diverse and exciting, and the event will last the full day of Saturday, Sept. 24th.
Walter Bonatti died yesterday at 81 years of age. One of Italy's greatest "old style" climbers, Bonatti is especially famous for the first ascent to the K2, the extremely hard to climb, 8611-meter-tall mountain in the Karakorum.