Welcome to Milagrosoft, the Sunflower Site


New updates: If you haven't been to this site lately, here is a list of new (to the site) or updated docs:

Hello all, Rob Rucker here. This site is primarily intended to help my students learn and apply some valuable quantitative tools and ideas for use in their university course work and organizations. Learning these tools will allow you to value-add to the usual disorganized situation you are given to analyze. By value add, I mean that these tools will allow you to organize, present, and point out to your client important features of whatever it is you are given to work with. Since you are reading this, I expect that you are doing primarily knowledge work, which puts a premium on mentally penetrating to the heart/brain of the matter. For that, you need tools, intellectual tools. That's my real goal here, offering knowledge tools applicable to wrestle with batches of numbers, or batches of words ( See Exploratory Data Analysis as well as Exploratory Discourse Analysis).
Whether student or guest though, I invite you to browse the contents of this site, and hope you find the documents interesting and helpful. If you have suggestions or comments, you can contact me at the email address at the end of this page.

In a minute I will give you links to all the site documents, but first, let me explain my specific intent here. I'm an Enterprise Informatics and Research Methods professor at several western universities, with both younger and working-adult students. During each year of teaching various courses, I meet with maybe 70 or so of our older students, and sad to say, most are pretty self-conscious and uncertain about how they can use the math, statistics, and quantitative skills they (maybe) studied once, long ago!

For my graduate students, the lack of quantitative skills is especially limiting since one university ( used to !) requires a master's thesis for graduation. A thesis means research and, I have seen any number of my graduate students give up, or not even start, promising areas of research because they were uncertain about their quantitative skills.

Encountering this situation over and over, I started writing mini-tutorials mainly for master's thesis students, but also for undergraduates. Mostly, I have supplemented the assigned text books in specific areas not well understood by my students. In many cases my supplements draw together and simplify several areas not covered by a single text but still directed to a necessary assignment to be done. Beyond that, I feel drawn to introduce topics not in their textbooks at all, but should be! My agenda in all of this is to help (push!) my students to include quantitative content in their various computer oriented projects, business/work oriented projects, and master's theses.

So, I plan to do my small part in introducing or re-introducing my students to available quantitative tools that will help support their sometimes wild, qualitative conjectures and tentative arguments! Up to now, my tutorial efforts have been on an in-class basis with handouts, explanatory lectures, and exercises (too much paperwork, too many versions to keep up with). Starting with this web site, I plan to make these introductory tutorials available to all of my students, as well as interested people. All of the documents on this site ought to be considered as drafts. Each class I teach results in an update and rewrite, so check the dates shown with each doc. Sorry I can't be with each of you to explain what I meant in these docs, but the bare words and graphics may be of some help anyway.
rob rucker

Site Content

I have listed the docs on this site in rough categories. Naturally they will overlap, so your best bet is simply to read the short description and then scan the doc to see if it interests you. I have noted their upload to this site by the dates, e.g., [2008-03-19]. Many of these documents have been though numerous draft stages but I am starting over with this site.

Thesis Notes

Here are a few papers on thinking about, and then writing a masters thesis, the original focus of this site.

Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) and Statistics

I am a great admirer of the late John Tukey and his introduction of the graphic approach to gaining insight into opportunities and problems. He in turn, is the inheritor of the equally brilliant graphics work of the 18th century William Playfair. Both men have given us immensely important graphical data analysis tools that are the heart of modern graphic presentations. The word Exploratory is key here since these tools are intended to suggest questions rather than to confirm them.
As an aside, I also want to draw your attention to an important contemporary worker in this field of graphical presentation for insight and wonder, Edward Tufte. I urge you to go right out and buy all of his books, they're great.

Basic Math & Mathematica

This is a catch all for math tools used throughout various quantitative analyses. I will also show some examples from the comprehensive Mathematica math package. Currently I am working on some tutorials exploring vector analysis with a view to using vectors as the basis for a geometric approach to statistics. If you want to see how this improves statistical education, check out the text by David Saville and G. Woods, "Geometric Statistics", it's a world beater!

General Surveys and Their Statistics

This set of tutorials results from the fact that most of my thesis students wind up doing a survey of one sort or another, or maybe interviews. The Survey Question Analysis tutorial describes how to calculate some error measures based on sample sizes, as well as the inverse task of determining the sample size needed to stay within a specified error bound. See also: Exploratory Discourse Analysis for one way to handle the argument structure as found in open ended survey questions.( Note: I suggest that survey design ought to be done prior to administering the survey)! Along these lines I have noticed a number of students cooking up a survey without much consideration of how they are going to analyze and draw conclusions from it. ( Not you of course, but some other colleague!!)

For example, within the interview and survey process, people are often asked to rank their preferences on some topic. Along with this, people are often presented with alternatives to choose from based on those preferences. How to do this when there are multiple criteria underlying their choices as well as multiple levels? To gain a bit more insight into this process as well as to be able to deal with complex multilevel decision tasks, I wrote up some work by Thomas Saaty, called the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP).

Organizational Structure and Management Cybernetics

This section shows a few ideas from my early work in organizational analysis as well as earlier work in language, especially analyzing the inherent argument structure within raw text.

Java, XML, XSLT, and the usual XML Beastiary

From time to time I get to teach C, Java, XML, and JavaScript as well as HTML/CSS and the rest of the web tools. To have reference material available in one place I wrote up a few tutorials.

Manufacturing and the Service Industry: Thoughts and Tools

This section is about ideas and approaches associated with the manufacturing sector as well as the service industry. The notions of Operations Research , Lean Thinking, and 6-Sigma are included in this section. Along the way I describe a few quantitative tools that can help with various analyses. The reader may note though that this whole site consists of various tools and the ones here could just as well been placed under any of the previous headings.

The Human Condition: Thoughts and Tools

This section is about ideas and approaches associated with various branches of psychology and human factors. When I get to it, I would like to note down Abraham. Maslow's monumental contributions to psychology and management ideas based upon his principles. (He called this Eupsychian Management - good name). At some point I will compare his management ideas with those of W.E. Deming.

Reading Matter

These books and other sources are ones I have been impressed with, so you might like them too. Most of the tutorials have a reference component so these aren't really necessary, but are general good reads.



Any comments or suggestions for improvement? Send me an e-mail at robr@fastq.com