# Google wants back my microphone

My “writing” work currently goes somewhere else and have little motivation to write anything here. But, there’s something that only internet can help, whether that’s through actual help or simply transferring my annoyance.

In the past few days/weeks there has been some uproar about Facebook listening to us and later subtly suggesting products about which we talked with others. With these it’s hard to point who is objective, so I’ll paste link to web searches and I’m sure you’ll find some “evidence” – Google, Bing and DuckDuckGO. Let me also suggest Reply All podcast who recently had episode on this mysteriously called Is Facebook Spying on You?. Obviously Facebook denies all of this, but they confirm having lots of information about you whether that’s from you directly or from your friends.

Facebook and I are not in good terms for a long time. It’s more a fun social experiment rather than actual social platform. Since it isn’t on my phone there’s nothing to complain about, but there’s another omnipresent God – Google. Actually I have one of its branded phone with turned on Google Assistant, so it had to be there and had to listen to me.

Long story short, I removed microphone permissions from all Google services. Obviously some weren’t happy with this, but I can’t see how this should affect their usage. Except for Google Assistant or occasional input features, nothing should care, right? No. This is really tough break up as from time to time I’m getting vocal suggestions that are close to being commands. Google calls me to when it’s safe you’ll first need to use your phone’s screen and tap the notification then you can let the Google App access some things on your device. This is especially annoying when I’m listening to podcasts or music.

In the beginning this would go on and on, but now it’s more once a day. I don’t think that it has some “time decreasing” variable build in, so it’s definitely my action. More surprising is that even if I quickly unlock phone there won’t be anything new to give permissions to. Also, it might be only happening when the phone is locked as I haven’t had this happening otherwise.

# Free AWS is good. Not awesome, but good.

Amazon with it’s Amazon Web Service (AWS) is pretty cool. It gives you access to remote machine which you don’t have to maintain. Actually you don’t have to do anything other than use it. All machines come in different flavours, but what tastes better than free? Granted that it’s extremely limited, but surely we can squeeze something out of it. Right?

AWS instances, i.e. remote machines, differ in the amount of RAM, disc space, operating system, whether they have GPU access and so on. As you can expect free tier instance is pretty low on all measure values. To be more precise free tier instance is of t2.micro type, which is a general purpose burstable instance with a single CPU, 1 GiB memory and EBS data storage (default 4Gb storage).

What is this good for? Depending on the needs, this might be good for almost anything that doesn’t require whatever these instances are lacking. (Did I help?) Obviously. So it’s not so good for heavy computations, training machine learning models or storing data. First of all, it’s better to use for these some other services like S3, DynamoDB, Lex or general machine learning. However, in case of specific requirements, it’s always better just to rent(?) more powerful instance.

These cheap instances, in my option, are very good for few tasks. The main one is web scrapping. This is tedious task that requires small CPU bandwidth, but constant access to the internet. Moreover, we don’t really want to make many calls in small time period so there needs to be a delay between each download. That’s either because we would like to avoid being detect as a bot, or for simply politeness to the owner of the server (not clogging bandwidth).

Internet is full of examples of scrappers for different type of data. I’m adding my own to the collection with r-u-listening project. The core of the project is to allow for users to find similar music to their input. It is a bit more than recommender, but more on this project probably in the future. The scraper itself is more in two parts, i.e. crawler.py and scraper.py. The database that I’m using is FreeMusicArchive.org, which goes with slogan “It’s not just free music; it’s good music”. I do recommend it and once I have something valuable I’d like to share it with them.

Unfortunately these instances don’t come with big default memory and storage. By default they have only 4 Gb storage, which when downloading mp3 tracks will be enough for about 800 tracks (assuming about 5 Mb per track). Again, as always, it depends on the task, but for machine learning algorithms we go with The more, the merrier.

As mentioned before, free tier instances allow up to 32 Gb. To do so go to EC2 service in your AWS console. In the options tab (left side) find Elastic Block Store (EBS) and select Volumes. Then select your instance and Actions, and Modify Volume. Simple, right? In all honesty, like many things in the AWS.

I’ve been using AWS for a while. Even finished AWS general course, its essentials and 3 day onsite workshop on Architecting on AWS. All is pretty simple and consistent. I like it.

# Python Empirical Mode Decomposition on Image

One of the packages I intend long term maintain and support is Python implementation of Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD) called PyEMD. I will skip introduction of the method as it has been explained in few other posts [1, 2, 3, …]. This blog entry is more about announcement of new feature which also means new version.

PyEMD version 0.2 is out. This means that PyEMD now supports 2D data (image) decomposition. Other visible improvements include documentation and more thorough testing both of code and data cases. Installation instructions are provided on the project’s webpage.

I am more than happy to include other improvements or suggestions. The next big step will be support for 3D and multi dimensional data. Please get in touch if you feel that there is something missing.

Image decomposition is based on the simple extremum definition: a point that is above (max) or below (min) surrounding. Behind the hood this is done using SciPy’s ndim maximum_filter. These are then connected using SmoothBivariateSpline. Stopping criteria can be chosen to be either based on the number of sifting operations or threshold values for mean and standard deviations.

Below is included exemplary decomposition, with the top image being input and the following two are the outputs. Exact formula with which the image was generated is
$sin(4\pi \cdot x) \cdot \left( cos(8\pi y + 8\pi x) + 3\right) + \left(5x + 2y - 0.4 \right) y + 2$. Python code generating this example is in provided in documentation in Examples/EMD2D.

# Easy clipboard in bash

Those who know me, know that I’m not a fan of using mouse. Whenever possible I try to avoid using it. Although, after years of experience, I am fluent in keyboarding there are still some tasks that I need mouse. Well, until quite recent.

The number one of annoying tasks is copying things from terminal to clipboard. Depending what exactly I needed to do with it I’d either select something with mouse and then copy, or stream output to file and then select it within editor. Some people found it weird, but yes, often copying through editor is much faster.

Revolution came with xclip. I’m not yet fluent in doing everything with it, but even with limited experience that I have it feels like a superpower. This program allows to copy into/from X clipboard.

Most unix distro have it installed by default or at least in package manager. In case of Ubuntu one can install it with:
$sudo apt-get update$ sudo apt-get install xclip 

Examples:
Copy current directory into clipboard:
$pwd | xclip Paste whatever you have in clipboard: $ xclip -o

Copy to global clipboard so you can use in any other program:
$echo$PATH | xclip -selection clipboard

If this is too long to type, one can always use aliases, i.e. setting shorter name for long command. Either type directly into terminal (but that is only for current terminal), or update your ~/.bashrc file with:
alias "c=xclip" alias "v=xclip -o" alias "cs=xclip -selection clipboard" alias "vs=xclip -o -selection clipboard" 

Then copying content of a file to a clipboard:
$cat file.txt | cs … and CTRL+V wherever one wishes. Yes, this is awesome! # Kuramoto in Python Code for Kuramoto in Python is available here or from code subpage. Explanation on how to use it is on the bottom of this post. ## Tiny introduction Kuramoto[1, 2] is probably one of the most popular and successful models for coupled oscillators. There is plenty of information about it, but in brief summary it models oscillators’ phases to be dependent on scaled phase differences for all pairs of oscillator. A while ago I have actually wrote on a specific method that I used to find optimal parameters for a Kuramoto model given some observation. (See Bayesian Dynamic Inference here.) Mathematically speaking this model is defined by a set of coupled ordinary differential equations (ODEs). Given N oscillators, dynamics for each oscillator’s phase $\phi_i$ is defined as $i\in N$ is defined by $\dot\phi_i = \omega_i + \sum_{j=0}^N k_{ij} \sin(\phi_i-\phi_j)$, where the summation is over all others oscillators. Note that one can leave coupling with itself, because in such case $\sin(\phi_i - \phi_i) = 0$, thus it doesn’t input anything into the final solution. Quick note that Kuramoto coupling model can be used to reference model with coupling function that can be represented as a sum of harmonic functions. For example, second order means that we are including both $k \sin(\Delta\phi)$ and $k^{(2)}\sin(2\Delta\phi)$. In general Kuramoto model of order $M$ would describe $\dot\phi_i = \omega_i + \sum_{m=0}^{M} \sum_{j=0}^N k_{ij}^{(m)} \sin(m (\phi_i-\phi_j))$. ## Examples Below are two examples. Both use the same core values with the exception that for the second system the coupling function defined by two harmonic terms. This naturally changes dynamics, but it shouldn’t change much average value, which is close to intrinsic frequency. Exact values for the first experiment are presented in table below. Each row is a different oscillator with initial phase Φ0 and intrinsic frequency Ω. The following columns denote coupling strength between respective pairs of oscillators. Φ0 ω k.1 k.2 k.3 1 0 28 0.2 1.1 2 π 19 0.5 -0.7 3 0 11 0.3 0.9 Phase dynamics, i.e. time derivative of obtained phases, are presented in Fig. 1. One can see that all plots are centred on intrinsic frequency with some modulations. Fig. 1. Phase dynamics, i.e. time derivative, in simple Kuramoto model. Table below shows values used in the second simulation. Extra 3 columns denote scaling values used in second harmonic. Φ0 ω k.1 k.2 k.3 k(2).1 k(2).2 k(2).3 1 0 28 0.2 1.1 -0.5 0.2 2 π 19 0.5 -0.7 -0.4 1.0 3 0 11 0.3 0.9 0.8 0.8 Again phase dynamics have been presented in a form of plot (Fig. 2). I think the difference is clear. Despite having similar mean values (approximately equal to intrinsic frequency), their modulations have change. Not only the frequency content of these modulations has changed, but also their amplitude. Fig. 2. Phase dynamics, i.e. time derivative, in Kuramoto model with included second harmonic. ## Using code Except for downloading code from either github or code subpage, one is expected to have SciPy module. Kuramoto uses it to solve differential equations. Script below shows an example of how one can use the Kuramoto module. When you run this, make sure that kuramoto.py is either in your path. Note also that most of the code is to just defining initial parameters and plotting the results. Actual execution of the module are two lines. Fig. 1 is the expected output. import numpy as np import pylab as plt from kuramoto import Kuramoto # Defining time array t0, t1, dt = 0, 40, 0.01 T = np.arange(t0, t1, dt) # Y0, W, K are initial phase, intrinsic freq and # coupling K matrix respectively Y0 = np.array([0, np.pi, 0]) W = np.array([28, 19, 11]) K1 = np.array([[ 0, 0.2, 1.1], [0.5, 0, -0.7], [0.3, 0.9, 0]]) K2 = np.array([[ 0, -0.5, 0.2], [-0.4, 0, 1.0], [ 0.8, 0.8, 0]]) K = np.dstack((K1, K2)).T # Passing parameters as a dictionary init_params = {'W':W, 'K':K, 'Y0':Y0} # Running Kuramoto model kuramoto = Kuramoto(init_params) odePhi = kuramoto.solve(T).T # Computing phase dynamics phaseDynamics = np.diff(odePhi)/dt # Plotting response nOsc = len(W) for osc in range(nOsc): plt.subplot(nOsc, 1, 1+osc) plt.plot(T[:-1], phaseDynamics[osc]) plt.ylabel("$\dot\phi_{%i}\$" %(osc+1))
plt.show()


[1] Y. Kuramoto, “Chemical Oscillations, Waves, and Turbulence,” 1984, doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-69689-3.
[2] Steven H. Strogatz, “From Kuramoto to Crawford: exploring the onset of synchronization in populations of coupled oscillators,” 2000, doi: 10.1016/S0167-2789(00)00094-4.

# Matrix Multiplication with Python 3.5

Only recently I have started to use Python 3. It’s been out for good 8+ years and all these excuses about incompatibility with some packages were just lazy. Most packages I use are already ported and if I ever find that something is incompatible… well, I’ll think then. But for now let me pat myself on the back for this great leap, because:

In Python 3.5.3 (released today) there is an operator for matrix multiplication! Check out: PEP 465 — A dedicated infix operator for matrix multiplication. The choice of operator, @, is a bit unfortunate, because of the decorators and general association with reference/internet, but seeing how few possibilities are left it’s probably the best choice.

Yes, this is big news for me. The number of times I confused myself with my own matrix operations is just too damn high! I cannot agree more with the author of the PEP 465, so let my shamelessly copy&paste (paraphrased) his reasoning. Behold!

(…) encounter many mathematical formulas that look like:

S = ( H β r ) T ( H V H T ) − 1 ( H β r )

Here the various variables are all vectors or matrices (details for the curious: [5] ).

Now we need to write code to perform this calculation. In current numpy, matrix multiplication can be performed using either the function or method call syntax. Neither provides a particularly readable translation of the formula:

import numpy as np
from numpy.linalg import inv, solve

# Using dot function:
S = np.dot((np.dot(H, beta) - r).T,
np.dot(inv(np.dot(np.dot(H, V), H.T)), np.dot(H, beta) - r))

# Using dot method:
S = (H.dot(beta) - r).T.dot(inv(H.dot(V).dot(H.T))).dot(H.dot(beta) - r)


With the @ operator, the direct translation of the above formula becomes:

S = (H @ beta - r).T @ inv(H @ V @ H.T) @ (H @ beta - r)


Notice that there is now a transparent, 1-to-1 mapping between the symbols in the original formula and the code that implements it.

Of course, an experienced programmer will probably notice that this is not the best way to compute this expression. The repeated computation of H β r should perhaps be factored out; and, expressions of the form dot(inv(A), B) should almost always be replaced by the more numerically stable solve(A, B) . When using @ , performing these two refactorings gives us:

# Version 1 (as above)
S = (H @ beta - r).T @ inv(H @ V @ H.T) @ (H @ beta - r)

# Version 2
trans_coef = H @ beta - r
S = trans_coef.T @ inv(H @ V @ H.T) @ trans_coef

# Version 3
S = trans_coef.T @ solve(H @ V @ H.T, trans_coef)


Notice that when comparing between each pair of steps, it’s very easy to see exactly what was changed. If we apply the equivalent transformations to the code using the .dot method, then the changes are much harder to read out or verify for correctness:

# Version 1 (as above)
S = (H.dot(beta) - r).T.dot(inv(H.dot(V).dot(H.T))).dot(H.dot(beta) - r)

# Version 2
trans_coef = H.dot(beta) - r
S = trans_coef.T.dot(inv(H.dot(V).dot(H.T))).dot(trans_coef)

# Version 3
S = trans_coef.T.dot(solve(H.dot(V).dot(H.T)), trans_coef)


Readability counts! The statements using @ are shorter, contain more whitespace, can be directly and easily compared both to each other and to the textbook formula, and contain only meaningful parentheses. This last point is particularly important for readability: when using function-call syntax, the required parentheses on every operation create visual clutter that makes it very difficult to parse out the overall structure of the formula by eye, even for a relatively simple formula like this one. Eyes are terrible at parsing non-regular languages. I made and caught many errors while trying to write out the ‘dot’ formulas above. I know they still contain at least one error, maybe more. (Exercise: find it. Or them.) The @ examples, by contrast, are not only correct, they’re obviously correct at a glance.

Again: yes!