Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Epidemiology example in tech

This post is a great example of epidemiological reasoning:

When people compare the stability of Linux and Windows, they may be biased a couple ways. First, Linux is more often deployed on servers and Windows more often on desktops. So they may unintentionally be comparing Linux servers to Windows desktops. Second, they may be thinking that Linux users’ computers are more stable than Windows users’ computers, which is probably true. Linux users typically know more about computers than Windows users. They are more able to avoid problems and more able to fix them when they occur.
You see central issues in epidemiology of trying to form comparable comparison groups and trying to disentangle environmental factors.  The higher knowledge base for the Linux users is directly comparable to the healthy user effect (more informed individuals are more likely to use preventative therapies).  The differences between server versus desktop is a great example of differences in the population.  If drinkers are also more likely to smoke, sleep less, and so forth then you may well see more problems unrelated to the exposure itself. 

Epidemiology is everywhere. 

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