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Title: The importance of making testable predictions: A cautionary tale
We found a startling correlation (Pearson ρ > 0.97) between a single event in daily sea surface temperatures each spring, and peak fish egg abundance measurements the following summer, in 7 years of approximately weekly fish egg abundance data collected at Scripps Pier in La Jolla California. Even more surprising was that this event-based result persisted despite the large and variable number of fish species involved (up to 46), and the large and variable time interval between trigger and response (up to ~3 months). To mitigate potential over-fitting, we made an out-of-sample prediction beyond the publication process for the peak summer egg abundance observed at Scripps Pier in 2020 (available on bioRxiv). During peer-review, the prediction failed, and while it would be tempting to explain this away as a result of the record-breaking toxic algal bloom that occurred during the spring (9x higher concentration of dinoflagellates than ever previously recorded), a re-examination of our methodology revealed a potential source of over-fitting that had not been evaluated for robustness. This cautionary tale highlights the importance of testable true out-of-sample predictions of future values that cannot (even accidentally) be used in model fitting, and that can therefore catch model assumptions that may more » otherwise escape notice. We believe that this example can benefit the current push towards ecology as a predictive science and support the notion that predictions should live and die in the public domain, along with the models that made them. « less
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Belgrano, Andrea
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1637632 1655203 1660584
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National Science Foundation
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Shawki et al., “The Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus,” in Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology: Emerging Trends in Research and Applications, 1st ed., I. Obeid, I. Selesnick, and J. Picone, Eds. New York City, New York, USA: Springer, 2020, pp. 67 104. [2] J. Picone, T. Farkas, I. Obeid, and Y. Persidsky, “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning.” Major Research Instrumentation (MRI), Division of Computer and Network Systems, Award No. 1726188, January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2021. https://www. [3] A. Gulati et al., “Conformer: Convolution-augmented Transformer for Speech Recognition,” in Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (INTERSPEECH), 2020, pp. 5036-5040. [4] C.-J. Wu et al., “Machine Learning at Facebook: Understanding Inference at the Edge,” in Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA), 2019, pp. 331–344. [5] I. Caswell and B. Liang, “Recent Advances in Google Translate,” Google AI Blog: The latest from Google Research, 2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Aug-2021]. [6] V. Khalkhali, N. Shawki, V. Shah, M. Golmohammadi, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Low Latency Real-Time Seizure Detection Using Transfer Deep Learning,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2021, pp. 1 7. https://www.isip. [7] J. Picone, T. Farkas, I. Obeid, and Y. Persidsky, “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2020. [8] I. Hunt, S. Husain, J. Simons, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Recent Advances in the Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2019, pp. 1–4. [9] A. P. Martinez, C. Cohen, K. Z. Hanley, and X. 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