Who else wants a productive and effective meeting?

Death by meeting. That may be the cause of death of many a business leader and a lot of corporate folks. Seriously, one important item that gets overlooked by the vast majority of meeting facilitators is the meeting room set up (Click to tweet this).

How a meeting is supposed to feel to the attendees should be on your mind. Seating arrangement, temperature, food, drinks, rest room access, etc impact how your attendees feel about the presentation / work shop you are trying to hold. Ever tried holding a speech in a stone cold room? Good luck with that one.

Effectiveness is largely driven by how people either face their team members or the facilitator. A class room setting will not work well if you want the team members to have a communication for interpretation or understanding. It just does not feel right.

It is these little bits of micro level information that provide each meeting attendee either with congruence to the meeting topic, or they mentally check out. Congruence is what you want to shoot for. There is a direct connection to your own personal brand and that of your company and the impression the meeting made on each team member.

It really does not take that much more time to plan this out ahead of time. In the download section please find a meeting room planning guide (there is also a meeting planner). Have fun experimenting with the different set ups. As always, please pass this info along to your friends.


Setting New Standards?

The Bre-X fraud inspired the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to set up a task force. Its objective was to take a close look at National Instrument 43-101. The Members of the task force are given in this Interim Report. Mr Morley P Carscallen, OSC’s Vice Chair, and Mr John W Carson, TSE’s Senior Vice-President, took on this task in April 1997. It is a fact that Bre-X’s bogus gold grades and Busang’s barren rock were made to look by hook and by crook like a gold resource. But who were the crooks? And who set the hook for Bre-X’s shareholders? OSC’s own qualified persons have yet to grasp the fact that geostatistics is a scientific fraud! Perhaps ironically, it was geostatistical software that made Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock to look like massive gold resource!

I have put on paper why geostatistics is a scientific fraud. A few simple steps were all it took to cook it up! The first step was to strip the variance off the distance-weighted average. The second step was to call what was left a kriged estimate to honor D G Krige and his work. Matheron taught his disciples how to work with infinite sets of kriged estimates and zero kriging variances. It’s a shame that such a simple scientific fraud underpinned what is called a new science. Matheron has never counted degrees of freedom. Neither did Stanford’s Journel, UBC’s Sinclair, and similarly gifted scholars.

Young Dr A J Sinclair took to geostatistics in the 1970s. He may well have thought that Matheron had a fresh take on applied statistics. In those days Sinclair was entrusted with teaching UBC’s students all about Earth Sciences. CIM Bulletin asked Sinclair in 1990 to review Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves. My son and I had shown how to test for spatial dependence between a set of gold grades determined in ordered rounds in a drift. Given that interleaved bulk samples had not been selected, it was impossible to estimate the intrinsic variance of gold. Professor Dr A J Sinclair, PEng, PGeo rejected our article. We were pleased that it was praised by and published in Erzmetall, October 1991.

What a surprise that David’s peers wanted to praise his 1977 Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation! Why would his peers want to praise infinite sets of simulated values? The stage for an international forum was set at McGill University on June 3-5, 1993. It was called Geostatistics for the Next Century. What is so striking in retrospect is the fact that Bre-X Minerals was already drilling in Borneo when David was praised by his peers! Nobody was interested in the properties of variances in 1993! Yet, the additive property of variances in a measurement chain played a key role in unscrambling the Bre-X fraud.

 Measurement variance included
 Measurement variance subtracted

The Mining Standard Task Force released its Final Report in January 1999. Why had MSTF not pointed out that geostatistical software had converted Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock so slickly into a massive phantom gold resource? MSTF’s Final Report was made public in January 1999. On a positive note, Dr A J Sinclair no longer graces National Instrument 43-101. On a negative note, Setting New Standards still didn’t explain at all how the Bre-X fraud could have been nipped in the bud. So it was that the Mining Standard Task Force ended up as a farce. The properties of variances were nowhere to be found. Sinclair still teaches students at UBC’s Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences how to assume spatial dependence, krige, smooth, and rig the rules of applied statistics with impunity. So much for scientific integrity!

I have set up several sources of information on my website. Under Correspondence are listed all sorts of letters in a context of source and time. Academic freedom to teach a scientific fraud makes no sense at all. The fact that “geostatistics has flourished in the scientific literature for more than four decades” does not imply that spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets may be assumed. Neither does it imply that degrees of freedom need not be counted.

13 ways to increase productivity at work

Time is money, right? Well, not everything can or should be expressed in form of cold hard cash. One thing that is the most precious resource that we never have enough of is time.

There are plenty of time wasters every day that are annoying as they are wasting time you do not have. Here are a few concepts that can help you get another hour back per day.

  1. Make a list of the top three to five things you will get done the next day. Nothing beats being prepared for the next day.
  2. Set a time of the day that you want to use for working on a particular issue. Then provide your coworkers a visual signal that you are not available. Close the door (if you have one) and most importantly tape a sheet of paper to the door or the back of your chair with “work session in progress, please do not disturb. Set your phone to “do not disturb” and put in ear plugs if your co-workers are too loud.
  3. Declutter your desk every night. Do not let piles of paperwork and old parts let you start the next day wondering where you left off. Clean it up; once and done.
  4. Institute a To-look-at-later drawer. Clear out a drawer in your desk. I am certain you have all sorts of magazines, documents, memos, pet projects, etc that you would like to look at later. When you look at your in-box clean it out over the recycling bin for starters. Then put the really hot and important stuff on top of your desk. Put what is left in this empty drawer. After four to six weeks throw everything in the drawer out. Yes, you read this correctly. Just throw it out. If you have not needed to look at any of it this long, you do not need it. Do not think about reading it again. Just put it into recycling.
  5. Only answer e-mails that have your name in the “To” line. It will take a while for your folks to get used to this, but trust me, you will later be glad that you instituted this rule. What is the purpose of putting you in the CC field and expect that you read and react to each of these mails? That is why there is a To line. This can save you hours. People will adjust to your rule sooner than you think.
  6. Never check e-mails early in the morning unless the headline reads “emergency”. Most people will say that the early morning is their most productive time. Do not waste this time checking mail. If you do, you will find yourself having answered mails and it is almost lunch time. Before you know it you will not get your work done anymore. Check it midday. It takes discipline, but most mails do not need your input anyway because people are too lazy to look for information themselves and they rather ask you to save time – that is your time!
  7. Let new vendors sent you a mail or ask for their web page. Vendors love to speak to you in person. Unless you asked for them to call you, most of those calls cost you time with very little return on your time investment. Get them to drop you a mail and / or ask for their web page information. Take a look at it right as you speak and bookmark it for later use.
  8. Install a second monitor. If you have to beg for a second monitor for your computer. It saves so much time to be able to look at two programs, documents etc. It will do wonders for your stress level as well.
  9. Get Swype for your mobile smart phone or other mobile devices. Instead of typing you just need to swipe on your keyboard. http://www.swype.com/
  10. Tell your meeting appointments where you are and how close you are to making the next meeting without having to call. Use Glympse. It works with any software and phone. http://glympse.com/
  11. Use Pocket for looking at all the web sites, etc you get mailed at a time when it is convenient for you. It keeps track of the sites and you do not have to bookmark them. http://getpocket.com
  12. Use Doodle for setting up meeting across all mail platforms. A great time saver that lets your meeting participants pick a meeting time that is convenient for everyone.  http://www.doodle.com/
  13. Use Wikisend for sending large files up to 100mb. It is a free service and saves many a headaches when you have large files to share with others. http://wikisend.com/

Some things you cannot change at work and they cost you time. Then there are others that you have control over. Make sure to eliminate as many time wasters as possible. The future has not happened yet and the past is the past. You only have the current moment. Make it count and use any tools to give you more time to dedicate to really important matters.


To krige or not to krige?

Not only is it a verb with a touch of a noun but it is also a true eponym. Matheron had written in 1960 what he himself had called Krigeage d’un panneau rectangulaire par sa périphérie. Nowadays it is posted as Note géostatistique No 28. An anthology of Matheron’s life and time, and of his creation of geostatistics, is posted on a massive website. Danie G Krige had put together a Preface to David’s 1977 Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation. References to Krige pop up on many pages. Journel’s 1978 Mining Geostatistics not only refers to Krige but also to the zero kriging variance.

Geostatistical software made Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock look like a massive gold resource. So why had geostatistics been hailed as a new science in the 1970s. The Bre-X scam was well on its way when geostatisticians got together to praise David’s 1977 Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation. He was praised at a celebration called Geostatistics for the Next Century at Montreal on June 3-5, 1993. My take on The Properties of Variances clashed with the celebrations at McGill University. What applied statistics did do is prove that the intrinsic variability of Bre-X’s gold was statistically identical to zero. How about that? The geostatocracy is still poised in 2012 to assume, krige, smooth, and rig the rules of applied statistics with impunity.

David’s 1977 textbook displayed his tenuous grasp of applied statistics. The author points on page 33 of Chapter 2 to what he calls “the famous central limit theorem”. On page 286 in Figure 203 he shows how to derive a set of sixteen (16) “famous central limit theorems” from the same set of nine (9) holes. Next, he points out on this page, “Writing all the necessary covariances for that system of equations is a good test to find out whether one really understands geostatistics”. Counting degrees of freedom would have  shown that the author of the first textbook on geostatistics did grasp applied statistics.

It is simple to verify spatial dependence between measured values in an ordered set by applying Fisher’s F-test to the variance of the set and the first variance term of the ordered set. The F-test requires that degrees of freedom be counted. Stanford’s Journel claims that spatial dependence between measured values may be assumed. For crying out loud! He did so in his letter to JMG’s Editor. Now how’s that for a nouveau science! Surely, spatial dependence in sample spaces should be proved beyond reasonable doubt. It took but two steps to go from goofy geostatistics to a genuine fraud. The first step was to strip the variance off the distance-weighted average. The second step was to call a kriged estimate what had once been a distance-weighted average with a variance. Now that’s simple comme bonjour, n’est ce pas? Kriging is a stacked game of chance. Thou shall not krige when scientific integrity matters!

 Mineral Inventory Studies of Precious Metal Deposits in British Columbia is one work of geostatistical fiction that I have kept on file. The study that peeked my interest most of all was Ordinary Block Kriging with Geological Control, A Practical Approach to Estimating Mineral Inventory, Nickel Plate Mine, Hedley, British Columbia. I did so simply because primary data are given. The authors of this study were A J Sinclair et al. It hit the spotlight on June 3-5, 1993 when “Geostatistics for the Next Century” was hailed for no reason whatsoever!

Dr A J Sinclair, Professor Emeritus (Geological Engineering), was 2000-2001 recipient of a distinguished lecturer award. Sinclair talked about “Geology and data analysis: essential components of high quality resource/reserve estimation”.  He talked across the country in both official languages. His paper on Ordinary Block Kriging with Geological Control, A Practical Approach to Estimating Mineral Inventory, Nickel Plate Mine, Hedley, BC was presented when David was praised at McGill in June 1993. I applied Fisher F-test to test for spatial dependence.

Fisher’s F-test for spatial dependence

The set of production data didn’t display a significant degree of spatial dependence. Neither did the set of ordinary block kriging data. Bartlett’s chi-squared test would have shown significant discrepancies not only between variances of sets but also between first variance terms of ordered sets.

Confidence limits for arithmetic means

 The central values in this table are arithmetic means. Confidence intervals and ranges are derived in Excel spreadsheet files. Shortly, a link to statistics will be be posted.

 The Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration published in Volume 308 Transactions 2000 a reviewed paper entitled Borehole statistics with spreadsheet software. The paper shows how to fingerprint boreholes. Its reviewer expected it would “stir up a hornets’ nest” but it never did! This paper underpins a report in which confidence limits for a large gold reserve had been derived. It was submitted to Barrick Gold early in 1998.


The worst kept secret in capital equipment sales and marketing

There are two basic ways to increase your chance to sell capital equipment. One is called interruption marketing and the other one creating value marketing. Guess which one is the most used and which one is the most successful? The worst kept secret is that it is value creating based sales/ marketing.

Interruption marketing literally interrupts – YOU. Messages pop up on your screen when you do not even expect it. Spam mails clutter your in-box. Clicking on web links first show some sort of commercial. There are many more examples. They make you mad and are extremely frustrating.

One particular pesky one may be found in blog and forum responses when well-meaning sales folks try sneaking in their company and personal contact information into comment and response sections. “We do this, that and the other thing, we are great, just give us a call and just start buying from us”. Do they really think anyone will seriously pay attention anymore to this scatter gun approach to sales?

Attention is such a scarce thing in our noisy social media world that interrupting the customer’s work achieves exactly the opposite: It turns the attention away and it lands the marketer into the junk folder. It is nothing but a dead end proposition.

Creating value is best delivered in genuine and free advice. Free? Yes, at least the overall assessment of a customer’s situation and pointing out the root cause of his issues goes a long way. Only when you have built up enough subject matter expertise can you be of help to anyone and you can deliver this advice. Once you do that built a web presence, help out in special interest group forums, start a blog, and hold presentations.

Do not get me wrong here, this is not the same as unpaid consulting. There is no need to be afraid that you will lose out on revenue. Just look at any forum and you will see that the top number one issue is that folks have a rather complex and broad challenge to figure out. Key problem is that they typically have issues where to even start isolating what their real problem is to begin with. That is where you can help.

Get them rolling with the basics and the 80/20 rule is that 80% of issue will not go anywhere anyway. Some customers never follow up, or they finally do have a solution, but they will never implement anything because they will never get the money to fix their issue. The 20% of cases may just turn into 80% of your future revenue. Neat, huh?

People will rely on you for honest and trustworthy advice. All you need to do is delivering some solid value that makes the customer better off. Most likely he will come back to you for more advice when he has another issue to solve. One simple shot gun spatter of your advertisements will not get you anywhere soon. People will only tune you out.

Work on increasing your skill sets and experience. Build and provide solutions. Build up your audience. Become a subject matter specialist. Seek outlets for your stuff and give it away. When customers do start buying from you (trust me, they will) steadily under promise and over deliver.

Does this take a little more time upfront to build your customer and sales base? Absolutely. Will this be much more sustainable? Most certainly. Just wait until the first word-of-mouth referrals hit your in-box.


P.S.: Use the comment box of this post for your cheap sales pitch and you and your mail will land in the “block sender” file folder. Interruption marketing does not work!

Metrology in Mining and Metallurgy

Trans Tech Publications printed Volume 4 in its series on Bulk Materials Handling in 1985. It was called Sampling and Weighing of Bulk Solids. An unauthorized translation into Mandarin surfaced in November 1989. We do have a Canadian copyright on Metrology in Mining and Metallurgy. This text will also deal in detail with mineral exploration. It will do so because the Bre-X fraud was by far the worst salting scam I have ever unscrambled. I did it for Barrick Gold Corporation several months before Bre-X’s boss salter wound up in the Kalimantan jungle. That’s but one reason why I have registered the Canadian copyright for Metrology in Mining and Metallurgy.
What has put my work on the map was the interleaved sampling protocol for mineral concentrates. The same protocol underpins the design of a mechanical sampling system to determine trace elements in cathode copper. I know how to derive 95% confidence limits for metal grades and contents of reserves and of proven parts of resources. Page 120 of my textbook in Section 4.5 Propagation of Variances gives the variance of a general function as defined in probability theory. One would expect a scholar with a PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics to be familiar with the properties of variances and the concept of degrees of freedom. I had given a pair of copies of Sampling and Weighing of Bulk Solids to Dr Martha Piper and she gave both to Professor Dr Alastair J Sinclair, PEng, PGeo. Dr Piper could have but did not give a copy to Dr M Klawe, her Dean of Science in those days. UBC’s library in 2011 finally put a copy of my book on one of its shelves. Why it took much too long would make a story in itself at this stage.
UBC’s Department of Geological Sciences took a liking to Matheron’s new science of geostatistics. It came about when Professor Dr Alastair J Sinclair, PEng, PGeo thought that his students stood to benefit more from Matheronian geostatistics than from applied statistics. Dr Piper might have been aware that one-to-one correspondence between functions and variances is sine qua non in applied statistics. All it would have taken in those days was a brief call to Professor Dr Nathan Divinsky.
A peculiar event took place at the Department of Geological Sciences on November 22, 1989. That’s when Dr A J Sinclair greeted those who took my short course on Sampling Precious Metal Deposits, Metrology – A New Look.  CIM Bulletin had earlier entrusted Sinclair with the review of Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves. He had initialed his review with AJS:131 on November 15, 1989. What may have troubled Professor Dr Alastair J Sinclair, PEng, PGeo was that Matheron’s hot science of geostatistics had left us cold. It may explain why he hopped in and out of Room 330A like a jack-in-the-box. But he could have asked the odd question during my talk. For Sir R A Fisher’s sake!
One-to-one correspondence between functions and variances was as far beyond the grasps of David and of Sinclair in 1989 as it was beyond Matheron’s grasp in 1952. The question is why variances of distance-weighted averages are still missing in 2012. It is true that the distance-weighted average itself was never lost but had merely morphed into a kriged estimate. But its variance had vanished when Matheron and his disciples had cooked up geostatistics.
The attachment to my letter of November 30, 1994 to Mr John Drury, CIM Ad Hoc Reserve Definitions Committee, shows how to derive the variance of a mass of metal contained in crushed ore and insitu ore.
ISO/DIS 13543-Determination of Mass of Contained Metal in the Lot

Borehole statistics with spreadsheet software
SME Volume 308, Transactions 2000

Why does my corporation not give me the funds to improve my plant? Kick your budget requests up a notch

Fishing for capital equipment money every year and going home empty handed is the typical thing happening to maintenance and operation managers every year. Even the support of the plant manager will often not help getting anywhere with your requisition request. Plenty of money will be saved in the long run. Lower energy bills and a much lesser maintenance budget should surely look good to the financial folks.  Well, you are so wrong (usually).

Problem is that in the big scheme of things top level managers and chief financial officers will not give you a Cent because operations are not affected enough and there is not a super short return on investment to entice them giving you the money. Often enough it is actually your ROI (Return on investment) logic and how you structured and formatted it that will make sure that your request will gather dust at HQ (Headquarters).  Then again it can also be the information you did not include. How about the info you included, but jut not in a format top level manager would appreciate?

The list below is just a few ideas how to turn a typical capital investment request into a rocking one with a kick-behind ROI.

  • Let the manufacturer of the equipment help you put an ROI together.  Do not forget speaking with the one whose equipment you want to replace involved too.  For one you never know if they have something better themselves, and on the other hand, they will also be the ones who should give you the latest overhaul and repair prices.
  • Make sure you have you repair and maintenance records straight.  Do you have all the numbers for how much maintenance and operations (lubricant cost, cooling water, and yes, also energy consumption) have cost you?  Do you know what your going energy cost (demand and $/KWh) is?
  • Do you intend to replace heavy oil leaking equipment?  Did you capture how much kitty litter or oil dry you are using now?  How many times does a crew need to walk by the machines checking and topping oil off?
  • How many air filter changes and how much do the filters cost?
  • How much cooling water is needed and how much does it save you getting rid of your old equipment?
  • Can you put an energy audit together?  Get all your own and vendor resources organized collecting data about your air, water, lubricant usages and the required man power that it takes to do all of the above.

Now that you have the basic information gathered you can focus on getting your budget calculated.  The rest is up to the process you use getting your money approved.  The bullet list above deals with the mere mechanics of getting to a basic ROI.  Below is how you can kick your project up a notch and thus you increase your chances to getting financial approval.

  • Replacing a piece of equipment is not a simple tear the old out and put the new in scenario.  Do you have the cost for removal and new installation gathered?  Great.  How about the system integration cost from a controls point?  Did your controls group contribute to your ROI?  Same with operations.  How will operations be affected during the change out?  How easy or tough is will this be to install and start the new equipment?  Hopefully this cost will be low, but did you consider putting this into your ROI?
  • Will the old stuff represent a health or environmental hazard?  How much scrap value is there?  Would sister companies or others want to have this equipment and how much value would this represent?
  • Do not laugh about this one:  How many new or refurbished pieces of equipment do you still have in your company (your own plant and system wide)?  Chances are if you have any left, you will not stand a chance replacing it and the system it is installed in.  It represents a clap trap:  If you do not have any and your production is down it may cost you dearly replacing it in a hurry and the manufacturer of the new stuff may not be able to get you a one to two week delivery.  Planning and risk management is everything with this one.  Look forward too.  Is the current machine still in production?  Does the manufacturer intend to make it obsolete soon?  What have you heard about this from your industry specialists?
  • How much money can be saved with this new piece of equipment if it uses lubricants that you already have in the plant?  Does the new one eliminate routine tasks or stretch out the schedule?
  • Does your equipment run 24/7 or at least 2500 hours per year?  If so, are you using premium efficient motors?  You should!  Calculate the savings with this helpful program called Motor Master.  Note:  Make sure that you have included money for the new motor starter or heaters as the premium efficient motor will have a greater inrush current.
  • Can your new piece of equipment eliminate power demand spikes during starts?  Do they have unloading devices (here is one for blowers)?  Demand charges
    is something few people know about.  Your power bill always has a demand charge and the money per KWh charge.  Did you know that sometimes your demand charge is higher than the other?  Demand comprises the total KW’s (or better the resulting amperage load) that the power company needs to have available for your system not to overload and go off line.  This means that all motors could come on line at the same time.  This means that your charges are based on a much higher demand than what your normal operation load is.  Problem here are the significant spikes at time of equipment start up that are particular bad when you cannot start your motor under no load.  Something to consider and explore with your financial people.
  • Compressed air systems are THE power hog of most plants.  Here is a helpful tool (Air master) in studying your energy consumption and different technologies and manufacturers.  Perhaps why you did not get money in recent requisitions is because you did not fix the more basic problem:  Air leaks.  Do the basics first and then ask for more money for capital improvements.
  • Does the manufacturer offer a remote monitoring system that helps you get off a time based maintenance schedule and instead provides an “as needed” maintenance schedule?  Here is an example for one that alerts you when the machine is in need of attention soon:  Remote.  Experts fix what needs fixing.  Here the machine literally tells you when it needs attention all the way to including vibration and oil level with web based and smart phone accessibility.  It can save you thousands of Dollars annually as such a maintenance system is based on the expert – manufacturer – point of view.
  • The political part is often the trickiest and the most overlooked part of equipment requisitions and ROIs.  Gathering and getting support from your key stake holders is immensely important or you will never get your money into the budget.  That you need to have a solid case made in your ROI goes without saying.  Did you get you plant manager’s support though?  How about your electrical, maintenance, shift, operations, union managers and spokes persons?  How good is your relationship with HQ?  You do not have one?  Well, get to it and get yourself known there for solid work and build your reputation as a cost saver and sustainability improver.

Surely you have realized that this never easy, nor quick to getting your improvements documented and approved.  Some aspects are cut and dry.  The pure mechanics of it all is often what occupies your mind most and yet, the process of getting the stake holder’s support and illuminating the whole system around the piece of equipment is actually almost more important.  Good luck with your journey and make sure to use all the resources that exist around and within you.  Otherwise you will still only be like a lonely angler putting out the line into the big pond of budgets and come home with nothing on your hook.

Ralf Weiser


From human error to scientific fraud

Such reads the caption that these days graces my website. A few changes have been made since it was posted in 2003. What pleased me most was that loads of facsimiles and scores of snail mails could be whittled down to links. It didn’t take Merks and Merks long to figure out why geostatistics is an invalid variant of applied statistics. All it took was a close look at geostatistics when CIM Bulletin did reject Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves. We did so since it was praised by and published in Erzmetall 44 (1991) Nr 10. It was easy  to find out what was wrong with geostatistics. It matters not at all that the distance-weighted average is called a kriged estimate. What does matter is that it did somehow shed its variance.  Geostatistocrats have not yet put into plain words why each and every kriged estimate has lost its variance.

Matheron’s new science of geostatistics has made landfall on this continent in 1970. A geostatistics colloquium in North America took place on campus at The University of Kansas, Lawrence on 7-9 June 1970. Its proceedings were recorded by Daniel F Merriam and published by Plenum Press, New York-London, 1970. A Maréchal and J Serra had graduated at the Centre de Morphologie Mathématique at Fontainebleau, France. They had come to shed light on Random Kriging. The authors point to Punctual Kriging in Figure 10. It shows how to derive a set of sixteen (16) grades from a set of nine (9) grades. It looked a bit of a slight of hand but it seemed to make sense to Professor Dr Michel David. So he took  Maréchal and Serra’s Figure 10 to page 286 in Chapter 10 The Practice of Kriging of his 1977 textbook.


Figure 10 – Grades of n samples belonging to
nine rectangles P of pattern surrounding x
Figure 203 – Pattern showing all points within B,
which are estimated from the same nine holes

Geostatistics is but a bogus variant of applied statistics which is simple comme bonjour! Functions do have variances. No ifs or buts! That’s why one-to-one correspondence between functions and variances is sine qua non in applied statistics. Degrees of freedom are positive integers when all measured values in the set have the same weight. Degrees of freedom are positive irrationals when all measured values in the set have variable weights.

The power of applied statistics has served me well throughout my career. It did because so much of applied statistics is intuitive. For example, any set of measured values has a central value, a variance, a standard deviation and a coefficient of variation. The central value is either its arithmetic mean or some weighted average. Numbers of measured values in sets define confidence limits for central values. Testing for spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets shows where orderliness in sample spaces or sampling units dissipates into randomness. Never did it make any sense in my work to assume spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets.  What does make sense is testing for spatial dependence, skewness and kurtosis.

The central limit theorem defines the relationship between a set of measured values and its central value. Even David did refer to “the famous central limit theorem”. Yet, he didn’t deem it famous enough to list it in his Index. Testing for spatial dependence between measured values in sample spaces and sampling units plays a key role in scores of applications in a wide range of disciplines. Participation in several standard committees served to make applied statistics indispensable in so many ways. I do have but a few simple questions at this stage. Why did Professor Dr Georges Matheron (1930-2000) cook up such a silly variant of applied statistics? Why was Matheron’s work deemed beyond peer review! Why didn’t anybody point out to him that all functions do have variances? Why doesn’t the mining industry care about unbiased confidence limits for metal contents and grades of reserves and resources as much as I do?

Today I woke up as a certified octogenarian. I took a ride on my stationary bike and got nowhere. But I felt good. Yet I am sick and tired of those who play games with other people’s money.  All I want to do at this stage of my life is show how to work with sound statistics and how to get rid of bogus science.

I have an issue with a materials handling system and now where do I go with it?

I have an issue with a materials handling system and now where do I go with it?

This experience and question is being considered all the time as any given materials handling plant is going through this frequently. It can be so painful because the plant management wants it fixed quickly and with as little as possible economic impact.  You and / or your internal resources are completely overwhelmed with the task of diagnosing the problem by yourself and you know that you need help.  You suspect that the original equipment manufacturer maybe offering the most expensive fix with the longest time frame attached to it.  Now what do you do?

At the root of the problem is surprisingly one key item:  You.  What I mean by that is that you let the situation get to you.  This is meant in terms of economic and time frame pressure exerted on you by either management and or the urgency of the project.  Now you make less strategic decisions due to not taking your time thinking through the problem at hand.  What happens is that you attempt fixing the issue yourself even though you do not know what you do not know.  In the end the problem can be made worse and now this can come back and reflect badly on your career.

Planning is everything here.  You do not plan, you plan to fail.  The following is a cheat sheet summary of what you can do to plan through your issue:

  1. Define the problem.  Seems a banality, but this is the top number one reason why no one will be ever be able to help you effectively.  What I mean is for you to define a problem statement and then what you believe the root cause is.
    1. The root cause emerges when you ask yourself and the plant personnel involved in the challenge fives times “why”.  For instance: Why do we experience a low conveying flow rate?  By the fifth why you will have really narrowed it down to the root cause.
    2. Develop a problem narrative in writing and sketch it out.  Sketches preferably should be to scale.  Photos do wonders!
    3. Stay to describing what the equipment status and condition is, rather than what should have been (some folks are afraid to admit that there are issues in the plant, this is no time to be timid!).
  2. This may surprise you, but I would speak with the original manufacturer first about your issue.  This may render totally positive responses and the fastest results to dealing with your issues.  At least you get to know the way how professionals would solve the issue and how.  You can still resort to the other methods of self-help, if the manufacturer blows you off or otherwise does not treat you like he should.
  3. Look at online resources like the Bulk Forum for help.  Here it will be helpful categorizing your issue correctly and with the detail knowledge from point 1 inserted in your request for help.
  4. Look around and ask friends and your connections in the industry.  If you are not connected, now would be a good time to get connected.  One excellent resource is LinkedIn.  It has excellent focus groups that deal with so many situations and if there is not one, start one.
  5. Finally, you can give the good old college try a chance.  Doing this yourself can be as scary as it can be rewarding when you solve the issue.  Point 1 really will come to your rescue as it helps eliminate as many as possible variables.  Make sure to not making changes too quickly and too many at a time such that you can study cause and effect of what you are doing.

Now that you have a pre-flight check list I will leave you to making a few important choices.  The first one is for you to choose actively whether or not you want to make a change.  Scan for the support of your management and their back up as well as their financial commitment.  Nothing is worse than having developed a detailed plan just to be told that neither money nor time will be made available to you.  Then choose to plan your remedy and the resources to do this with.  What problems will you start doing differently from now one?  Choose wisely.

Ralf Weiser


UBC still stuck with geostatistics

Professor Dr Alastair J Sinclair has been teaching earth sciences at the University of British Columbia since 1964. It was but a dozen years after Matheron tried his hand at applied statistics. Young Georges Matheron in 1952 was an up-and-coming geologist in Algiers. He had a penchant for applied statistics in those early days. For example, he knew how to test for associative dependence between lead and silver grades in core samples of variable lengths. What he did not know was how to derive variances of length-weighted average lead and silver grades. Perhaps ironically, young Matheron in those days thought he was working with applied statistics. Yet he didn’t know how to test for spatial dependence in sample spaces or sampling units by applying Fisher’s F-test to the variance of a set and the first variance term of the ordered set.  He didn’t derive length-weighted average lead and silver grades for his data set. Young Matheron was not into reporting sets of primary data. Neither was Professor Dr Georges Matheron when he brought his creation to North America in June 1970!

Professor Dr Georges Matheron
Abuser of applied statistics
Creator of geostatistics
Founder of spatial statistics
Professor Dr Georges Matheron was not at all into sharing primary data with his students. Even for his PhD Thesis he saw fit to cook up a funny pair of primary data sets. So I decided to show how to test for spatial dependence between Matheron’s make-believe primary data sets in his 1965 PhD Thesis. What follows is Matheron’s minuscule data set for his thesis.

Test for spatial dependence have been applied to the variance of the set and the first variance term of the ordered sets. Fisher’s F-test shows that both data sets display a significant degree of spatial dependence. Matheron’s PhD thesis does not show how to test for spatial dependence between ordered data in either sample space. Yet Matheron has been called the Founder of Spatial Statistics.
Matheron’s 1965 PhD Thesis

Matheron’s magnum opus is posted on a massive website. Its webmaster has made a few minor changes to suggest that Matheron had applied geostatistics somewhat sooner than he had done in real time.

It is ironic to the extreme that geostatistics was hailed as a new science when Matheron and his disciples brought it to campus at the University of Kansas in June 1974. Matheron’s own tour de force at this colloquium was to invoke Brownian motion along a straight line. He did it to infer that his random functions are continuous between measured values. The study on Random kriging by A Marechal and J Serra at the Centre de Morphology Mathematique was successful under Matheron’s supervision. Figure 10 in this 1974 study metamorphosed in Figure 203 on page 286 in Chapter 10 The Practice of Kriging in Professor Dr Michel David’s 1977 Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation.

David’s 1977 textbook and Gy’s 1979 Sampling of Particulate Materials, Theory and Practice, stand side-by-side on a shelf in my office. One time soon I’ll use them to prove how the French sampling school has messed up statistical thinking. And all it really took was to ignore one-to-one correspondence between functions and variances, to assume spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets, and to pay no attention to counting degrees of freedom.

Dr Alastair J Sinclair, PEng, PGeo
UBC Emeritus Professor

Professor Dr Alastair J Sinclair described in Applied Mineral Inventory Estimation how his “exciting and invigorating career” took off when he was exposed to Matheron’s ideas, and how he had “the good fortune to work with Journel, Huijbregts and Deraisme”. Good grief! Those were Matheron’s earliest students who took his musings for dogma, and who didn’t have a clue that the variance of the distance-weighted average cum kriged estimate had vanished into thin air on Matheron’s watch. Sinclair’s list of those who he was “fortunate to have worked with at various times” reads like a Who’s who in the world’s  geostatistical fraternity. Sinclair credits all of them to have contributed to his education. For once I do agree! I’m all in favor of giving credit where credit is due. But to give credit to everybody who has taught Professor Dr Alastair J Sinclair, PEng, PGeo how to apply a flawed variant of applied statistics is a bit over the top. Some geostatistocrats on Sinclair’s list know that each and every distance-weighted average cum kriged estimate does have its own variance. No ifs or buts! And whether Al likes it or not!

I wrote one more letter to Dr Martha C Piper, President, The University of British Columbia. I pointed out that H G Wells (1866-1946) had predicted, “Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write”. I mentioned that statistical thinking served me well indeed as a consultant, a lecturer, an author and a publisher, and as a global citizen of sorts on IMO and ISO Technical Committees such as TC69-The application of statistical methods.

Professor Dr Nathan Divinsky was charged in 1949 with the teaching of mathematics to UBC students. He retired as a professor in the mathematics department in 1991. I met a few of his former students who enjoyed his teaching and appreciated the power of applied statistics. Once upon a time I called him to ask whether statistical inferences are possible without degrees of freedom. I’ll always remember what he said! Professor Dr Nathan Divinsky pointed out, “But without degrees of freedom statistical inferences are impossible”. Dr Nathan Divinsky passed away at 86. He was married for eleven years to former Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Who would dare doubt such a short, crisp and to the point response by a Professor of Mathematics? May he rest in peace!

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