The “world wide web” hosts millions of datasets, on nearly any topic you can think of. Google’s Dataset Search has indexed almost 25 million of these datasets, giving you a single entry point to search for datasets online. After a year of testing, Dataset Search is now officially out of beta.
After alpha testing, Dataset Search now includes filter based on the types of dataset that you want (e.g., tables, images, text), on whether the dataset is open source/access. For dataset on geographic area’s, you can see the map. The quality of dataset’s descriptions has improved greatly, and the tool now has a mobile version.
Case.law seems like a very interesting data source for a machine learning or text mining project:
The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law. Our goal is to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law Library.
Our open-source API is the best option for anybody interested in programmatically accessing our metadata, full-text search, or individual cases.
If you need a large collection of cases, you will probably be best served by our bulk data downloads. Bulk downloads for Illinois and Arkansas are available without a login, and unlimited bulk files are available to research scholars.
Case metadata, such as the case name, citation, court, date, etc., is freely and openly accessible without limitation. Full case text can be freely viewed or downloaded but you must register for an account to do so, and currently you may view or download no more than 500 cases per day. In addition, research scholars can qualify for bulk data access by agreeing to certain use and redistribution restrictions. You can request a bulk access agreement by creating an account and then visiting your account page.
Access limitations on full text and bulk data are a component of Harvard’s collaboration agreement with Ravel Law, Inc. (now part of Lexis-Nexis). These limitations will end, at the latest, in March of 2024. In addition, these limitations apply only to cases from jurisdictions that continue to publish their official case law in print form. Once a jurisdiction transitions from print-first publishing to digital-first publishing, these limitations cease. Thus far, Illinois and Arkansas have made this important and positive shift and, as a result, all historical cases from these jurisdictions are freely available to the public without restriction. We hope many other jurisdictions will follow their example soon.
A different project altogether is helping the team behind Caselaw improve its data quality:
Our data inevitably includes countless errors as part of the digitization process. The public launch of this project is only the start of discovering errors, and we hope you will help us in finding and fixing them.
Some parts of our data are higher quality than others. Case metadata, such as the party names, docket number, citation, and date, has received human review. Case text and general head matter has been generated by machine OCR and has not received human review.
You can report errors of all kinds at our Github issue tracker, where you can also see currently known issues. We particularly welcome metadata corrections, feature requests, and suggestions for large-scale algorithmic changes. We are not currently able to process individual OCR corrections, but welcome general suggestions on the OCR correction process.
Over the last months I’ve been working my way through Project Euler in my spare time. I wanted to learn Python programming, and what better way than solving mini-problems and -projects?!
Well, Project Euler got a ton of these, listed in increasing order of difficulty. It starts out simple: to solve the first problem you need to write a program to identify multiples of 3 and 5. Next, in problem two, you are asked to sum the first thousand even Fibonacci numbers. Each problem, the task at hand gets slighly more difficult…
For me, Project Euler combines math, programming, and stats in a way that really keeps me motivated to continue and learn new concepts and programming / problem-solving approaches.
However, at problem 31, I really got stuck. For several hours, I struggled to solve it in a satisfactory fashion, even though most other problems only take 5-90 minutes.
After hours of struggling, I pretty much gave up, and googled some potential solutions. Aparently, the way to solve problem 31, is to take a so-called dynamic programming approach.
Dynamic programming is both a mathematical optimization method and a computer programming method. The method was developed by Richard Bellman in the 1950s and has found applications in numerous fields, from aerospace engineering to economics. In both contexts it refers to simplifying a complicated problem by breaking it down into simpler sub-problems in a recursive manner. While some decision problems cannot be taken apart this way, decisions that span several points in time do often break apart recursively. Likewise, in computer science, if a problem can be solved optimally by breaking it into sub-problems and then recursively finding the optimal solutions to the sub-problems, then it is said to have optimal substructure.
Katie Jolly wanted to surprise a friend with a nice geeky gift: a custom-made map cutout. Using R and some visual finetuning in Inkscape, she was able to made the below.
A detailed write-up of how Katie got to this product is posted here.
Basically, the R’s tigris package included all data on roads, and the ArcGIS Open Data Hub provided the neighborhood boundaries. Fortunately, the sf package is great for transforming and manipulating geospatial data, and includes some functions to retrieve a subset of roads based on their distance to a centroid. With this subset, Katie could then build these wonderful plots in no time with ggplot2.