Writings

2004
What to do When Your Hessian is Not Invertible: Alternatives to Model Respecification in Nonlinear Estimation
Jeff Gill and Gary King. 2004. “What to do When Your Hessian is Not Invertible: Alternatives to Model Respecification in Nonlinear Estimation.” Sociological Methods and Research, 32, Pp. 54-87.Abstract
What should a researcher do when statistical analysis software terminates before completion with a message that the Hessian is not invertable? The standard textbook advice is to respecify the model, but this is another way of saying that the researcher should change the question being asked. Obviously, however, computer programs should not be in the business of deciding what questions are worthy of study. Although noninvertable Hessians are sometimes signals of poorly posed questions, nonsensical models, or inappropriate estimators, they also frequently occur when information about the quantities of interest exists in the data, through the likelihood function. We explain the problem in some detail and lay out two preliminary proposals for ways of dealing with noninvertable Hessians without changing the question asked.
Article
YourCast
Frederico Girosi and Gary King. 2004. “YourCast”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
YourCast is (open source and free) software that makes forecasts by running sets of linear regressions together in a variety of sophisticated ways. YourCast avoids the bias that results when stacking datasets from separate cross-sections and assuming constant parameters, and the inefficiency that results from running independent regressions in each cross-section.
2003
Gary King. 2003. “10 Million International Dyadic Events”. Publisher's Version
Christopher Adolph and Gary King. 2003. “Analyzing Second Stage Ecological Regressions.” Political Analysis, 11, Pp. 65-76. Article
An Automated Information Extraction Tool For International Conflict Data with Performance as Good as Human Coders: A Rare Events Evaluation Design
Gary King and Will Lowe. 2003. “An Automated Information Extraction Tool For International Conflict Data with Performance as Good as Human Coders: A Rare Events Evaluation Design.” International Organization, 57, Pp. 617-642.Abstract
Despite widespread recognition that aggregated summary statistics on international conflict and cooperation miss most of the complex interactions among nations, the vast majority of scholars continue to employ annual, quarterly, or occasionally monthly observations. Daily events data, coded from some of the huge volume of news stories produced by journalists, have not been used much for the last two decades. We offer some reason to change this practice, which we feel should lead to considerably increased use of these data. We address advances in event categorization schemes and software programs that automatically produce data by "reading" news stories without human coders. We design a method that makes it feasible for the first time to evaluate these programs when they are applied in areas with the particular characteristics of international conflict and cooperation data, namely event categories with highly unequal prevalences, and where rare events (such as highly conflictual actions) are of special interest. We use this rare events design to evaluate one existing program, and find it to be as good as trained human coders, but obviously far less expensive to use. For large scale data collections, the program dominates human coding. Our new evaluative method should be of use in international relations, as well as more generally in the field of computational linguistics, for evaluating other automated information extraction tools. We believe that the data created by programs similar to the one we evaluated should see dramatically increased use in international relations research. To facilitate this process, we are releasing with this article data on 4.3 million international events, covering the entire world for the last decade.
Article
Building An Infrastructure for Empirical Research in the Law
Lee Epstein and Gary King. 2003. “Building An Infrastructure for Empirical Research in the Law.” Journal of Legal Education, 53, Pp. 311–320.Abstract
In every discipline in which "empirical research" has become commonplace, scholars have formed a subfield devoted to solving the methodological problems unique to that discipline’s data and theoretical questions. Although students of economics, political science, psychology, sociology, business, education, medicine, public health, and so on primarily focus on specific substantive questions, they cannot wait for those in other fields to solve their methoodological problems or to teach them "new" methods, wherever they were initially developed. In "The Rules of Inference," we argued for the creation of an analogous methodological subfield devoted to legal scholarship. We also had two other objectives: (1) to adapt the rules of inference used in the natural and social sciences, which apply equally to quantitative and qualitative research, to the special needs, theories, and data in legal scholarship, and (2) to offer recommendations on how the infrastructure of teaching and research at law schools might be reorganized so that it could better support the creation of first-rate quantitative and qualitative empirical research without compromising other important objectives. Published commentaries on our paper, along with citations to it, have focused largely on the first-our application of the rules of inference to legal scholarship. Until now, discussions of our second goal-suggestions for the improvement of legal scholarship, as well as our argument for the creation of a group that would focus on methodological problems unique to law-have been relegated to less public forums, even though, judging from the volume of correspondence we have received, they seem to be no less extensive.
Article
Michael Tomz, Jason Wittenberg, and Gary King. 2003. “CLARIFY: Software for Interpreting and Presenting Statistical Results.” Journal of Statistical Software.Abstract
This is a set of easy-to-use Stata macros that implement the techniques described in Gary King, Michael Tomz, and Jason Wittenberg's "Making the Most of Statistical Analyses: Improving Interpretation and Presentation". To install Clarify, type "net from http://gking.harvard.edu/clarify" at the Stata command line. The documentation [ HTML | PDF ] explains how to do this. We also provide a zip archive for users who want to install Clarify on a computer that is not connected to the internet. Winner of the Okidata Best Research Software Award. Also try -ssc install qsim- to install a wrapper, donated by Fred Wolfe, to automate Clarify's simulation of dummy variables.
Christopher Adolph, Gary King, Kenneth W Shotts, and Michael C Herron. 2003. “A Consensus on Second Stage Analyses in Ecological Inference Models.” Political Analysis, 11, Pp. 86–94.Abstract
Since Herron and Shotts (2003a and hereinafter HS), Adolph and King (2003 andhereinafter AK), and Herron and Shotts (2003b and hereinafter HS2), the four of us have iterated many more times, learned a great deal, and arrived at a consensus on this issue. This paper describes our joint recommendations for how to run second-stage ecological regressions, and provides detailed analyses to back up our claims.
Article
Emmanuela Gakidou and Gary King. 2003. “Determinants of Inequality in Child Survival: Results from 39 Countries.” In Health Systems Performance Assessment: Debates, Methods and Empiricism, edited by Chrisopher Murray and David B Evans, Pp. 497-502. Geneva: World Health Organization.
EI: A Program for Ecological Inference
Gary King. 2003. “EI: A Program for Ecological Inference”. Publisher's Version
Gary King and Kenneth Benoit. 2003. “EzI: A(n Easy) Program for Ecological Inference”. Publisher's Version
Gary King. 2003. “The Future of Replication.” International Studies Perspectives, 4, Pp. 443–499.Abstract

Since the replication standard was proposed for political science research, more journals have required or encouraged authors to make data available, and more authors have shared their data. The calls for continuing this trend are more persistent than ever, and the agreement among journal editors in this Symposium continues this trend. In this article, I offer a vision of a possible future of the replication movement. The plan is to implement this vision via the Virtual Data Center project, which – by automating the process of finding, sharing, archiving, subsetting, converting, analyzing, and distributing data – may greatly facilitate adherence to the replication standard.

Article
Numerical Issues Involved in Inverting Hessian Matrices
Jeff Gill and Gary King. 2003. “Numerical Issues Involved in Inverting Hessian Matrices.” In Numerical Issues in Statistical Computing for the Social Scientist, edited by Micah Altman and Michael P. McDonald, Pp. 143-176. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Chapter PDF
Michael Tomz, Gary King, and Langche Zeng. 2003. “ReLogit: Rare Events Logistic Regression.” Journal of Statistical Software, 8. Publisher's Version
ReLogit: Rare Events Logistic Regression
Gary King, Michael Tomz, and Langche Zeng. 2003. “ReLogit: Rare Events Logistic Regression”. Publisher's Version
Some Statistical Methods for Evaluating Information Extraction Systems
Will Lowe and Gary King. 2003. “Some Statistical Methods for Evaluating Information Extraction Systems.” Proceedings of the 10th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Pp. 19-26.Abstract

We present new statistical methods for evaluating information extraction systems. The methods were developed to evaluate a system used by political scientists to extract event information from news leads about international politics. The nature of this data presents two problems for evaluators: 1) the frequency distribution of event types in international event data is strongly skewed, so a random sample of newsleads will typically fail to contain any low frequency events. 2) Manual information extraction necessary to create evaluation sets is costly, and most effort is wasted coding high frequency categories . We present an evaluation scheme that overcomes these problems with considerably less manual effort than traditional methods, and also allows us to interpret an information extraction system as an estimator (in the statistical sense) and to estimate its bias.

Article
2002
Armed Conflict as a Public Health Problem
Christopher JL Murray, Gary King, Alan D Lopez, Niels Tomijima, and Etienne Krug. 2002. “Armed Conflict as a Public Health Problem.” BMJ (British Medical Journal), 324, Pp. 346–349.Abstract
Armed conflict is a major cause of injury and death worldwide, but we need much better methods of quantification before we can accurately assess its effect. Armed conflict between warring states and groups within states have been major causes of ill health and mortality for most of human history. Conflict obviously causes deaths and injuries on the battlefield, but also health consequences from the displacement of populations, the breakdown of health and social services, and the heightened risk of disease transmission. Despite the size of the health consequences, military conflict has not received the same attention from public health research and policy as many other causes of illness and death. In contrast, political scientists have long studied the causes of war but have primarily been interested in the decision of elite groups to go to war, not in human death and misery. We review the limited knowledge on the health consequences of conflict, suggest ways to improve measurement, and discuss the potential for risk assessment and for preventing and ameliorating the consequences of conflict.
Article
Gary King. 2002. “COUNT: A Program for Estimating Event Count and Duration Regressions”.Abstract
A stand-alone, easy-to-use program for running event count and duration regression models, developed by and/or discussed in a series of journal articles by me. (Event count models have a dependent variable measured as the number of times something happens, such as the number of uncontested seats per state or the number of wars per year. Duration models explain dependent variables measured as the time until some event, such as the number of months a parliamentary cabinet endures.) Winner of the APSA Research Software Award.
Empirical Research and The Goals of Legal Scholarship: A Response
Lee Epstein and Gary King. 2002. “Empirical Research and The Goals of Legal Scholarship: A Response.” University of Chicago Law Review, 69, Pp. 1–209.Abstract
Although the term "empirical research" has become commonplace in legal scholarship over the past two decades, law professors have, in fact, been conducting research that is empirical – that is, learning about the world using quantitative data or qualitative information – for almost as long as they have been conducting research. For just as long, however, they have been proceeding with little awareness of, much less compliance with, the rules of inference, and without paying heed to the key lessons of the revolution in empirical analysis that has been taking place over the last century in other disciplines. The tradition of including some articles devoted to exclusively to the methododology of empirical analysis – so well represented in journals in traditional academic fields – is virtually nonexistent in the nation’s law reviews. As a result, readers learn considerably less accurate information about the empirical world than the studies’ stridently stated, but overconfident, conclusions suggest. To remedy this situation both for the producers and consumers of empirical work, this Article adapts the rules of inference used in the natural and social sciences to the special needs, theories, and data in legal scholarship, and explicate them with extensive illustrations from existing research. The Article also offers suggestions for how the infrastructure of teaching and research at law schools might be reorganized so that it can better support the creation of first-rate empirical research without compromising other important objectives.
Article
Estimating Risk and Rate Levels, Ratios, and Differences in Case-Control Studies
Gary King and Langche Zeng. 2002. “Estimating Risk and Rate Levels, Ratios, and Differences in Case-Control Studies.” Statistics in Medicine, 21, Pp. 1409–1427.Abstract
Classic (or "cumulative") case-control sampling designs do not admit inferences about quantities of interest other than risk ratios, and then only by making the rare events assumption. Probabilities, risk differences, and other quantities cannot be computed without knowledge of the population incidence fraction. Similarly, density (or "risk set") case-control sampling designs do not allow inferences about quantities other than the rate ratio. Rates, rate differences, cumulative rates, risks, and other quantities cannot be estimated unless auxiliary information about the underlying cohort such as the number of controls in each full risk set is available. Most scholars who have considered the issue recommend reporting more than just the relative risks and rates, but auxiliary population information needed to do this is not usually available. We address this problem by developing methods that allow valid inferences about all relevant quantities of interest from either type of case-control study when completely ignorant of or only partially knowledgeable about relevant auxiliary population information.
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