Katja Häusser: Psychophysical Study on the Temporal and Nasal Visual Hemifields and the Blind Spot

One of my Bachelor students (Katja Häusser) finished her thesis on parts of this study (manuscript forthcoming). This is the first piece of art I made based on a thesis. For this one, I reconstructed the main stimulus used in the psychophysics study by the complete text of the thesis.


The idea is to inspire discussion with people who do not necessarily have an academic background. The thesis might be hidden in the drawer, or is incromprehensible for people outside of science, but the poster is out there at the wall for everyone to see.
I hope to start a series, where most projects end up in an unique piece of art.

Sun Grid Engine Command-Dump

Here in the institute we have a Sun Grid Engine available. It is a tool to post computing-jobs on other workspaces (we have I think up to 60 available). There are certain commands and things that I do regularly which I tend to forget after half a year, or which might be useful for orthes.

  • Show all jobs that are running on the grid
    qstat -u \* or alternativly for a single user qstat -u behinger
  • exclude a single computer/host from running a job
    qsub -l mem=5G,h=!computername.domain
    to exclude multiple hosts: h=!h4&!h5 or h=!(h4|h5) Source
    of course mem=5G is an arbitrary other requirement.
  • Run a gridjob on a single R-File
    add #!/usr/bin/Rscript in the beginning of the file, then you can simply run qsub Rscript_name.R. I had problems using qsub Rscript -e "Rscript_name.R" due to the many quotes that would need escaping (I use to call the grid using system() command in matlab/R).

Matlab winsorized mean over all dimension

This is a function I wrote back in 2014. I think it illustrates an advanced functionality in matlab that I hadn’t found written about before.

The problem:

Calculate the winsorized mean of a multidimensional matrix over an arbitrary dimension.

Winsorized Mean

The benefits of the winsorized mean can be seen here:

We replace the top 10% and bottom 10% by the remaining most extreme value before calculating the mean (left panel). The right panel shows how the mean is influenced by a single outlier, but the winsorized mean is not (ignore the “yuen”-box”)

Current Implementation

I adapted an implementation from the LIMO toolbox based on Original Code from Prof. patrick J Bennett, McMaster University. In this code the dimension is fixed at dim = 3, the third dimension.

They solve it in three steps:

  1. sort the matrix along dimension 3
  2. [matlab] xsort=sort(x,3); [/matlab]
  3. replace the upper and lower 10% by the remaining extreme value
  4. [matlab] % number of items to winsorize and trim
    wx(:,:,1:g+1)=repmat(xsort(:,:,g+1),[1 1 g+1]);
    wx(:,:,n-g:end)=repmat(xsort(:,:,n-g),[1 1 g+1]);
  5. calculate the mean over the sorted matrix
  6. [matlab]wvarx=var(wx,0,3);[/matlab]


To generalize this to any dimension I have seen two previous solution that feels unsatisfied:
– Implement it for up to X dimension hardcoded and then use a switch-case to get the solution for the case.
– use permute to reorder the array and then go for the first dimension (which can be slow depending on the array)

Let’s solve it for X = 20 x 10 x 5 x 2 over the third dimension

function [x] = winMean(x,dim,percent)
% x = matrix of arbitrary dimension
% dim = dimension to calculate the winsorized mean over
% percent = default 20, how strong to winsorize

% How long is the matrix in our required dimension
% number of items to winsorize and trim

[/matlab] up to here it my and the original version are very similar. The hardest part is to generalize the part, where the entries are overwritten without doing it in a loop.
We are now using the subsasgn command and subsref
We need to generate a structure that mimics the syntax of
[matlab] x(:,:,1:g+1,:) = y [/matlab] for arbitrary dimensions and we need to construct y

[matlab] % Prepare Structs
Srep.type = ‘()’;
S.type = ‘()’;

% replace the left hand side
nDim = length(size(x));

beforeColons = num2cell(repmat(‘:’,dim-1,1));
afterColons = num2cell(repmat(‘:’,nDim-dim,1));
Srep.subs = {beforeColons{:} [g+1] afterColons{:}};
S.subs = {beforeColons{:} [1:g+1] afterColons{:}};
x = subsasgn(x,S,repmat(subsref(x,Srep),[ones(1,dim-1) g+1 ones(1,nDim-dim)])); % general case
[/matlab] The output of Srep is:

Srep =
type: ‘()’
subs: {‘:’ ‘:’ [2] ‘:’ }

thus subsref(x,Srep) outputs what x(:,:,2,:) would output. And then we need to repmat it, to fit the number of elements we replace by the winsorizing method.

This is put into subsasgn, where the S here is :

Srep =
type: ‘()’
subs: {‘:’ ‘:’ [1 2] ‘:’ }

Thus equivalent to x(:,:,[1 2],:).
The evaluated structure then is:
[matlab] x(:,:,[1:2]) = repmat(x[:,:,1],[1 1 2 1]) [/matlab]

The upper percentile is replaced analogous:
[matlab] % replace the right hand side
Srep.subs = {beforeColons{:} [n-g] afterColons{:}};
S.subs = {beforeColons{:} [n-g:size(x,dim)] afterColons{:}};

x = subsasgn(x,S,repmat(subsref(x,Srep),[ones(1,dim-1) g+1 ones(1,nDim-dim)])); % general case


And in the end we can take the mean, var, nanmean or whatever we need:
[matlab] x = squeeze(nanmean(x,dim));

That finishes the implementation.


But how about speed? I thus generated a random matrix of 200 x 10000 x 5 and measured the timing (n=100 runs) of the original limo implementation and mine:

algorithm timing (95% bootstraped CI of mean)
limo_winmean 185 – 188 ms
my_winmean 202 – 203ms
limo_winmean otherDimension than 3    218 – 228 ms

For the last comparison I permuted the array prior to calculating the winsorized mean, thus the overhead. In my experience, the overhead is greater the larger the arrays are (I’m talking about 5-10GB matrices here).


My generalization seems to work fine. As expected it is slower than the hardcoded version. But it is faster than permuting the whole array.

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