Monthly Archives: April 2012

Measuring Readability: Readability Indices

How readable is your writing? If it’s too complex, you risk losing your readers. For those interested in promoting their websites, that would be disastrous. Measuring a qualitative factor such as readability is no simple task — a complete method would take into account sentence structure, diction, and other factors that cannot be quantified. However, algorithms do exist to measure a small subset of these factors and while they will not guarantee the level of readability they claim your writing is, they are helpful in giving a general idea of where the actual readability stands and what improvements, if any, need to be made.

One such algorithm, the Automated Readability Index (ARI), was developed for the US Air Force in 1967. The ARI determines the readability of a piece of text using the number of characters per word and the number of words per sentence. In other words, longer words and longer sentences equate to reduced readability. The output is the estimated US grade level education needed to understand the text.

    \[ \mbox{ARI} = 4.71 \left (\frac{\mbox{characters}}{\mbox{words}} \right) + 0.5 \left (\frac{\mbox{words}}{\mbox{sentences}} \right) - 21.43 \]

Another index very similar to the ARI is the Coleman-Liau Index (CLI) which was developed in 1975 to estimate the readability of a printed work without necessitating actual character recognition. Like the ARI, it uses characters per word and words per sentence and outputs a US grade level. However, it puts greater emphasis on the number of words per sentences in determining readability.

    \[ \mbox{CLI} = 5.88 \left (\frac{\mbox{characters}}{\mbox{words}} \right) + 29.6 \left (\frac{\mbox{sentences}}{\mbox{words}} \right) - 15.8 \]

Other indices are more advanced and use not the number of characters per word, but the number of syllables per word. Examples of this include the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests consisting of two individual indices: the Flesh Reading Ease Score (FRES), a score out of 100, and the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), a US grade level. These two indices are approximately inverses of each other — a high FRES indicates simplistic language corresponding to a low FKGL.

    \[ \mbox{FRES} = 206.835 - 1.015 \left (\frac{\mbox{words}}{\mbox{sentences}} \right) - 84.6 \left (\frac{\mbox{syllables}}{\mbox{words}} \right) \]

    \[ \mbox{FKGL} = 0.39 \left (\frac{\mbox{words}}{\mbox{sentences}} \right) + 11.8 \left (\frac{\mbox{syllables}}{\mbox{words}} \right) - 15.59 \]

A similar index is the Gunning Fog Index (GFI), which, like the others, factors in the number of words per sentence. In addition, it takes into account the number of complex words — words that are not proper names or compound words and have at least 3 syllables minus any suffixes. Other words are therefore assumed to be equal in difficulty, an assumption that is generally true in the English language. Like most of the other indices, the GFI is measured in US grade level.

    \[ \mbox{GFI} = 0.4 \left( \left(\frac{\mbox{words}}{\mbox{sentence}}\right) + 100 \left(\frac{\mbox{complex words}}{\mbox{words}}\right) \right ) \]

It would be quite a pain to count up everything manually. Luckily, there are automated tools available to help. Several of these are online such as The Readability Test Tool. Other tools can be used offline such as Flesh which is free and open source. For WordPress, the Word Stats plugin calculates several readability indices while a post is being composed. This immediate feedback can help with improving the readability of a post as it is being written.

The final, yet perhaps most important issue is determining what index to aim for. As expected, this is highly dependent on your target audience. For material intended for a global audience, the grade level should be kept below 5 or 6. For academic material, the index will likely be higher but should be kept at a level at most the grade level where the material is typically covered. Research papers and legal material typically score the worst readability where accuracy and precision has top priority. This blog aims for a grade level index of less than 13 on its posts so that its content can be understood by most educated individuals.

Above all, remember that these indices are only numbers that can only hint at the level of a piece of writing. If readability is important, the writing must be proofread by an actual human to corroborate the indices. While text consisting of short sentences and short words will be deemed readable by the indices, it may still have a structure rendering it impossible to decipher, even with close scrutiny.

Personal Air Vehicles

Personal air vehicles are currently in the experimental stages, as officially stated by NASA. Currently our primary mode of transportation, as applied to the American culture, is predominantly cars and airplanes. Often times when people want to go somewhere less than 100 miles away, the solution is to drive there, which wastes fossil fuel and pollutes the air. And when people want to go somewhere from coast to coast, the main mode of transportation is often to fly on a plane. Not only is that expensive, but it is also time-consuming and fuel-consuming, thereby wasting money, time, and fossil fuels. Although efforts to remedy these issues have occurred, however, they are not enough to solve the nation’s air pollution problems.

Therefore, the experiment with the personal air vehicles can provide great relief. The personal air vehicle, when implemented, can provide great benefits to American society. The ability to operate as both a car and a plane can help save people time and protect the environment. This relieves congestion found in many airports and reduces fossil fuel consumption. Also, the ability to function as a plane means that you can go to any place you want, without the burden of plane tickets and lengthy security checks.

However, a big disadvantage of personal air vehicles is its range. It is estimated that the personal air vehicle has a 1000 mile range before the need to be refueled again so sometimes it can be a disadvantage. However, with scientists there finding new ways to improve personal air vehicles it can be very helpful rather than detrimental. Once that limitation gets resolved, people can begin to experience the joy and advantage in a personal air vehicle that can not be found in ordinary plane travel.

So the benefits of PAV far outweigh the consequences.

Evacuated Tube Transport

Evacuated tube transport involves travel in a vacuum which allows high-speed travel to various exotic places on the Earth. Right now the only way to visit places like China, Korea, and England is via plane. However, plane flights often take 10-15 hours, and sitting in the economy class is often uncomfortable. Plus, plane tickets are expensive. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can get to your destination faster?

Now, scientists are in the stages of proposing evacuated tube transport. Under this plan, future transportation would rely less on planes, thereby cutting down carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Travel is done in a vacuum rather than on ground, allowing super-high speeds to take place. So if evacuated tube transport is an option, it would allow travelers to get from the West Coast to East Coast in 45 minutes, and from US to China in 2 hours. They are proposed to run at 400 mph for domestic trips and 4000 mph for international trips.

However, there are certain factors that need to be considered. Because you are traveling in a vacuum, you won’t really be exposed to the oxygen in air as much, and you are in a cramped environment. So to ensure nothing happens, there are some oxygen masks that would be required to allow travelers to get enough oxygen, and there are simulated environments that allow people to ease their fear of cramped spaces, known as claustrophobia. In addition, the cars that go through evacuated tube transport can fit only 6 people, and there is a certain amount of luggage that can be stored on the cars. And luckily, there are first aid stations along the way during the travel so if  they can help themselves if they need to.

If approved, this is something people will look forward to.

Hypomania and OCD: Two mental disorders

Have you ever wondered what hypomania and OCD are? Well, hypomania is a disorder involving elevated states of mood and three other symptoms that arise from tension or nervousness. OCD, is, without a doubt, having obsessions that you can’t get rid of and compulsively doing things to “just get rid of the obsessions”, as one OCD patient may say. Which is true.

OCD and hypomania can affect success in life. Aside from all the weird causes of school failures and not-so-weird ones, these come into failure in life. In OCD, one will have an obsession that one admittingly will try to get rid of, but feel so difficult to get rid of. Then he will pursue compulsive behaviours that were designed, in his shoes, to get rid of the obsessions. Like, one may go, “I want to resign from ABC Institute, so I will send e-mails to Mr. XYZ and Mr. ZYX.” Obsession? Resign from ABC institute because he does not want to think about it anymore. Compulsion? Sending e-mails to Mr. XYZ, and Mr. ZYX, which may be as few as 1, or as many as 100. Who knows.

Hypomania involves elevated state of mood, with three symptoms, such as foolish investment in business enterprise, increase in psychomotor agitation, etc. Even talking to oneself constantly, abnormally, and incessantly can be a symptom of hypomania. Increased self-confidence and grandiosity is a big problem in these patients, along with easy distractibility, poor concentration skills, and short attention spans, common to both hypomania and ADHD and various learning disabilities. The symptoms can contribute to decreased success and enjoyment in life.

So now, one needs to learn that in addition to the usual solutions to school failures, such as 7 habits of highly successful people, and how to organize and manage time and things effectively along with effective study habits, one also needs to realize that some disorders, such as autistic disorders, hypomania, ADHD, OCD, and various other disorders can affect enjoyment in life, and the traits of these disorders can cause students to have ineffective time management skills, poor organisational skills, and feel overwhelmed. Before one starts fixing the problems, one needs to find the cause of the problem, and now that hypomania and OCD is included along with the various disorders and problems existent in these students, one can use this blog post to his or her advantage to solve the problem to ensure success and happiness in school and beyond and become the most successful person in the universe.

For more information, please visit Google and search these topics to learn more. For now though (for those of you reading this blog post) there are more factors that can be ruled out. But be sure to talk to your doctor or other authorized medical specialist, since this blog post is not designed as a tool for diagnosis of such disorders. Doctors and other authorized medical specialists have more experience in diagnosing such disorders than that of the blog writer.