Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

INNOVATION: Spin designers

Via MIT News:
Computers are basically machines that process information in the form of electronic zeros and ones. But two MIT professors of materials science and engineering are trying to change that. 
Caroline Ross and Geoffrey Beach are members of the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces, and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN), a University of Minnesota-led team of 32 professors (and over 100 graduate students and postdocs) from 18 universities trying to restructure computers from the bottom up. C-SPIN researchers want to use the “spin” of electrons on nanomagnets — rather than electric charge — to encode zeros and ones. If they are successful, the computers of 2025 could be 10 times faster than today’s computers, while using only 1 percent of their energy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

INNOVATION: Doing more with less: Steering a quantum path to improved internet security

Research conducted at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, may lead to greatly improved security of information transfer over the internet. 
In a paper published in the online journal Nature Communications, physicists from Griffith's Centre for Quantum Dynamics demonstrate the potential for "quantum steering" to be used to enhance data security over long distances, discourage hackers and eavesdroppers and resolve issues of trust with communication devices. 
"Quantum physics promises the possibility of absolutely secure information transfer, where your credit card details or other personal data sent over the internet could be completely isolated from hackers," says project leader Professor Geoff Pryde.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The multifaceted identity problem

This bit from is really very, very good.
The problem with multiple identities 
Why is the issue of multiple online identities emerging as a dilemma for job seekers in this digital age? Why is it important to you? What can you do about it?The answers to those questions become clearer after you review the underlying reasons a confused online identity has consequences in the job market. Here’s a recap of those reasons, followed by examples. 
  • Job history focus is a hiring magnet. Employers try to minimize financial risk by hiring people who are doing, or who have recently done, the same job they’re filling. Employers are less interested in taking a chance on you if you lack proven qualifications for the job.
  • Relevant industry experience is highly valued. Even if you haven’t done the exact job for which you are a candidate, are you at least in the same or industry or a closely related one? Employers want to know that you’ve survived the bumps in their industry for a specified number of years — or, at least, that you understand the industry’s behavior in the marketplace.
  • A tailored resume is widely preferred. Employers like you to customize your resume to show exactly how you’re perfectly qualified for their job opening — not sort-of qualified, not maybe qualified, and certainly not flat-out unqualified. By contrast, generic resumes and social media profiles usually miss the mark of spelling out that you provide the exact “fit” for a specific job.
Examples of online multifaceted identities 
Imagine this scenario: Suppose you have a genuine work history that includes these three main occupations and industries: 
  • Retail pharmacist
  • Electronics manufacturing manager
  • Replacement-window sales manager
You need a job, and you would work again in any of these three roles. That’s why you blast three online versions of your resumes and public profiles all over the Internet.
         Catch me if you can
After awhile, you receive a call to interview for a job at a hospital pharmacy. Well, the nibble seems like good news, even though your last pharmacy gig was nine years ago, right? Not so fast. Once inside the interview room, sunny skies quickly turn cloudy. 
The interviewer kicks off the meeting by asking which of your three resumes and profiles best describe your real expertise. Is it You 1? You 2? You 3? Are you a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker? 
Taken aback, you quickly realize the interviewer must have Googled you and discovered you seem to be three different people with three very different sets of qualifications. 
Your prospects quickly go from bad to worse when the interviewer tartly says that the hospital pharmacy isn’t planning to sell replacement windows or manufacture electronics, but does plan to hire a pharmacist with heavyweight experience in the retail pharmacy industry. “So who are you, really?” the interviewer asks. 
The rest of the discussion doesn’t go well for you, not only because you’ve been away from the pharmacy industry for a number of years, but because the interviewer’s directness catches you off guard — and you certainly don’t want to admit you’re desperate to find employment in this decade of a shaky job market. Gulp! 
The Internet never forgets!
To avoid your own episodes of this simmering-under-the surface dilemma, why not merely post differing “private” versions of profiles and resumes? An obvious solution, but, alas, not much remains hidden on the Internet today.Most hiring professionals now Google candidates and screen them on social media before inviting them to interview. Here’s what they look for: 
  • Work history
  • Education and training
  • Recommendations from previous employers
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Activities and “likes”
  • Posted comments
  • Group affiliations
  • Pictures and videos
  • Comments and links posted by candidate’s friends
Although most of what employers look up online is pretty standard information, some recruiters try to uncover more controversial stuff and contract with a new breed of social media screening and monitoring service, such as the Social Intelligence Corporation in Santa Barbara, Calif. Such a digital backgroundchecking service can crack open even closed databases in the deep web.(For details of how easily your life and career path can become an open book, browse for articles like “Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You,” by Joel Stein.) 
The challenge of presenting more than one of you 
The multiple-identity pitfall is being noticed by experts who pay attention. As career-management legend John Lucht ( says, “A good rule is to assume that everything you put out online will be read — and in the context of everything else you have put out.”
Career authority Miriam Salpeter ( comments that the dilemma of multiple online identities is certainly a modern job seeker’s problem and makes this observation: “Gone are the days of being able to have multiple job/career personalities in place without being found out! There is really no perfect answer, but there are some considerations.”Salpeter, who is the author of the top-rated book Social Networking for Career Success (Learning Express), offers a number of ways to defuse the confused online identity problem before it happens, including this tip:“Don’t post multiple versions of your resume all over the Internet. In general, posting resumes online is not a useful strategy, anyway. If you’re a job seeker with several targets, it’s even less constructive to plaster information that may cause someone to think you can’t decide what you want to do.”Before digital days, positioning yourself as a perfectly qualified candidate for a specific job didn’t used to be so steep a hill to climb as it is for some candidates today. 
Putting Out Identity Fires 
When you’re after a choice job in a super-competitive market, the most likely outcome of your multiple-identity exposure is that you just won’t be invited to interview. You may never know why you’re missing out.But in case you’re called in for a closer look even though your presence online reveals two, three, or more separate professional identities, here’s what you can do to boost your candidacy.Untangle a same-name mix-upYou and another job seeker may share a common name. It happens. If you receive a screening call, sprint beyond this potential barbedwire fence with a simple response, as this example illustrates:I assume you checked online resources for “Karen Lee.” That’s me, Karen Lee the science teacher, but it’s also the name of Karen Lee the photographer, and Karen Lee the retail store manager, and Karen Lee the so on, and so on. What would you most like to know about me, Karen Lee the science teacher? 
Project Renaissance-quality talent 
Assume that you have three professional identities. Wear your multiple abilities as a badge of honor. Explain that you are not three different people, but one person with superb skill sets that can be applied in multiple industries.Add substance to your claim of exceptional ability in multiple areas by giving examples of famous people who often are described as “a Renaissance person.” Three examples follow:
  • Renaissance wonder Leonardo da Vinci was an artist, engineer, and inventor. We now know da Vinci as the great painter of the Mona Lisa, but in his time, he was sought out for his work as a military engineer. (Thanks to Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin,, for suggesting the Renaissance strategy.)
  • Before he was an engineer, a designer, an author, a systems theorist, and an inventor, Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller invented the geodesic dome, wrote more than 30 books, and created terms like synergetics and Spaceship Earth.
  • Woody “Renaissance” Allen, one of the most notable American film directors of the 21st century, writes, directs, and stars in his films — and, on the side, he plays a little jazz clarinet. He does it all.
Expand on your talents 
Early in your interview, without seeming to be boastful, take a page from Renaissance talent and say something like this:Luckily, I’m gifted with several strong talents. Thank you for recognizing how my ability and experience seem to be a perfect match for the requirements of your job. For example, —. 
Lean in to the challenge 
Display a positive attitude: “Without question, I’m highly qualified for more than one type of position.” When challenged, the best defense is a good offense: Confirm the advantages earned in your diverse work history. 
Yes, I was the senior vice president of marketing and sales for a giant company, as well as the CEO of a smaller one. And yes, they were in different industries. I’m a quick study. After succeeding in both positions, I believe I’ve demonstrated my versatility to move smoothly among various key posts that — in common — share the need for above-average competencies in management and leadership.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ECONOMICS: Should foreigners be charged more?

Should foreigners be charged more?

That is a sign from either the Mysore Zoo or the Somnathpur temple in Mysore. It may well be some other place. It doesn't matter. This practice of charging foreigners more is commonplace all over India. At virtually every major tourist attraction, you see something like this. The question is : is it fair to charge foreigners more? I used to feel differently about this. It seemed to me, at one point, grossly unfair. But I have now made my peace with it. It is just a case of price discrimination.

Price discrimination is used in a variety of industrial sectors. (For example: you pay a lot more for cellphones than people in other countries, e.g. India.) This particular instance seems to be a form of subsidy to Indian nationals, which seems okay. As I was saying, there is price discrimination going on in many other tourist attractions as well. And why is that? Because it is more costly for the government to go after someone who does deface monuments and other tourist structures if he is a foreigner. Why not pass the cost along to the consumer? It is annoying, yes, but I think it is because it is so in-your-face. It is not because it is inherently unfair.

Even in the United States, there is virtually the exact same phenomenon going on with out-of-state tuition rates. Out-of-state tuition rates are often ridiculously high. And then, these higher rates are used to subsidize people who are from the state. This is not unfair. It is just the economics of the matter. It is just the way the cookie crumbles.

Acknowledgements: picture courtesy Bhaskaran Raman (modulo some minor photoshopping).

INNOVATION: Moving over from Silicon

Meanwhile, from the University of Southern California:
When it comes to electronics, silicon will now have to share the spotlight. In a paper recently published in Nature Communications, researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering describe how they have overcome a major issue in carbon nanotube technology by developing a flexible, energy-efficient hybrid circuit combining carbon nanotube thin film transistors with other thin film transistors. This hybrid could take the place of silicon as the traditional transistor material used in electronic chips, since carbon nanotubes are more transparent, flexible, and can be processed at a lower cost. 
Electrical engineering professor Dr. Chongwu Zhou and USC Viterbi graduate students Haitian Chen, Yu Cao, and Jialu Zhang developed this energy-efficient circuit by integrating carbon nanotube (CNT) thin film transistors (TFT) with thin film transistors comprised of indium, gallium and zinc oxide (IGZO).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our very own Krishnan Shankar on Three Quarks Daily!

Research from our very own Krishnan Shankar is now on Three Quarks Daily. Check it out!

The mathematics of the everyday is often surprisingly deep and difficult. John Conway famously uses the departmental lounge of the Princeton mathematics department as his office. He claims to spend his days playing games and doing nothing with whomever happens to be in the lounge, but his conversations about seemingly mundane questions has led to no end of delightful and deep mathematics. Chatting with math folks about the everyday can quickly lead to undiscovered country.
A much loved tradition among any group of mathematicians is talking math in the department lounge at afternoon tea. Nearly every department has such a tea. Some are once a week, some every day. There may or may not be cookies. What is certain, though, is that everyone from the retired emeriti to undergraduate students are welcome to stop by for a revitalizing beverage and a chat. More often than not it leads to talk about interesting math. You can begin to imagine why John Conway hangs out in the Princeton math lounge and Alfréd Rényi joked "A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems" [1].

You might think the conversation swirls around the work of the latest winners of the Abel prize or folks trying to impress by describing the deep results of their morning's efforts. There is some of that. But just as often the conversation turns into an energetic discussion about the mathematics of the everyday. Several years ago I was involved in a heated discussion about whether or not the election laws of the State of Georgia could allow for a certain local election to become caught in an endless loop of runoff votes. The local media's description of the electoral rules seemed to allow this absurdity. Of course the argument could easily be resolved with a quick Google search, but where's the fun in that? A search was done, but not until all possible scenarios were thoroughly thrashed out and a nickel wagered.
My colleagues, Kimball Martin and Ravi Shankar, asked themselves an innocuous tea-time question: "How often should you clean your room?" Easy to ask, the question is surprisingly difficult to solve. In math problems come in three flavors: so easy as to be not very interesting, so hard as to be unsolvable, and the sweet spot in the middle where the questions are both interesting and solvable. When to clean your room turns out to be a question of the third kind.

The Stockholm Public Library
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

INNOVATION: Intel tech brings us closer to the world of 'Minority Report'

You've spent years -- decades -- typing on a keyboard and dragging your mouse around to control your computer. Intel wants to radically shake that all up. 
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich on Tuesday offered a glimpse into the company's vision of the near future with demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies, including gesture controls, facial recognition security prompts, drones that know how to move around obstacles and a jacket that can help the visually impaired sense what's around them. 
At the heart of many of the demonstrations during his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show was Intel's RealSense 3D, the company's depth-sensing camera technology. Intel is banking heavily on the future of RealSense. If successful, it could mean a radical change in how we interact with computers.