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".

Sunday, September 30, 2012

More Paul Daniels

A very nice trick. In this trick, Paul Daniels, of course, uses the Sullivan-Bose effect to create the visual illusion of embossed lettering.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Go First dice

From 'The Guardian' :

When two or more people roll a die each in order to see who scores highest – what you do, for example, when deciding who goes first in a board game – there is always the chance of a tie. In the event of a tie, of course, you roll again. But then there is still the chance of a tie. And this can go on ad infinitum. 
In other words, the process is not as efficient as it could be. Eric wondered if he could come up with a set of fair dice such that one roll of each die is enough to establish an absolute winner. In devising a solution – and thus saving the board game players of the world hours and hours of lost time – Eric and a friend have made the greatest innovation in dice technology in recent years. 
Their set of four "Go First" dice (pictured above) are such that when two, three or all four of the dice are rolled together: 
1) no ties are possible.2) each die has an equal chance of displaying the highest number. 
Eric's friend is Robert Ford, a mathematics professor at Dalton State College, Georgia. Initially they were considering a set of eight cubic dice, but Robert worked out that it was impossible to have a set of cubic dice that satisfied the two conditions. He then looked at a set of four dodecahedral dice – the 12-sided dice that are used in Dungeons & Dragons – and after a week found a solution, which include all the numbers from 1 to 48 with no repeats: 
Die 1: 1, 8, 11, 14, 19, 22, 27, 30, 35, 38, 41, 48 
Die 2: 2, 7, 10, 15, 18, 23, 26, 31, 34, 39, 42, 47 
Die 3: 3, 6, 12, 13, 17, 24, 25, 32, 36, 37, 43, 46 
Die 4: 4, 5, 9, 16, 20, 21, 28, 29, 33, 40, 44, 45 
These dice satisfy Eric's requirements: if you roll any subset of them, each die has an equal chance of winning.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Comment : Email to Chomsky on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife

My email to Prof. Noam Chomsky on the recent paper by Karen King 'Jesus said to them, My wife ...' :

A note on interpretation - notice the clever use of the subordinate clause qualifying "I" in the second sentence. I think I have slipped past Chomsky's defenses in implying that *I* am one of the people in the world with a tremendous historical perspective, which is not something I am going to correct Chomsky on if that is the interpretation he is going with. Just kidding, of course. I am posting this since this topic has significant relevance for India.


Dear Prof. Chomsky,

I read with interest Prof. Karen King's paper "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...". As one of the people in the world with a tremendous historical perspective, I would be interested in your response to some comments I have below from an organizational perspective.

As somebody who studies organizations, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the extent to which organizations are path dependent. It seems to me that there is one little aspect of the world's longest surviving non-profit organization, the Catholic Church, that seems worth discussing in this regard - the Catholic Church has stipulated celibacy for priests. One of the main reasons given for this has been their assumption that Jesus was celibate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

India and Olympic sports

It has been an increasingly common complaint that Social Scientific Theories lack predictive power, but the ones I discuss below do not suffer from this problem. I can confidently state that for every year that is divisible by four, India will send a contingent to the Olympics and that said contingent will perform underwhelmingly. Furthermore, I can also quite confidently assert that there will be a general outpouring of strum und drang following each Olympics in India where journalists and everyday folks like you and me wonder if there is something we are doing wrong. Nirmal Sekhar writes about the performance of India in the most recent Olympics in The Hindu :

My dear readers, let us get real. We have failed the Koms and the Yogeshwars and the rest as much as we seem to believe that many Indian athletes have failed us. They don’t owe us as much as we owe them.

We need to follow their careers, cheer them from grassroots up, care about how they are treated by the administrators, worry about how they are ignored by the big corporate giants who would readily part with $10m for a 15-second TV ad campaign featuring a Sachin Tendulkar or a Gautam Gambhir. But we don’t.

We simply don’t give a damn most of the time and then bemoan their lack of success at the Olympics once every four years.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Elijah the Prophet : a fantasy with riddle

For no particular reason other than the fact that the story has a riddle in the end, here is an extract from a story by Sholem Aleichem.

 An old man with a great gray beard down to his knees. An old face, yellow, wrinkled endlessly, fine and good. And eyes-such eyes. Good tender friendly loving and faithful eyes. Stooped over a great, great cane with a sack on his shoulders-and sha shtill, he comes wordlessly straight to me.

“Nu, yingeleh get into the sack,” says the old man to me so softly and sweetly.

I ask him: “To where?” He replies: “You’ll see afterwards.” I don’t want to go.” He tells me again. I ask him: “How can I go with you? I’m a rich man’s son.” Says he: “So you’re a rich man’s son, what yichus [family connection] is that? By me, you’re not an only son.” Say I: “Fussed over, from seven the sole survivor. They’ll find out that I’m gone and they’ll not be able to bear it. They’ll die, especially Mama.” He looks at me, the old man, softly and sweetly like earlier: “If you don’t come with me, sleep well, but sleep forever.” I begin to cry: “Does that mean that I will die? They’ll not be able to endure it, especially Mama.” “You don’t want to die? Then come with me. Separate from your parents and come.” “What do you mean? How can I go? I’m an only son, from seven the sole survivor.” He speaks up more strongly to me: “For the last time, yingel, choose one of the two: either separate forever from your parents and come with me or remain here and sleep forever. Forever.”

When he finished these words he took a step away from me and turned to the door. What should I do? Go with the old man God knows where, to oblivion–and my parents would die? An only son, from seven the sole survivor? Or remain here and sleep forever? That means that I myself would die. I hold out to him both my hands with tears in my eyes: “Elyohu HaNovi, good, loving Elyohu, give me a moment to think.” He turns to me his fine old yellow wrinkled face with the great gray beard down to his knees. He looks at me with his fine good loving faithful eyes and gives me a smile: “One minute I give you to think, my child, but no more.”

The old man leans on his great, great cane and waits.

The question is: what could I devise in that minute so that I needn’t have to go with the old man or sleep forever. Ah, nu, who can guess?

Update (September 10): A correction : it isn't quite true that this story was posted for no particular reason. I sent the piece below "Now, I don't want to sound like a politician ..." to a professor and he said that this piece reminded him of Sholem Aleichem. It is the sort of stuff I was aiming for. It is not that I had Sholem Aleichem specifically in mind, but it is done in the same folksy sort of a way and it is, like, you know, kind of intended to talk about everyday people and their concerns, but it is also designed to satirize larger things. So, color me pleased.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mind reading

Paul Daniels does some mind reading.

The trick works, I think, because the return valence of any smoothly packed set of robust dodecahedrons is never less than four.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Other transliteration schemes

Three other transliteration schemes are the ITRANS scheme, IAST and Velthuis. Here is what the Devanagari vowels look like in these above schemes (table courtesy Wikipedia).




Monday, September 10, 2012

The world's largest known prime - and a puzzle

Courtesy Fabrice Bellard, here is a compact computer program in C to print out the world's largest known prime.

int m=167772161,N=1,t[1<<25]={2},a,*p,i,e=34893349,s,c,U=1;g(d,h){for(i=s;i<1<<24;i*=2)d=d*1LL*d%m;for(p=t;p<t+N;p+=s)for(i=s,c=1;i;i--)a=p[s]*(h?c:1LL)%m,p[s]=(m+*p-a)*(h?1LL:c)%m,a+=*p,*p++=a%m,c=c*1LL*d%m;}main(){while(e/=2){N*=2;U=U*1LL*(m+1)/2%m;for(s=N;s/=2;)g(17,0);for(p=t;p<t+N;p++)*p=*p*1LL**p%m*U%m;for(s=1;s<N;s*=2)g(29606852,1);for(a=0,p=t;p<t+N;)a+=*p<<(e&1),*p++=a%10,a/=10;}while(!*--p);for(t[0]--;p>=t;)putchar(48+*p--);}

The program is just 438 characters in length. It compiles quite quickly on the MacBook Pro and requires less than 5 minutes of running time.

This number, the largest known prime, belongs to a class of primes called Mersenne primes and has the value  243112609-1. It has no less than 13 million digits. I ran the program earlier today, and have pasted the first ten lines or so of the output below. I have a little mnemonic scheme to remember long strings of numbers and so I created a mnemonic to remember the first ten digits of the number. And so if you ever wanted to commit to memory the digits of the world's largest prime, you can start right here :

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Now, I don't want to sound like a politician ...

Now, I don't want to sound like a politician, but it is true. America is special. What leads me to say this? Well, a friend sent me a video of an alien's handiwork caught on tape. No, wait. You've got to hear me out. In fact, I too was initially dismissive. E.T.? In America? No way! But as a good social scientist, I went back to check her claims against data. For the record, it was she who thought it was not a ghost as claimed in the video but an alien. And her claim pans out. It is true. I am sorry, folks. There are extraterrestrial aliens in America.

"How did you validate this?", you ask. Very simply - by viewing the video she sent me. She thought it might be a ghost. I think it is almost certainly an alien. Because that is my gut feeling. It comes straight from my gut. And furthermore, by compiling statistics based on documentaries that have been made on the topics of aliens over the past 60 years, I have arrived at a facts-based political solution to the problem of aliens. It may be noted that a significant fraction of documentaries made about aliens over the past 60 years have been about aliens in the Western Hemisphere. The most popular movies about aliens are about aliens in the United States. Aliens tend to visit major metro centers in America typically. That is what the statistics tell us. Now that we have these facts before us, it goes without saying that these facts are the only facts worth considering. People who deny this only do it because they hate America.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Paul Daniels - India Magic

Paul Daniels maxes out on India-ness in this piece. You are advised to watch with volume set to low.

If you ask me, the sound of the pipe (beeN) increases the levitatory coefficient in the rope due to the ringlidorian effect causing it to rise.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The theme for September and office hours

The theme for September is "Science and superstition". I am also going to make posts on the general theme of "India and politics" and so this month's posts will be a miscellany. The office hours for September were this Monday. The next office hours are on October 1 and November 5 between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m.