Perfect Synergy

The past summer, I was at the REU in UMBC. The head of the math department guy preached about the future of mathematics is the intersection of mathematics, statistics and computing; I agree to a large extent. 

What I ended up working on seemed to be computing, with more computing, with very little mathematical analysis. The system of differential equations that described pancreatic cells was far too advanced for me to do some significant analysis. Heck, that’s how I feel about most of pure mathematics: the interesting problems are always out of reach from what I know.

Before this past winter break, I found a cool book called “Risk and Reward” in the math library. It’s all about the, surprisingly deep, game of casino blackjack, from the strategies to the mathematics behind the analysis. In the analysis portion of the book, 90% of all the results seems to be dependent on the a computer, but with relatively simple probability concepts.

If I ever do become a professor of some sorts, I want to be able to teach a class based on games like blackjack and poker. For projects of sorts, the task will be to calculate the probability of various conditions and to figure out the strategies from the math I provide in class. Maybe for a (optional) final, it’s to actually play the games that we studied in class…

As an exercise over the break, I took an existing program and added the functionality to “practice” the card counting went over the book. It’s based on this project which I butchered (honestly, I spent 2 days doing this… trying to understand someone else’s code is tough). To run the program, make sure Python is installed, and run Download

Her and Bioshock

After watching the movie “Her“, I can’t help but think what the implications are for technology and human interaction in the future. What happens when artificial intelligence, on the scale of Samantha, is created? Will we as a being really turn towards that “perfect” relationship with a computer instead of nurturing (and suffering through) one with another human?

Those serious and interesting questions aside, I had no idea the voice of Samantha was of  the beautiful Scarlett Johansson. In my mind, I pictured someone who was quite beautiful just from the voice alone.

Same thing happened in Bioshock Infinite: the voice of Elizabeth seemed to be from a pretty attractive women (of course, the fact that the character itself was meticulously crafted to be pretty helped).
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Turns out this isn’t a coincidence that a more pleasant voice goes along with a more attractive face. From paper:

Men were in strong agreement on which was an attractive voice and face; and women with attractive faces had attractive voices.

Whelp, I guess I’ll never voice a video game character.


It seems like the math department has a vendetta against me: they won’t allow me to be a course assistant in the spring semester for two years now. Thank god I got a Takenote job this time (taking notes for econometric); how else am I going to have the funds to buy a SSD/a parka/Bicycle decks?

Also, never shall I live in the far north if I can help it; this cold inhibits everything.

Lending Club

There’s a website called Lending Club to facilitate peer-to-peer lending; I’ve been playing around with it, and lending a few people money. So far, one of the person I’ve loaned to has not paid for 4 months now.

This initially pissed me off. “This guy just took my money and ran!” But I noticed that this person’s credit score has been dropping like a rock.

Screenshot from 2014-01-20 23:58:55 Initially, this guy wanted the $2,000 loan for just home improvement, and was making a decent salary. Just makes me wonder how much of a selfish prick I am to not realize that either this guy passed, or recently lost his job; all I cared about was how do I get my measly $25 principal back.

Whoever you are, I wish you the best. (And when you can, just pay back the money.)

Equation to a Modern Family



On the recent Modern Family episode, Claire was seen giving a lecture to the AP Calculus teacher on how many hours each student are expected to spend each night on school work (totally off for the record…).

Strangely enough there was the word “Schrodinger’s” on the board. Never in AP calculus did I

  1. Do partial differentiation
  2. Learn about Schrodinger’s

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure of the derivation to that equation…

Still, they did get something right! The theorem to the far left seems to be Rolle’s Theorem!

/r/math Problem of the Week 2

Two real numbers x and y are chosen at random in the interval (0, 1) with respect to the uniform distribution. What is the probability that the closest integer to x/y is even? Express your answer in terms of pi.

If one were to draw the area where x/y is even, it’s pretty clear from the get-go that we will have something like the following:



I looked at the problem from the viewpoint of lines (x/y = 1/2, x/y = 3/2, …). This results in the following series from summing the area of the triangles (don’t forget to divide by 2):

\frac{1}{4} + (\frac{1}{3} - \frac{1}{5} + \frac{1}{7} - \frac{1}{9} + \cdots)

Luckily, the series at the end is basically \frac{pi}{4} from the arctan series expansion. Thus the answer is \frac{5 + \pi}{4}.

Biddle Trick Variation

I’ve been going on a card magic binge this break, going through Card College and various videos such as the Born to Perform DVD. By far the simplest, but still incredibly effective, trick was the Biddle trick as seen above. The sleights are very simple, and easy to execute. As a result, it’s great for building up the confidence to perform (I guess there’s a reason for the DVD’s title).

Still, I didn’t like how he handled the beginning. I found that using a peek control and riffling past the selected card to hold the break seems more natural for me. As justification, I say something like “are you sure you wanted that card? could’ve picked any of these fine cards!”