2018-09-28

5-2018 Who is better : Robert Wiener or Albert Einstein ?

Norbert Wiener was in fact very absent minded.

The following story is told about him: When they moved from Cambridge to Newton his wife, knowing that he would be absolutely useless on the move, packed him off to MIT while she directed the move. Since she was certain that he would forget that they had moved and where they had moved to, she wrote down the new address on a piece of paper, and gave it to him.

Naturally, in the course of the day, an insight occurred to him. He reached in his pocket, found a piece of paper on which he furiously scribbled some notes, thought it over, decided there was a fallacy in his idea, and threw the piece of paper away.

At the end of the day he went home (to the old address in Cambridge, of course). When he got there he realized that they had moved, that he had no idea where they had moved to, and that the piece of paper with the address was long gone.

Fortunately inspiration struck. There was a young girl on the street and he conceived the idea of asking her where he had moved to, saying, "Excuse me, perhaps you know me. I'm Norbert Wiener and we've just moved. Would you know where we've moved to?" To which the young girl replied, "Yes daddy, mommy thought you would forget."

4-2018 Gone for lunch... pls. wait

Here is another good one about Albert Einstein : He was once found sitting outside his office, because when returning to his own office he saw a “GONE TO LUNCH. BE BACK IN 10 MINUTES” sign.

Supposedly, he was found sitting outside, waiting for himself to come back.

3-2018 Einstein in a train

Can you believe it ? This is a story about the most incredibly brilliant mind of our times.

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it."

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."

2018-04-29

2-2018 Teaching by misleading

A good teacher never misleads his/her students. Right ? Wrong ?

As a teacher, I often ask questions in the class, basically to nudge and provoke my students to think. Sometime these questions have a misleading hint, just to confuse the student and lead him/her to the right concept. My favourite one is in my class on "number theory" when I wave my palm with all fingers open, and ask the question "show me the number five". The students invariably fall for the visual cue (my open palm) and fumble around, till I emphasise that a number is only an abstraction and cannot be used/shown all alone. I feel that such (misleading) prompting questions can often be useful in the classroom. But, this should be done in moderation and very carefully.

What does this community think about my approach ? Send me a mail.

2018-01-08

1-2018 Book Review "Formula. How algorithms ..."

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems . . . and Create More
Paperback – November 3, 2015
by Luke Dormehl (Author)
Pub.: Perigee, Penguin Random House, NY, Nov.2015.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tarcher Perigee; Reprint edition (November 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399170545
ISBN-13: 978-0399170546

This book drew my attention because of its deceptively worded title. I spent some time on it, trying to figure out what the author was trying to communicate.

The author, Luke Dormehl is a journalist and technology writer. With a background in documentary film, he has contributed to Fast Company, Wired, Politico, The Sunday Times, and other publications.

The author must be appreciated for his honesty in admitting what this book is NOT about. It is certainly not a book on "How algorithms solve all our problems....." Neither is it a book on mathematics, logic or philosophy. There is not a single formula except for its mention in the title of the book. The author has gathered an impressive list of references and avoided mention of any reference to any author or article related to algorithms. The book is just a clumsy collection of rhetorical generalisations drowned in journalistic verbosity. This is proof that literate eloquence does not always lead to intelligent discourse.

Of course, the book did not answer any of the questions prompted in the title.

I am not disappointed.

***