Saturday, October 24, 2009

why data collection is important

% of iitians areawise.

every year, i am told by an iit professor, there are 10 lakh students appearing for a JEE exam. there are a total of 5000 seats in all the IIT's put together. what are the odds for a student to get in?

5000/1000000, or more precisely, 1 in every 2000. what is the population of three streets put together in madras? probably 1 kid can make it to the IIT's from the one half of kodambakkam. what about the coaching classes? if we consider their success rates, and update the probability, the student who doesnt have the advantage of coaching and who is mediocre, and relies completely on his effort is almost out of contention.(exceptions.)

what is the number of people missing a train by a couple of seconds because of a crowd? lets say a train can accomodate 500 people, at any given time, at the rate of 60 passengers to a 8 car rake train.(very conservative). for every station, lets say there are 20 people boarding, and 10 people getting down. what happens now? assuming the time for detrain of one passenger is 1 second, and the time for boarding is 1 second, and it is a perfect world with perfect order, and the train stops for 25 seconds, there is a possibility that 5 people may not make it. and that multiplied by 8. 40, out of a total of 160 people. 25%!

this is why we need to improve our models. why is this model crude? it does not take into account irrational behavior, nor does it account of lack of order. everything is assumed, even if we have the data for all passengers getting in, or getting out, which could be any one of the million probability distributions. (or completely empirical for that matter).

some other interesting things that we can model: infiltration of terrorists on the borders, number of people missing from an area, correlation of garbage density and flu, suicide rates and living index...

an example of exaggeration:

how much can you save if you dont brush your teeth twice, and do it only once? a standard toothpaste has 150 mg of toothpaste. and, every use takes around 1.5 to 2 g. so, for a day, its 3g.(lets say it is 1.5 g). now, at this rate, it is possible the toothpaste tube lasts for 50 days. but, what happens when you do it only once? 3 months and 10 days. in terms of savings, that is half of what you would have to spend. so, for 100 years, the amount of money you would spend(at Rs 30 per tube) would have been reduced from Rs 21000 to Rs 10500. now, whoever told you that brushing twice was healthy, was clearly not aware of this!(a stray idea just to emphasize data manipulation to absurdity).

now that, is nonsense! blowing it out of proportion to make the numbers seem significant is an extreme exercise that can only addle the weak.

what does this post really mean? that we have to careful about data. and also, that i am jobless in the middle of the fall quarter, during which i managed to get my hands on outliers.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Tamils need excellent soft skills

Why suddenly you may ask? It is not a sudden topic though. I have been observing that we, the Tamils, generally tend to neglect soft skills. I don't want to make any comparison in this topic. But I want to make sure that we understand the veracity of the problem and react to it. Why are the soft skills very important in Tamils case? Yes, it is as important as hard skills. Most Tamils tend to take pride in their mother tongue which is a laudable act because we want to preserve our language and pass it on to the next generation but this pride is self destructive in some sense.

This is the right time that all Tamils should embrace English and master it because it will pave ways for us to improve our communication with other Indians and also with the International community. Communication skills are the most important skill in the business arena. If we are good at the skills i.e. particularly English, we can build business relationships with many people and also spread Tamil as a business language. This will help Tamil survive forever with minimal effort.

I may be wrong in pointing out that we lack soft skills, so I would like to invite active participation in debating on this topic. I think we should once again rekindle our language learning spirits. Btw, I understand soft skills is not only the Language ability but there are lots more to it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Which is More Painful ?

To those who've been keeping up with my facebook notes, this is one post that you'd have already read. Once in a while when I really have nothing to do I go back to read the nonsense that I've written :D and I thought I'd repost this one here on Spotalks and see if it'd interest any of you.

Happy Reading!


Which is More Painful?

Everything in this universe, comes in pairs - it's the principle of duality, if you will.
Male and Female, Light and Dark, Active and Passive, Motion and Stillness, Anger & Peace, Night and Day, Love and Hate, the list is endless.

Evolution has been (un)kind to our race, with an added 6th sense, enabling us to feel, to sense, to express, to think, to dream, to rationalize, fueling an intrinsic part of human behavior - our need for intimacy and affection, to be taken care of, to be loved. And that very need in itself separates us, but not simply as men and women, how for centuries traditional love woes have been seen to group. Rather, men and women alike display duality - Some Yearn to be Loved while others Yearn to Provide it.

A relationship means many things to many people, but fundamentally, it is our need to call someone as our own, to live our lives in an undying companionship. When immersed in loneliness, there are two subconscious emotions one is bound to feel, fueling their need for a partner. They will either be sorrowed by having no one to shower them with the care and affection they feel they deserve and pine for, or, they will be burdened, by carrying a heart filled with love, a multitude of raw emotions, but the inability to nurture, or express their affections.

So which is more painful, and which side of the duality are you?
Are you seeking love, or are you seeking to provide it?
Are you waiting for someone to embrace you or are you waiting to cradle someone in your arms?
Are you looking for your tears to be swept, or are you looking to sweep someone else's away?

What does your heart truly desire?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Please read this!!!!!!!!

Hi spotalks readers,

This is the most inspiring story I have ever read in my life. This guy deserve more than respect if you have enough money try to donate some to his noble cause.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Books and Us

Every year, thousands of books get published. Frankly, I am amazed that so many people are writing so much stuff - fiction or otherwise. But I am equally glad that they do, so folks like me get to select from a huge variety of reading stuff.

Fiction: Pick up any good fiction book- thriller, detective, murder, romance, drama, family and it is only a matter of few pages before we get lost in the world we are reading about. Rich and soul-touching characters, highly descriptive backdrops that make us feel, hear,smell and taste the story along with the characters themselves and a plot that gets one staying late into the night all make for an excellent experience. Lazy afternoons spent on a recliner with a good book and lemonade/chips beside are my idea of a great weekend.

Non-fiction: How do you learn everything possible about a place or people without visiting it? Read a good book. Books by themselves can bring the world to you and by extension, you to the world. It is hard not to get inspired reading all those biographies and auto biographies, a sort of time travel if you think about it, getting into the minds and lives of people who lived so long before us. Then there are the books about science, nature, technology, religion, self help, tribal people, relationships, etc that just about pack a power punch of brain stimulants.

The next time you happen to pass by a library, peek in. Getting lost in the world of books is the best thing that I can wish for a friend. Hope you get lost, if not already.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

the five sacred pillars

1: leaving a friend high and dry when he is alone.

when a friend is down, it falls on you to stay by him, and mock him and make fun of his state, until he is revolted and slaps you in the face, or does something equally damaging.(guard your groin though). why? there are no laws, but there is something called trust. a friend is hurt, and he may choose to be miserable, but it falls upon you to ruin his misery and make him worse, and lighten his problems by making the whole problem absurd. reductio ad absurdum.

2: parents, the universe itself

they might complain, say the awkward things at the wrong time, be completely ignorant of the present day trends, and yes, might be unaware of internet. but that they should never become obsolete in the lives of their children, and vice versa. it is a very sincere but fragile bond, very sensitive, yet too beautiful.

3: girl. the girl

lives of men revolve around women. But for a women, there wouldnt have been the trojan wars, or the great mahabaratha or the ramayana. it is simple things that people fail to understand in a relationship that causes a rift, and tugs at the core of a lasting bond. relationships are illusions, but very strong ones that they can appear more than real. finally, it must be remembered, "hell hath no fury like a women scorned". watch out.

4. mentor. a beacon light

not the teacher, but the guide. there is a ocean of a difference between the two. a person who can understand us and make us understand is different from the one who wants us to understand because he is getting paid. he can be a butcher, as much as a investment banker; it is only when he/she spots the talent and tries to nurture it, instead of smothering it, we find a mentor.

what are we doing? why should we do this? is there something that keeps us going? why do we fail to understand? or is this not understanding, or that is this not a failure? what is what? what is why? when do we understand what we should understand? and what are we supposed to understand? when do we stop asking questions? when do we stop looking for answers?

none of these questions make sense to the larger section of people.(you question again, do you not-what about the remaining section?) but something seems to be like the air, guiding us through this tragi-comedy of life, a farce so dull and insipid, and at times so inspiring and magical, at times educating and mellowing, at times over burdening with pride and ego, at times absurd and meaningless, and at times over powering and catechiztic, a contradiction of values, unpredictable and ultimately absolute.