Friday, May 19, 2017

The Onion Wins Again: Roger Ailes Edition

The Onion wins yet again! This one is really funny.

An Excellent Straw Man

This SMBC is awesome! I am highly amused.

This may be my favorite ever straw man.

Blessing Computers with Holy Water

On Facebook, Jean Bellissard shared the following rather amusing article. Besides laughing, an immediate thing to do was to do a Google search and see if this was fake. That led me to this article, which notes among other things that a picture being circulated widely now is from 2013. However, the following quote also appears in the article:

"Apparently, it’s a common practice in Russia for Orthodox priests to bless server rooms and other technology equipment. So, it won’t be wrong to assume that priests might be really called in upcoming days to bless the computers once again. I just hope that priests would be careful enough to not get the water inside the PCs; I’m sure that computer suppliers won’t be enthusiastic to replace damage due to water."

I am amused.

Also, our printers could use some holy water.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Map of Literature's Epic American Road Trips

This visualization of epic American road trips from literature is very cool!

You have walks on networks, you have different ones that you can compare to each other, and you also have descriptions from the authors of these different places.

(Tip of the cap to Bonnie Harland.)

A Big Pile of ... Linear Algebra

That's right. In many cases, machine learning is a big pile of ... linear algebra.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Clever Displays in Bookstores

Like this one.

(Tip of the cap to James Gleick.)

"Quasi-Centralized Limit Order Books"

One of my papers got assigned its final journal coordinates today. (It came out a few months ago in advanced access.) Here are the details.

Title: Quasi-Centralized Limit Order Books

Authors: Martin D. Gould, Mason A. Porter, and Sam D. Howison

Abstract: A quasi-centralized limit order book (QCLOB) is a limit order book (LOB) in which financial institutions can only access the trading opportunities offered by counterpartieswithwhomthey possess sufficient bilateral credit. In this paper, we perform an empirical analysis of a recent, high-quality data set from a large electronic trading platform that utilizes QCLOBs to facilitate trade. We argue that the quote-relative framework often used to study other LOBs is not a sensible reference frame for QCLOBs, so we instead introduce an alternative, trade-relative framework, which we use to study the statistical properties of order flow and LOB state in our data. We also uncover an empirical universality: although the distributions that describe order flow and LOB state vary considerably across days, a simple, linear rescaling causes them to collapse onto a single curve. Motivated by this finding, we propose a semi-parametric model of order flow and LOB state for a single trading day. Our model provides similar performance to that of parametric curve-fitting techniques but is simpler to compute and faster to implement.

Why I Joined the American Physical Society

The American Physical Society (APS) e-mailed its 2016 Fellows to ask them to write a sentence or two about why they joined the APS.

They wrote: "If you can tell us in a sentence or two why you chose to be a member of APS, and we use your quote in the APS membership brochure, we will send you one item of your choice from the APS store."

Here is what I decided to write: I chose to join APS because my research as an applied mathematician also interfaces with numerous areas of physics (and I publish much of my work in physics journals), and I wanted to make sure that I am also part of the physics community. I was already playing ultimate frisbee with physicists in grad school, and this was the natural next step.

Do you think they'll use my quote?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Patent Application (from 2012): "Devices and Implements for Deterring Monsters, Specters, Demons, and the Like"

This patent application, filed in 2012, is called "Devices and implements for deterring monsters, specters, demons, and the like".

Here is a choice excerpt: Devices and implements for staving off monsters, specters, demons and the like as imagined by a child at bedtime. A hand-held controller unit is provided having a user interface, which is capable of being used by the child under the bed covers of a bed. The hand-held controller unit may include any of a walkie-talkie capability, a flashlight capability, a nightlight capability, the capability to activate an external device, and other capabilities. At least one external device may be provided which is capable of being placed beneath the bed and is configured to be activated by the hand-held controller unit. At least one substantially hollow air-through member may be provided which is configured to facilitate airflow between underneath the bed covers of the bed and above the bed covers of the bed. A supplemental bed cover may be provided that is configured to be placed on the bed.

Personally, I am most afraid of "the like".

Also, the Google Patent listing says the patent was granted.

(Tip of the cap to the Improbable Research Blog.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Museum Notice of the Day

Wow! This is spectacular!

(Tip of the cap to Meghan Duffy.)

Congratulations to Sandy Patel!

Support staff member Sandy Patel of University of Oxford's Mathematical Institute won the Oxford University Students Union award for best support staff. Congratulations!

Credit where it is due on two counts:

(1) Sandy is a very good member of support staff! I have interacted with support staff at many places, and good ones versus bad ones make a huge difference in academic experience. Sandy always stood out during my time at Oxford as one of the really good ones. The number of times I have told my students to 'Go ask Sandy Patel." (and similar) is very numerous indeed.

(2) And credit to my former employer (the Oxford Mathematical Institute) for publishing Sandy's award on their website and circulating it on Twitter. This type of recognition is almost always in the background and it shouldn't be. (I learned this from grad school, where we had the awesome Dolores Pendell, versus nearly everywhere else I have been.) We spend a lot of time bragging about the scientific accomplishments of faculty (and occasionally also their teaching accomplishments, though not enough), but we almost never publicize things when our support staff are excellent (though we do complain loudly when they're not), and we should!

Classic Typewriter Exhibit at San Fransisco International Airport

This is really cool!

The typewriter in the picture below is part of a current exhibit in terminal 2 of SFO airport.

Among the things I enjoyed when on sabbatical at Stanford were the really cool exhibitions at SFO. Among other things, this included one of classic boardgames.

Harry McCracken also posted pictures of several other typewriters from the exhibit on his Twitter feed. Take a look at this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one. This should be all of the typewriter pictures that he posted as part of this thread.

(Tip of the cap to Sydney Padua.)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lyrical Repetition in Pop Music

Here is a cool article about lyrical repetition (and compression possibilities) in pop music and how it's changed over the last few decades.

I of course decided to look at how Depeche Mode stacks up, and I zoomed up on them as an individual artist.

From the song and artist library they used, Depeche Mode is listed as the band from the 1990s with the least repetitive lyrics, though it does only use a subset of their songs and it listed them in the 1990s instead of the 1980s. (Naturally, the employed songs span multiple decades.)

The most lyrically repetitive Depeche Mode song is very obvious.

(Tip of the cap to Taha Yasseri and I Fucking Love Data.)

Article Title of the Day: "Ex-bullfighter and Maths Genius Among Candidates Standing for Macron"

The title of this article is fantastic! (Note that the article preview on Facebook has a slightly different title, with "Female" before the word "ex-bullfighter".)

I had already heard that Cédric Villani is one of the candidates standing for Macron (and that itself is awesome!), but I really like the article title in this case.

Also, the second sentence in the article's description of Villani is amusing: Cédric Villani, 43, who in 2010 won the Fields medal, the equivalent of the Nobel prize in mathematics, will stand for Macron in a suburban Paris district. The mathematician is known for his dandy-ish looks, long hair and collection of floppy bow ties.

(Tip of the cap to Yves van Gennip for this specific article.)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Live-Action "Balloon Fight"

Take a look at this cool video.

This reminds me of a game called Balloon Fight that I played many moons ago on my NES. This game was very underrated. (It is an excellent game!)

(Tip of the cap to Guillermo Valle Pérez.)

Sydney Padua is Awesome!

In case you didn't realize this (and in that case you're missing out), Sydney Padua is awesome!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hiding and Sneaking in Bushes and in Barrels

It seems that Sean Spicer is trying to take a page out of the book of some video games, as he literally hid amongst bushes and behind a tall hedge to try to avoid reporters. Naturally, the internet has has a field day with this.

Here is a choice quote from the Washington Post article above: "White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrapped up his brief interview with Fox Business from the White House grounds late Tuesday night and then disappeared into the shadows, huddling with his staff near a clump of bushes and then behind a tall hedge. To get back to his office, Spicer would have to pass a swarm of reporters wanting to know why President Trump suddenly decided to fire the FBI director."

Her clearly did not play enough Zelda games as a child. Here is how to properly sneak past people while hiding in a barrel.

We continue to live in a Coen Brothers movie. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion (from a seat on the train, unfortunately).

Update: I just noticed the following tweet.

Update (5/11/17): And then there's this beauty.

Update (5/12/17): This Garden Spicer is pretty damn funny. (Tip of the cap to Maria Satterwhite, though I believe she shared a different article about the same item.)

Is it Wrong to Publish in the Journal Complicity?

Note: There need not be anything inherently wrong with publishing a paper in the journal Complicity, despite its name.

Monday, May 08, 2017

"Standard", Oxford, Walken, and Shatner Commas

Hell yes!!!

WarGames: "Lunch Order"

The new xkcd makes me think of the movie WarGames (which I really ought to watch again), although I suppose it's more like the inverse of it.

The Imperial Pikachu March

Pikachus marching to the sound of "The Imperial March" is highly amusing! See for yourself!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Replacing "Big Data" by "Batman" in Tweets

This Twitter account takes tweets and replaces "Big Data" with "Batman". Hilarity ensues.

Here is an example.

(Tip of the cap to Esteban Moro.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Map Only a Topologist Would Love

OK, maybe not literally, but I do expect topologists to be fond of this map of the border between Belgium and The Netherlands at Baarle-Nassau.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Not The Twilight Zone, but The Brillouin Zone

It occurs to me that one should initially introduce the idea of a Brillouin zone to students as if it were narrated by Rod Serling in the style of The Twilight Zone. It might go something like this:

There is a primitive cell in reciprocal space beyond that which is known to undergraduates. It is a fundamental unit into which that space is divided. It can tile lattices as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It leads to a sequence of disjoint equal-volume regions at increasing distances from the origin, and it lies between the pit of physicists' fears and the summit of their knowledge. This is the region of imagination. It is an area which we call THE BRILLOUIN ZONE.

Update: Joshua Bodyfelt produced a really nice picture after seeing my quote above on Facebook. Here it is.

An Amazing Short Cartoon

"Alike" is an amazing short cartoon that you should watch!

(I saw this on Facebook via a post with which one of my friends interacted. I don't remember the name of the poster.)