Leap Day Bonus Post

Hello gentle reader. This week is a bit hectic for me, so I don’t have time for a proper update. But what with it being Leap Day and all, I thought it only appropriate to share some kind of gift with you.

If you have the time, below is an excellent documentary from the 90′s on Fermat’s Last Theorem and Andrew Wiles, the man who set his sights on proving it. It’s a great documentary, and may have somewhat blown my mind when I first saw it as a high school student. So take some time out from your Leap Day (it is a bonus block of 24 hours, after all) and check it out!

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Interview Roulette

Recently I started reading How Would You Move Mount Fuji?, a 2003 book written by William Poundstone on the history and popularization of the puzzle-focused job interview. The presence of logic puzzles or seemingly unanswerable questions was once a staple of many job interviews in Silicon Valley, and while the book is much more than just a laundry list of good puzzles, it’s hard to write about puzzles without giving some juicy examples.

Today I’d like to talk about one of the earliest puzzles discussed in the books, and show how one can pretty quickly poke and prod this brain teaser until it becomes a different beast entirely. Here it is, with wording taken from the book:

“Let’s play a game of Russian roulette,” begins one interview stunt that is going the rounds at Wall Street investment banks. ”You are tied to your chair and can’t get up. Here’s a . . . → Read More: Interview Roulette

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Are the 49ers skilled, or just lucky? Part 2.

In my previous post, I asked whether the San Francisco 49ers’ improbably successful season was due more to luck (say, by being granted a relatively easy schedule), or due to real improvements in the skill of the team. By comparing the 2011 season with the 2010 season and correcting the schedule for the number of wins and losses each team accrued, I concluded that the level of difficulty of the team’s schedule year over year was roughly the same, and therefore more of their success should be attributed to skill rather than luck.

In this follow-up, I’d like to dig a little deeper into measurements of the 49ers’ skill, in an attempt to further bolster the above claim. If you are a football fan, then you are fortunate to have me write two football-themed posts in a row. If you are not a football fan, fear not; with the season . . . → Read More: Are the 49ers skilled, or just lucky? Part 2.

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Are the 49ers skilled, or just lucky?

Fans of the two football teams who face off in the Super Bowl will no doubt spend the weekend filled with nervous anticipation – hopeful that their team will emerge victorious, but certain of the knowledge that there can only be one champion. For the rest of us, we must hang our heads with relative degrees of shame, and bide our time until the next season brings with it the promise of new opportunities for all 32 NFL teams.

For a San Francisco 49ers fan like myself, most of the last decade has been spent in a fairly constant state of disappointment. But after ten years without a playoff appearance, the team blossomed this season under the influence of new head coach Jim Harbaugh, and came within one game of their first Super Bowl appearance since 1995.

This poster hangs proudly in our apartment.

Despite a great season, in . . . → Read More: Are the 49ers skilled, or just lucky?

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