Thursday, March 19, 2015

Political thoughts.

For a moment, let's say that a manager is not more important than a janitor. We'll take this road, because people like the idea of freedom. Freedom does not mean that an entire world is closed off to you because you have no money, so in order to get things you need to be an idea man. You need to be a manager. For a moment, and for the sake of discussion, lets think that "the slacker" is not an unmotivated, unintelligent bum, but instead they do find joy in certain task that others find undesirable. And why not? The world would fall apart without a janitor or a garbage man because if you got rid of those jobs people would be forced to clean up after themselves. Progress would come to a grinding halt because CEO's, the men with the plans, would have devote time and brain space to small unimportant tasks, and therefore have no time to come up with ways to make the world a better place to live.

Reward on education and skills is a utopian dream. Here me out though: A business doesn't run in layers. One department doesn't work harder than another department, it just works differently. You can remove unproductive and lazy people, or people who aren't a good fit, or any other excuse you can find for removing an individual. Remove a group, a department, a community, and the business will fall apart.

Engineers are awesome,and I will sing our praises until the end of time. Data analysts are gods among men. With no sales knowledge, or a sales staff, then we are just hobbyists. Sales without a product is a crazy man with a cardboard sign. Without leadership or direction, these guys wander and flounder and create novilities and toys. But without a good work force, "Leadership" is that asshole at family get-togethers that bosses you around with any contributions.

Why does an "idea man" get more? I can take classes in management, business, and arts for creativity. I can work my weekends at a market or sell drugs to learn how to hustle like a player. An idea man isn't special, and established companies have shown that a CEO can be fired or traded. Rewarding the hard work it takes to get there in the first place I'm all for. To get to that level of trust and skill takes years of hard work and fuck ups and success. And a CEO of company that makes money globally as opposed to locally, I can see the reasoning in why they would make more. Why should a CEO who's worked his way to the top make more money than a maintenance man who's work as long and has hard.

I say maintenance and not janitor because the modern janitor does more than clean spills. Cleaning the floors and building, repairing machines that break, watching over the maintenance of a fleet, and making sure a building is taken care of can all fall under the duties of the maintenance department. Not all companies handle this in the same way, mind you. Some find that big specialized tasks need to be hired to outside companies. But the head of maintenance is the one who deals and orchestrates with them. Cleaning is a task that different companies deal with differently, so janitor may be a thing doesn't technically exist where you work. It doesn't exist at my job. We have people who clean, but that isn't there only job. They work production, but during slower points in the day, they're job is to help clean. The reason I'm focusing on this concept is because of a webpage on objectivism decided to make an example out of why a CEO is better then a janitor. I can't find this again, sadly, but if I do, I'll link it here.

New man on the job, sure, don't pay him that much because he's fresh face, eager to work, but doesn't know shit about anything. But why is someone who is the head of a department like maintenance paid less then head of management? It's not education, really. The education it takes these days to know anything is extensive. Sure, your college may not be as expensive as the other guys. That's a whole other discussion that I could rant about, but for now let's say that's not the cost of education that's important, but what you do with it. Remember, for discussion we live in a utopia.

Not years of experience, either. For comparison, what's the difference between 2 fifty year old men who both went to school when they where 18, and graduated to find paying jobs. Assume that one is the CEO and one is the head of Maintenance. The way they dress and hobbies are different, values might not be the same, but experience wise they are same in their respective fields.

Accountability is an issue. One of these men reports to the other. One man makes decisions that affects how smoothly and well a company runs, a job that has a huge impact on others jobs. The other wears a nice suit and drives a nice car.

My point isn't to belittle either job. My point is to say "What is the value of a person?" At it's core, capitalism likes to say that it rewards hard-workers, that each man is free. But it still puts a different value on different jobs. This is not my final thoughts on this, it's just the beginning. Something capitalism has given us is ideas on how to share limited rescorces. It's just that it's cheerleaders come off as pretty fucking clueless. If you can't afford a car, and your options are "McDonald's or don't eat out" in walking or biking distance of where you live, then you don't eat at McDonald's because you like the taste. That's a reference to another webpage, which I swear will be linked later tonight. Of course, you can go shopping and eat in. Where I live, the shopping options aren't good. Unless it's a supermarket, stores don't carry a lot of produce because it went bad months ago before it got here. I live in PA, but all the small markets are getting their stock from Hannaford's in Massachusetts. Like, the stuff that couldn't be sold in New England comes down here. My options for a quick meal in is frozen pizza, or really anything with a long shelf life and little nutritional value. When faced with choice like that, the mind begins to think "Sure, freedom exists. To people with money."

Really, though, what makes the internet great is that if you don't agree with me, I'll probably here it. Post any thoughts in the comments below, or tell me opinions @aristotlesmstk at twitter, or it's on Facebook if that's your poison. Me, I'm gonna finish this book on Emma Goldman's essay and go back to stumbling political and mathematical websites.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Math as a tool

While this is still fresh in my mind, I have a little bit to say about this video:

That video is calculus and is about finding the minimum and maximum using the second directive. I don't have much to say about how the function works, mostly because I'm still processing it myself, but mostly what it is used for.

When I took trigonometry years ago, one of the many things that bothered me about mathematics was their examples of "real world" applications of using trig. The problem was something like "There's a guy who sets up tents for the circus, He needs so much rope, and if the pole is this length and the angle needs to that angle, how much rope does he need?" The problem was dumb I thought because you would figure out how much rope you need the first time, add a little extra, then always keep that length of rope. Now, what it was TRYING to do was make math accessible, and showing the student how to translate this "real world" problem into mathematical language to solve. I still maintain it was dumb.

A great example of trig in the real world? Carpentry, or most forms of civil engineering. Triangles are everywhere in construction, and the formons I've met not only know SOHCAHTOA by heart, but they know what it does and how to use it properly.

Anything that has to be done by enough people repetitively needs to be or has been turned into a tool for maximum efficacy. I need second derivatives at my job. There is a device called a Near-Infrared Machine, or NIR, that is awesome because it analyzes the heat waves from the bonds of molecules to determine what kind of molecule it is. It prints out a graph that is the molecular make-up of the material in question. I like to tell people that I've seen molecules, but I like to tell people all sorts of crazy shit. This machine, though, is data analysis. To get anything useful from this machine, you need a ton of points of data and then you need the second derivative.

The second derivative is useful for data analysis, which he briefly mentions for statisticians. Then he talks about his drive to work. It's a great tool for data analysis because have you ever been given a list of numbers and tried to find the minimum and maximum by looking at it, then tried to do a bunch of predictions on it? I have, because sometimes I don't have the right tools, and anyone who tells you I'm smart is a liar. It's horrible, but the thing is, if every time I need a second derivative I did the whole thing out by hand, then I would slowly go insane and I wouldn't have time for anything else and I couldn't store anything else in my brain because I would have to devote part of my brain to just doing the second goddamn derivative. So I have a machine do it for me, or if I want to get fancy, Python or R or Perl can do it faster than I can.

Knowing how it works is cool and important because of zen, really. Simply put, by understanding the makeup of something, what you can do with it is awesome. Failing that, just simply knowing where to use it and when to use it is more important for people. In my Utopian dream world, everyone can work on their own vehicles, make road warrior constructs from crap they find in the junk yard, and know how to make a 20 year old computer work by running the right version of linux. They also know how to program. This world is the least of my eccentricities, I assure you. This is a crazy fantasy land, so I would be happy with people just knowing how to drive a car in a good way and learning how to properly maintain it. Math is as much a tool as a car is, and can be just as dangerous sometimes, so learning how to use the right tools for the right job would be enough for. Please math teachers of the world: I know you're a math nerd that likes to see the patterns in everyday life, but you're car ride to work may not be the demonstration of a principle.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Guess what day it is!?

I wasn't going to post anything about pi day today, because it's expected, and we make a big deal out of weird number milestones, also it's my day of after 2 hectic weekends. Apparently, there is another holiday today that seems to exist to stir controversy. Yes, we men need a day to celebrate what it means to be a man, damn it! For too long, holidays like Valentines, Women's Day, and Mother's Day force us to be civil to women, and they cast a shadow over Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, Jefferson and Washington's birthdays along with President's day, those two holidays that celebrate the life and death of a famous religious man (Christmas and Easter), all the holidays that celebrate man's contribution to history. Also, the other holiday falls between Mardi Gras, which is known for large amounts of alcohol and sluts pretending to have something to do with religion, and St. Patrick's day, an excuse to drink until you black out pretending to be a celebration of Irish culture. As a man, I demand more holidays to make up for the three days in which women are the center of attention!

 Truth is, I don't have a girlfriend to celebrate with, so I might as well celebrate the lame math day for dorks and nerds. I could post a link to my own post about Sophie Germain Primes or maybe a link to Sofia Kovalevskaya's wikipedia page. Kovaleskaya is a bad ass as a woman and a mathematician, since she hung out with some of Russia's greatest philosophers at the time, and figured out a way to get educated, become the first female professor of mathematics in Russia AND Europe, and wrote a book on Nihilism along with her work in differential calculus. But that would be about women, though. Honestly, I feel Russians are largely unappreciated in their contribuitons to science in the last 100 years, so you should read about Vladimir Kovalevsky, Sophia's husband. Honestly, the information on him in English is slim to none and I think the only thing resembling a biography on him was written by Stephen Gould. It's a shame really. He only wrote one book on the evolution of horses, but it inspired further research into the field. Him and his brother were the earliest evolutionary biologists due to the fact that Vladimir had know Darwin personally. He even translated The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication and published it before the official English version. He did commit sucide when he wasted all of his wife's money on a failed business deal, but him and his brother helped Russian biologists. Sadly, the wikipedia article is short due to the fact there is little information in English about him, and most people don't represent the relationship between him and his wife properly. I want to write about the two of them so badly.

Have you ever read I Ching? It has been a pretty influential work in mathematics, including inspiring Gottfried Leibniz and his version of Calculus. Here's a page on the combinatorics of I ching.

Representing Argentina is my man, Jorge Luis Borges. He was a short story writer whose interest in mathematics lead him to writing stories like The Aleph and The Library of Babel. His stuff still seems to be under copywrite, and I am a fine upstanding citizen who would never of think of doing anything like suggesting a Google search for "Jorge Luis Borges works download".

You know who was cool? Srinivasa Ramanujan. He's not talked about much outside of mathematics and science, partly due to having a name that Americans have a hard time saying. But he had no formal education, and he taught himself math by reading then corresponding with the big mathematicians of the time. Indian mathematicians in general are very important, like Brahmagupta who introduced the concept of zero, or any of these other guys.

Women have been doing some good work in math. The Math Counts meetup, the group I help with in Philadelphia, just read a book about Infinity written by Lillian Lieber. It's written in a free form verse style. Of course, there is the famous Marie Curie, who was physicist and chemist which are math heavy sciences. Maybe you should check out Hypatia, a Greek female mathematician.

You know what pi day is about? Math and science, a long standing tradition that has brought together people and thinkers from all sorts of cultures and genders. We need more holidays like that. You know what the other holiday is about? A bunch of asshats who want to be noticed for a day and who think they are being edgy with this type of humor. I hope I gave you some good reading material for the rest of the night.

If you're coming from the A to Z website, welcome! I don't post as much as I should, but maybe if you check me out on facebook and twitter I'll get the inspiration to start maintaining those more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Place filler

Have you ever worked on a problem, and gotten really far on it, only discover that you completely misunderstood the problem when you were almost done? I have to rework a blog post I've been doing for the last two days. No problem, I think I salvage it. What I wanted to mention is that simple games are really complex math wise. Yahtzee is really complex statistics wise. Origami has graph theory, topology, and combinatorics involved. Trying to understand the math of these games is one of the harder things I've attempted.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

An easier math problem for the day

Yesterday was intense, wasn't it? My brain is still a little overloaded, really. We'll take it down a notch with something simpler:
What is the largest integer that can be obtained as the product as the product of positive integers that add up to 100?
This starts out simple: pick any numbers you can think of that add up to 100. 50 + 50 works, right? So what is their product? 50 * 50 = 2500.

What about two different numbers, like 49 and 51? That's 2499. 25 and 75? That's no better, it's 1875. Seems that numbers that are equal will maximize efficiency.

Well, what about 4 equal numbers, like 25 * 25 * 25 *25? Well, we get 390625. That's way better.  So, 5 numbers? 205 =3,200,000. Uh. How far can you keep going along with this pattern until you get the biggest number possible? And is there some sort of algorithm or process to make looking for the answer easier?

Monday, March 2, 2015

1089 is all that and a bag of chips

Take any three-digit number in which the first and last digits are different.  Reverse the digits to get a new number, so now you have two numbers, and each one is the reverse of the other.  Subtract the smaller from the larger to get a third three-digit number.  (If subtracting gives you a two digit number, then please treat it as a three-digit number whose first digit is zero.)  Now add this number to its reverse.  The result will be 1089.
This is the first puzzle featured for this Saturday's Puzzle night at the Institute in Philadelphia. I love you guys though, and I feel I've been neglecting you as I focus more on the writing that I'm doing and this math group. I will give you a head start on working on the problem on yourself, then I'll give a walk through and some notes.

Something like 836 is a good example to try. So 836 - 638 = 198. 198 + 891 = 1098. Maybe you tried something like 655, in which case you get 655 - 556 = 99. As they point out in the puzzle, treat it like a 3 digit number, 099, in which case 099 + 990 = 1089. Lets now reduce this to the alphabet, because every smart ass in the world hates it when math uses letters. Our 3 digit number will simply be ABC. It COULD be AAC, where the first and second letter are the same, or it COULD be ACC where the second and last number are the same BUT never ABA, because the first and last number ARE different. And only old women like ABBA, but that's neither here nor there. Anyways the first rule of this puzzle is:
  • A > C
because the larger number ALWAYS subtracts the smaller number. Cool? Ice Cold.

Set this puzzle up, and you get the form ABC - CBA = DEF. If our first rule is true, then C - A is always going to be subtracting a larger number from a smaller number. Most of us don't even think about carrying the 1 from B anymore. That changes C from a 1 digit number to a 2 digit number. This tells us the algebraic answer though: C - A = (10 + C) - A. Why 10? Because we are using decimal, of course. If we take a 1 from B and add it to the front of C, it's the same as adding 10 to the number. Here's my second rule:
  • E = 9
The carry over rule applies here too. The thing is, this is not something like 7-8. Since it's in the 10's place, it would look something like 70 - 80. Or algebraically: 10(B-1) - 10B. When you carry the one, it becomes ((10B - 10) + 100) - 10B. As long as B is a number less than 9, than E is always 9. Which just leaves D as (A - C - 1). 100(A - C - 1) + 9 + (C + 10 - A). Or 100A -100C + C - A.

Here is next wild part: D + F = 9. D is (A - C - 1) and F is (C + 10 - A), so A and C cancel out and the whole thing becomes 10 -1, or 9. E is 9 and 9 + 9 is 18, so that extra 1 gets added to the front, making the whole thing 1089. Wow. That took me all afternoon, now I am going to bed. For anyone interested, does this formula work for Octal or Hexadecimal? Is there a way to make it work?