Posts filed under “Mathematics”

A Modest Proposal


Now for something completely different.

That we have become a numbers (and statistics) obsessed society is beyond debate. I’m not sure when it started (Cosmo mag, maybe?), but it’s gotten out of hand. Websites everywhere tell me the X number of things I need to know about Y. Sports, particularly baseball, have gone totally over the top: “Well, Bob, Smith is pretty good in this situation: Over the course of his ten year career, when batting at home, in the bottom of the third, with runners on first and third, one out, with a 1-2 count, on a Wednesday evening in the month of July, between 8:15 PM and 8:30 PM, with the temperature between 70 and 72, he’s…1-for-1.” Much of this, of course, owes to technology and advances in computing power over the years. We seem to compile some statistics for no other reason than we can. As a numbers guy myself, I guess I don’t mind too much and would like to add my own idea to the mix.


I’ve always been a big fan of Scrabble, and a daily game or two against the computer on the iPad is now part of my daily routine. Scrabble’s a game, to the best of my knowledge, to which a meaningful new stat hasn’t been added in approximately forever. So, herewith my modest proposal:

Points per Points Played (PPP), the formula for which would be, as indicated, Points Scored (what did you score?)/Points Played (sum total of tile points you played to score it). I consider this a good measure of a player’s efficiency with his/her tiles. We know that the sum of all tiles is 187 face value. Those points are played with varying degrees of success from game to game to produce whatever outcome. A simple 1-point letter “S,” placed on a Triple Word Score box, could easily generate 30 or more points – a huge ROI for a 1-point tile. That same “S,” appended to the letter “A,” would produce only 2 points, a vastly inferior outcome. Someone who, during the course of a game, played 95 points of tiles and scored 400 points would have a PPP of 4.21. His opponent, who played the remaining 92 points and scored 410 points, was slightly more efficient (in winning while playing fewer points), scoring 4.46. PPP could also be a career statistic, allowing players to capture a reasonable measure of proficiency over time, as I’d expect better players to have a higher PPP. This measure, which could of course be calculated manually, would be a snap to incorporate into the iPad app. While there obviously other measures of proficiency, such as, say, points per turn (also valuable), PPP rewards you for efficiency and not just for playing high point value tiles such as Q, Z, J, or X.

And, yes, of course I understand that I have not accounted for the two blank tiles.

So, there you have it. Thoughts?

Category: Data Analysis, Mathematics

Terry Jeffrey, Hack Extraordinaire (Fun with Numbers Again)

@TBPInvictus here. In yet another stunning display of journalistic malpractice, Terry Jeffrey put out the following piece after last Friday’s NFP release:     Because it suited his (political) purpose, Jeffrey jumped on the Household Survey; looking at the Establishment Survey would not have provided such a dramatic headline. Indeed, it would have provided, for…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Financial Press, Really, really bad calls

Media Hall of Shame: Black Friday Reporting

I am writing up my BBRG coverage of the innumerate business reporting of Black Friday and the holiday shopping weekend. The press as per usual got it wrong again this year. Here is the press release from the  NRF, pushing their usual survey silliness as if it were actual retail sales data: “More than 141…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Consumer Spending, Data Analysis, Financial Press, Really, really bad calls

Enjoy Black Friday But Ignore NRF Surveys

Thanksgiving is but a few days away. We celebrate by the giving of thanks for whatever bounty has come your way. It is a warm and wonderful holiday full of family and tryptophan and good cheer. Black Friday, the day after turkey day, is the official kick off of the season I like to call…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Consumer Spending, Really, really bad calls

Benoît Mandelbrot, Father of Fractals

IBM and celebrate the life of Benoit B. Mandelbrot, IBM Fellow Emeritus and Fractal Pioneer. In this final interview shot by filmmaker Erol Morris, Mandelbrot shares his love for mathematics and how it led him to his wondrous discovery of fractals. His work lives on today in many innovations in science, design, telecommunications, medicine, renewable energy, film (special effects), gaming (computer graphics) and more.

Category: Mathematics, Quantitative, Video

The Beauty of Mathematics

“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music.” —Bertrand Russell   BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS from PARACHUTES.TV on Vimeo.

Category: Mathematics, Weekend

About Our “Spending Problem” (Revisited)

@TBPInvictus here It’s a well established fact that the Obama administration has been spending like a drunken sailor since the day he was inaugurated. I first wrote about his spendthrift ways here, toward the end of 2010 (has it already been three years?). Some time has now passed, so how’s it going? Let’s take another…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Really, really bad calls

What Do Hedge Funds Spend On Regulatory Compliance?

Every now and then, I read an article that is factually accurate, technically correct — and utterly misleading. Items like this are “accurate but false” as they leave the reader with an impression of something that is incorrect. Because the world is nuanced and not black and white, the sum of many facts, statistics and…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Hedge Funds, Regulation

Tax Rates, Inequality, and US Deficits

Its Friday, after what was for me a long and annoying 17 days. But the shutdown is over, US markets are at all time highs, and Bob Shiller got his Nobel (more on this tomorrow). You might think that I would be at peace with the current state of the world, but life is never…Read More

Category: Economy, Mathematics, Philosophy, Taxes and Policy

The Truth About the Deficit

Yesterday, I was on Pete Dominick’s Sirius XM Satellite radio show (audio below). A caller asked about how to close the deficit. His comments revealed that his concern about the deficit was merely a ruse, a tool to be used to achieve very different goals. If you are truly concerned about deficit, then what you…Read More

Category: Mathematics, Politics, Really, really bad calls