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+ - The Mathematician Who Loves Hitting People 1

Submitted by writes: Kate Murphy writes at NYT about mathematician John Urschel whose latest contribution to the mathematical realm was a paper for the Journal of Computational Mathematics with the impressively esoteric title, "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians." "Believe me, I am aware that terms such as multigrid, Fiedler, and vector are not words that people use in their daily lives," says Urshel.

But as an offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens, John Urschel regularly goes head to head with the top defensive players in the NFL and does his best to keep quarterback Joe Flacco out of harm's way. "I play because I love the game. I love hitting people," Urshel writes. "There's a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you. This is a feeling I'm (for lack of a better word) addicted to, and I'm hard-pressed to find anywhere else."

Urschel acknowledges that he has faced questions from NFL officials, journalists, fans and fellow mathematicians about why he runs the risk of potential brain injury from playing football when he has "a bright career ahead of me in mathematics" but doesn't feel able to quit. "When I go too long without physical contact I'm not a pleasant person to be around. This is why, every offseason, I train in kickboxing and wrestling in addition to my lifting, running and position-specific drill work."

+ - ITT Educational Services charged with fraud over student loan program->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Things are tense in the world of for-profit colleges.

The latest to face problems is ITT Educational Services, which was charged with fraud Tuesday. The Securities & Exchange Commission said the company’s chief executive and chief financial officer misled investors and auditors with “outright misstatements” and “half-truths” about its student loan program.

ITT Educational Services allegedly created a fraudulent scheme to show that it was doing better financially than it really was. Students had been defaulting on their loans in droves, but CEO Kevin Modany and CFO Daniel Fitzpatrick hid the real cost from investors, the SEC said.

More than 51,000 students take online courses or attend the 135 ITT Technical Institute campuses located in 39 states. ITT also runs the Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire.

The charges comes on the heels of financial problems at Corinthian College, which was recently shuttered, affecting about 74,000 students.

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+ - Rats forsake chocolate to save a drowning companion->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit writes: We’ve all heard how rats will abandon a sinking ship. But will the rodents attempt to save their companions in the process? A new study shows that rats will, indeed, rescue their distressed pals from the drink—even when they’re offered chocolate instead. They’re also more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy.
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+ - Artificial intelligence experts are building the world's angriest robot->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based technology company is developing the world’s angriest artificial intelligence machine to help big banks, telcos and insurance companies defuse explosive episodes in customer service.
Once complete, the project will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions that will help companies better understand the behaviours and processes that trigger customer outbursts.
Those who enjoy their Isaac Asimov might be amused (or appalled) that this project carries the name Radiant. In Asimov's work, Prime Radiant predicted how humans might behave in the future.

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+ - Samsung pushes the Internet of Things with open ARTIK platform->

Submitted by Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson writes: Every company worth its salt is keen to get aboard the Internet of Things bandwagon, and Samsung is no different. Today the company announces its ARTIK platform which it hopes will accelerate the development of IoT apps and hardware for both consumers and the enterprise.

This is more than just a platform announcement, however; Samsung has produced three modules with a variety of integrated features ready to power the next generation of connected devices. The modules are backed up with embedded hardware security and can be tailored to a range of tasks.

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Comment: Spotting GCJ cheating would be an interesting find (Score 1) 220

by jasax (#48927769) Attached to: Anonymous No More: Your Coding Style Can Give You Away
Ditto. They also could have researched if submissions in a given (same) GCJ identity have been (or had a high probability of being...) written by two or more different coders...

The submissions' speed of top ranked coders seen in early stages of the GCJ contest always amazed me (compared, of course, with my turtle sluggishness...)


Comment: Re:Far too expensive (Score 1) 205

by jasax (#48179961) Attached to: The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google
In a few time (a couple of years) I think Julia ( will be a contender. At present is not fully mature for industrial application IMHO (some evolution in syntax is expected, and debugging is ongoing).

Julia is a mix of Matlab, C and a typical scripting language (Perl, Python, Ruby....), wraps several numerical libraries (e.g. LAPACK for 'normal' matrices and SuiteSparse for sparse matrices, BLAS functions, PCRE for regular expressions...) and is prepared from its inception for painless running in parallel platforms. Its loaded with a ton of numerical functions (Bessels, Gammas, etc...) A good JIT compiler makes it run many numerical benchmarks almost as fast as compiled C or Fortran (see examples in the front page of, and also allows for many of the functions in Julia's standard library to be written in Julia instead of in C.

Julia is a Swiss knife for (numerical and scientific) programming in the making. It is open source and free and at present already runs in most platforms.

Comment: Re:more direct connection to producers (Score 1) 191

by jasax (#47956833) Attached to: Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US
Alibaba has a front end to the final consumer called aliexpress, very similar to ebay. I've already used it 3 or 4 times, and everything went well (expected items and of good quality, good communication, etc...) I was buying sports stuff from Chinese brands, so the risk of getting fakes was low (although there are Chinese fakes of Chinese brands, such as Li Ning sport clothes). Aliexpress even has a scheme of client protection and refunding such as ebay's, which I've never used (I never used ebay's protection service either). And aliexpress is near 100% Chinese sellers and goods, so in the end it is a big Chinese shop.

Regarding prices, most sellers in aliexpress targeting western clients have their prices very similar to ebay, despite here and there you see some savings in the same item - but don't expect more than 20 or 30% except in very rare cases. Indeed I suspect that most ebay's Chinese sellers have also a shop in aliexpress where the goods have prices similar to ebay's.

+ - Pablo Escobar's hippos: A growing problem->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: A wild herd of hippopotamuses that once belonged to a Colombian drug lord are now spreading across the countryside and no one knows what to do with them.

Situated halfway between the city of Medellin and Bogota, the Colombian capital, Hacienda Napoles was the vast ranch owned by the drugs baron Pablo Escobar. In the early 1980s, after Escobar had become rich but before he had started the campaign of assassinations and bombings that was to almost tear Colombia apart, he built himself a zoo.

He smuggled in elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals, among them four hippos – three females and one male. And with a typically grand gesture, he allowed the public to wander freely around the zoo. Buses filled with schoolchildren passed under a replica of the propeller plane that carried Escobar’s first US-bound shipments of cocaine. While Don Pablo masterminded the operations of the Medellin Cartel from his villa on the hill, the locals gazed at the strange animals and even stranger concrete dinosaurs that Escobar built for his son.

When Hacienda Napoles was confiscated in the early 1990s, Escobar’s menagerie was dispersed to zoos around the country. But not the hippos. For about two decades, they have wallowed in their soupy lake, watching the 20sq km (8 sq mile) park around them become neglected and overgrown – and then transformed back into a zoo and theme park, complete with water slides. All the while, the hippos themselves thrived, and multiplied.

The hippos also escaped from the zoo, and because the environmental conditions in Colombia are ideal for these invasive hippos, they are prospering wherever they go.
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+ - How often do economists commit misconduct?->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: A survey of professional academic economists finds that a large percentage are quite willing to cheat or fake data to get the results they want.

From the paper’s abstract:

This study reports the results of a survey of professional, mostly academic economists about their research norms and scientific misbehavior. Behavior such as data fabrication or plagiarism are (almost) unanimously rejected and admitted by less than 4% of participants. Research practices that are often considered “questionable,” e.g., strategic behavior while analyzing results or in the publication process, are rejected by at least 60%. Despite their low justifiability, these behaviors are widespread. Ninety-four percent report having engaged in at least one unaccepted research practice.

That less than 4% engage in “data fabrication or plagiarism” might seem low, but it is a terrible statistic. Worse, the other results make me think that the many of the 96% who said they didn’t do this were lying. 40% admit to doing what they agree are “questionable” research practices, while 94% admit to committing “at least one unaccepted research practice.”

In other words, almost none of these academic economists can be trusted in the slightest. As the paper notes, “these behaviors are widespread.”

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Comment: Re:Is there a 'less nerdy version'? (Score 1) 347

by jasax (#47310959) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light
Unless between us and the supernova is some "dark matter" :-) (or something alike) that caused the photons to have the extra delay :-)

Indeed nobody has examined yet, IMHO, the path between us and the SN1987a supernova. Or even its "surroundings" when it was forming: did space time deformation or any other mysterious event occurred?

And if in general science often new knowledge erases old "facts", in Astronomy and Astrophysics that happens almost every day. So we have to take all this novelty with a grain of salt... (remember the recent flop of the particles travelling between CERN-Geneva and Grand Sasso...)

+ - What is Auroracoin? Cryptocurrency Passes Litecoin With $1 Billion Valuation->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Often referred to as the silver to bitcoin's gold, litecoin has lost its third-place spot in the cryptocurrency marketshare league table to auroracoin.

Experiencing triple-digit growth over the last two days, Iceland-based auroracoin is as much a political statement as it is a bitcoin alternative.

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+ - Physicists Check Their Privilege With An Antimatter Beam

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Jon Butterworth has an interesting article at The Guardian about the idea of standpoint-independence in physics and the absence of “privileged observers.” The ASACUSA experiment at CERN plans to make a beam of antimatter, and measure the energy levels as the beam travels in a vacuum, away from the magnetic fields and away from any annihilating matter. The purpose of the experiment is to test CPT (Charge/Parity/Time) inversion to determine if the universe would look the same if we simultaneously swapped all matter for antimatter, left for right, and backwards in time for forwards in time. In string theory for example it is possible to violate this principle so the ASACUSA people plan to measure those antihydrogen energy levels very precisely. Any difference would mean a violation of CPT inversion symmetry. Physicist Ofer Lahav has some interesting observations in the article about how difficult it is these days for physicists to develop independent points of view on cosmology. "Having been surrounded by a culture in which communication is seen as generally a good thing, this came as a surprise to me, but it is a very good point," writes Butterworth. "We gain confidence in the correctness of ideas if they are arrived at independently from different points of view." A good example is the independent, almost simultaneous development of quantum electrodynamics by Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. They all three had very different approaches, and Tomonaga in particular was working in wartime Japan, completely cut off from the others. Yet Freeman Dyson was able to prove that the theories each had provided for the quantum behavior of electrons and photons were not only all equally good at describing nature, but were all mathematically equivalent — that is, the same physics, seen from different points of view. Whether we are using thought experiments, antimatter beams, sophisticated instrumentation, or sending spaceships to the outer solar system, Butterworth says the ability for scientists to loosen the constraints of our own point of view is hugely important. "It is also, I think, closely related to the ability to put ourselves into the place of other people in society and to perceive ourselves as seen by them — to check our privilege, if you like. Imperfect and difficult, but a leap away from a childish self-centeredness and into adulthood."

The difficult we do today; the impossible takes a little longer.