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Comment Bridge players use insertion sort (Score 1) 195

This is something that duplicate bridge players do about 25 times a session . We use insertion sort. When a player picks up a hand, it is typically shuffled, but players prefer to have cards separated by suits and descending order within each suit. Most people pick up their 13 cards and then move individual cards around using insertion sort. It is quite intuitive and relatively quick. However, insertion sort has a few other bridge-specific advantages: often players can evaluate their hand even as they are sorting it by first moving the high cards in place. Also, it is not necessary to completely sort the hand -- spot cards can be in any order and you will often find players sorting the spot cards before they put down as dummy. I suppose the complete answer would be that humans use insertion sort to result in a partially sorted hand. As an aside, all-time great bridge player Bob Hamman does not sort his hand. Just as moderately skilled bridge players do not sort the "spot cards" because they can figure those out on the fly, Bob Hamman can visualize and remember the entire hand without needing to sort it.

Apache Resigns From the JCP Executive Committee 136

iammichael writes "The Apache Software Foundation has resigned its seat on the Java SE/EE Executive Committee due to a long dispute over the licensing restrictions placed on the TCK (test kit validating third-party Java implementations are compatible with the specification)."

Submission + - Google Picasa spam-mails Gmail contacts (

lakshmanok writes: If you have a Picasa web album, then Google now automatically subscribes you to web album updates from any one in your Gmail contacts list. So, if you've ever mailed someone professionally from Gmail, they will get *notified* about every new photo you upload to even an unlisted web album. To make matters worse, there is no way that the uploader of photos can turn off sending these emails. Only the receiver can ask to not be notified.

Bill To Ban All Salt In Restaurant Cooking 794

lord_rotorooter writes "Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, introduced a bill that would ruin restaurant food and baked goods as we know them. The measure (if passed) would ban the use of all forms of salt in the preparation and cooking of food for all restaurants or bakeries. While the use of too much salt can contribute to health problems, the complete banning of salt would have negative impacts on food chemistry. Not only does salt enhance flavor, it controls bacteria, slows yeast activity and strengthens dough by tightening gluten. Salt also inhibits the growth of microbes that spoil cheese."

Submission + - Parallel search with economic incentives (

lakshmanok writes: DARPA ran a contest recently. They placed ten red weather balloons at secret locations all over the United States. The first person to correctly identify the locations of all 10 balloons would win the prize.

The winners (a bunch of postdocs from MIT's Media Lab) organized it as a pyramid scheme (the concept is useful beyond Madoff and Amway!). The person who reported a balloon to a central website would get $2000; the person who invited him to participate would get $1000, and the person who invited that person would, in turn, get $500, and so on. So, there was an incentive, not just to find the balloons, but to canvass your social network for people who were spread out, and into this sort of thing.

This takes advantage of two concepts: hierarchical, parallelized search (each person looking in their neighborhood independently, sort of like a genetic algorithm) and a smart economic design of incentives (to increase the number of agents conducting the search).

Ultimately, it took just 9 hours to locate all ten balloons.

Comment Re:Great, Just Great (Score 1) 101

Mod parent up. If 3 people just keep citing each other circularly (avoiding self-citations), the whole ranking collapses because all their papers will be artificially inflated. Accounting for this is quite hard because it will involve distinguishing between natural clusters (of top researchers working on a common topic) or citation gamers (aiming to boost their citation counts). Also, note in the TFA a graph with a parameter "d". That is basically slop. The authors simply changed the d until they could get a match for Nobel winners. Once you know what the answer ought to be, it's easy enough to manipulate a parameter like this.

Comment Serious differences in world view (Score 5, Insightful) 829

There are serious differences in the world-view between the two candidates.

Two examples:

(1) Obama wants to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by broadening its scope beyond just science and engineering majors:

All American citizens need high quality STEM education that inspires them to know more about the world around them, engages them in exploring challenging questions, and involves them in high quality intellectual work. STEM education is no longer only for those pursuing STEM careers; it should enable all citizens to solve problems, collaborate, weigh evidence, and communicate ideas.

whereas McCain sees science as being for geeks only. He wants more geeks, so the rest of the country don't have to bother their pretty heads while getting law and business degrees:

The diminishing number of science, technology, engineering and math graduates at the college level poses a fundamental and immediate threat to American competitiveness. We must fill the pipeline to our colleges and universities with students prepared for the rigors of advanced engineering, math, science and technology degrees.

(2) Obama sees technology leadership as being essential to national security:

It's essential to create a coherent new defense technology strategy to meet the kinds of threats we may faceâ"asymmetric conflicts, urban operations, peacekeeping missions, and cyber, bio, and proliferation threats, as well as new kinds of symmetric threats.

whereas McCain sees national security as essentially just military superiority:

As President, I will strengthen the military, shore up our alliances, and ensure that the nation is capable of protecting the homeland, deterring potential military challenges, responding to any crisis that endangers American security, and prevailing in any conflict we are forced to fight.

For more contrasts, see my blog post

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