Friday, October 09, 2015

Two recent 'results' in mathematics

An old mathematics problem gets completely solved by Terence Tao with little help from friends At least the problem is easy to follow though not the solution.
A more esoteric development in number theory On abc conjecture But the Nature article does not mention "When an error in one of the articles was pointed out by Vesselin Dimitrov and Akshay Venkatesh in October 2012, Mochizuki posted a comment on his website acknowledging the mistake, stating that it would not affect the result, and promising a corrected version in the near future.[14] He revised all of his papers on "inter-universal Teichm├╝ller theory", the latest of which is dated September 2015." from the Wikipedia article.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Katha-2014 in Tenali

Hundreds of new species found in Eastern Himalayas

A report from Al Jazeera "A new report on wildlife in the Eastern Himalayas says researchers in the area have discovered more than 200 new species, including "walking" fish and a "sneezing monkey" in the last six years.
The findings, made in Nepal, Bhutan, the far north of Myanmar, southern Tibet and northeastern India, were published by the World Wildlife Fund."
WWF report:"The Eastern Himalayas includes four of the Global 200 ecoregions, critical landscapes of international biological importance, and is home to more than 10,000 plant species, 300 mammal species, 977 bird species, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians and 269 freshwater fish. The region also has the highest density of the Bengal tiger and is the last bastion for the charismatic greater one-horned rhino. The rugged and largely inaccessible landscape of the Eastern Himalayas, however, hides the real extent of the region’s biodiversity, with extraordinary new species continuing to be discovered year-on-year. Between 2009 and 2014, at least 211 new species have been discovered in the Eastern Himalayas, 34 new species finds on average every year for the last six years (see Appendix). The discoveries include 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal."

Two on meat

A few good officers

"And, it is through the third seat of power that three young women IAS officers of the 2008 batch are redefining the system in Madhya Pradesh. Posted in extreme border districts, the trio, in their early thirties, have become legends of sorts among the masses for their strict administration and hard work. Chhavi Bharadwaj, Shilpa Gupta and Irene Cynthia Joseph have been successfully holding the fort as district magistrates, locally known as collectors, of Dindori, Morena and Burhanpur, respectively, for more than a year now. While Dindori in the far east corner of the state has a Naxal presence, Chambal dacoits had once made Morena in the north their home and southern Burhanpur has a history of communal violence." from Works like a charm (via Madhukar Shukla)

Taleb on the domonance of the minority

The most stubborn wins:The dominance of the minority Interesting readin via Akshay Regulaedda. It seems to be a draft chapter from a new book that Nassim Nicholas Talib is writin and circulating the draft chapters.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Rounding error

says Tyler Cowen "To put that number in context, the World Health Organization estimates that about seven million people die each year worldwide from air pollution. Even within the United States, early deaths from air pollutionhave been estimated to run about 200,000 a year, in comparison to which the losses from the Volkswagen scandal are a rounding error."

2015 Nobel prize in medicine
Traditioal medicine has a role in one of the prizes:
"Malaria was traditionally treated by chloroquine or quinine, but with declining success. By the late 1960s, efforts to eradicate Malaria had failed and the disease was on the rise. At that time, Youyou Tu in China turned to traditional herbal medicine to tackle the challenge of developing novel Malaria therapies. From a large-scale screen of herbal remedies in Malaria-infected animals, an extract from the plant Artemisia annua emerged as an interesting candidate. However, the results were inconsistent, so Tu revisited the ancient literature and discovered clues that guided her in her quest to successfully extract the active component from Artemisia annua. Tu was the first to show that this component, later called Artemisinin, was highly effective against the Malaria parasite, both in infected animals and in humans (Figure 4). Artemisinin represents a new class of antimalarial agents that rapidly kill the Malaria parasites at an early stage of their development, which explains its unprecedented potency in the treatment of severe Malaria."
P.S. A turning point for traditional Chinese medicine?

Monday, October 05, 2015

A short course on superforecasting

by Philip Tetlock. Around eight and half hours. I have not even started but may watch some of it. From The Edge : "Steven Pinker, who has written about Tetlock's work on Superforecasting, noted that "Tetlock is one of the very, very best minds in the social sciences today. He has come up with one brilliant idea after another, and superforecasting is no exception. Everyone agrees that the way to know if an idea is right  is to see whether it accurately predicts the future. But which ideas, which methods, which people have an actual, provable track record of non-obvious predictions vindicated by the course of events? The answers will surprise you, and have radical implications for politics, policy, journalism, education, and even epistemology—how we can best gain knowledge about the world we live in."
Among Tetlock's "students" at the Edge weekend were many intellectual heavyweights including political scientist and National Medal of Science winnerRobert Axelrod; psychologist, Nobel Laureate, and recipient of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Daniel Kahneman; the political scientist and Director of Stanford’s CASBS Margaret Levi; Google Senior Vice President Salar Kamangar; psychologist and National Medal of Science winner Anne Treisman; Roboticist Rodney Brooks, former head of MIT's Computer Science Lab; W. Daniel Hillis, pioneer in massively parallel computation; medical inventor Dean Kamen; and Peter LeeCorporate Vice President, Microsoft Research, overseeing MSR NExT. "

Tyler Cowen conversation with Dani Rodrik

The transcript Tyler Cowen description of the conversation Rodrik's preparation for the interview
There are bita about India in the interview (Dani Rodrik studied with Avinash Dixit at princeton and colloborated with Arvind Subramanian). Wide rangin discussion about theory and covering several countries. Difficult to summarize. Starts with :
"We’re going to start this conversation with some questions about some of your recent papers on this topic of premature deindustrialization. I find this one of the most interesting themes in your work. The notion that a mix of automation and competitive trade with wealthier nations might mean that poorer nations today will not be able to industrialize and follow the path of South Korea or Taiwan or Singapore."`

In answer to “If you could make one change to help produce more Dani Rodriks for all the rest of us, what would that be?”
RODRIK: I wish I had a very quick and good answer to this but it’s not a great answer but it probably would help. I was helped a lot by going into economics after having done political science. I think a lot of what’s wrong in economics is that it’s so much driven by people who first do engineering or math before they go into economics. And so, it’s relatively late that they get immersed into the real world.
I think anything that would get them a little bit more cognizant of the problems of the real world. I would say that there are parts of political science that have become even worse than economics right now. I’m not sure that that would work.
I don’t know. Maybe a gap year, spending a year in a developing country between your first and second year?
P.S. Link to an earlier interview.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Some good news from Bisada

Hindu neighbours helped Muslim family in Bisada escape mob:
"As the mob approached the homes of the Muslims on Monday night, three Hindu men – Vineet Kumar, Umesh Kumar and Ashok – planned a dramatic escape for the joint family.
Ashok helped women, children and the elderly cross a knee-deep pond at 2 am to reach a nearby road, while Vineet and Umesh drove their utility vehicle to the road through a narrow alley that is not used by the villagers.
“They escaped secretively from the village. Since there were almost 70 family members, we had to make three rounds from the village to Dadri. It took us more than two hours to ensure that all of them reached safely,” said Vineet, a 35-year-old farmer who is studying law......
Their Hindu neighbours are the only hope for them. The marriage of a Muslim girl, Nafeesa, is scheduled for October 11.
“The pandal is set up in the temple. They (the Muslims) were afraid about whether her marriage could be conducted peacefully. I have assured them and taken responsibility for the marriage of Nafeesa, who is like a sister to me,” said Vineet."

Saturday, October 03, 2015


More on TPP

Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh at Project Syndicate The Trans-Pacific Free -Trade Charade
"The biggest regional trade and investment agreement in history is not what it seems.
You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for “free trade.” The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies. Make no mistake: It is evident from the main outstanding issues, over which negotiators are still haggling, that the TPP is not about “free” trade............
The TPP would manage trade in pharmaceuticals through a variety of seemingly arcane rule changes on issues such as “patent linkage,” “data exclusivity,” and “biologics.” The upshot is that pharmaceutical companies would effectively be allowed to extend – sometimes almost indefinitely – their monopolies on patented medicines, keep cheaper generics off the market, and block “biosimilar” competitors from introducing new medicines for years. That is how the TPP will manage trade for the pharmaceutical industry if the US gets its way.
Similarly, consider how the US hopes to use the TPP to manage trade for the tobacco industry."

Why are statues of Indian icon Ambedkar being caged?

Ambedkar in cage
Responding to a previous post which was also posted on Facebook Ramarao Kanneganti asked "The more we learn about the atrocities that went on in the name of caste, the more the mind boggles. Perhaps, life was cheap then. How much comparable was it to the other massacres, the other atrocities of kings against the subjects is something I want to understand. I do not know what the legal system was and how strict it was etc. I feel out of depth in most of these matters." I keep posting these because it is not all past, it is present.

Granddaughters in our frontyard, Spring 2015

India's Independence:World War 2, Some sources from the British Library

I do not know why these particular ones  are selected. the preamble:
"The Second World War had a profound influence on the British policy towards India. Britain needed India's manpower to fight the war and, to secure Indian support, was willing to offer to hand over its political power after it won the war. In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps on his first mission to India made on behalf of the British Government his offer of independence after the war in exchange for cooperation, but the Indian political parties rejected his proposals. The Indian National Congress launched the "Quit India" movement. The Indian National Army led by Subhas Chandra Bose joined the Japanese to fight against the British."
Source 5:
Secret report from the War Staff Office of the India Office 14 July 1943,'Recent activities of Subhas Chandra Bose' [L/WS/1/1576:ff. 79-80]
Source 5b:
Biographical note on Subhas Chandra Bose (1943) [L/WS/1/1576: ff. 79-80]
Source 7:
Indian National Army court martial (1945) (MSS EUR D977/14)
Source 11:
Attlee's reply to Bevin (1947) (R/30/1/8a)

Some excerpts.
 From FDR To Harry Hopkins, Source 3: "Kindly give the following message immediately to the Former Naval Person (implying Churchill): every effort must be made by us to prevent a break-down.....The feeling is held almost universally that the deadlock had been due to the British Government's unwillingness to concede the right of self-government to the Indians notwithstanding the willingness of the Indians to entrust to the competent British authorities technical military and naval defence control."
From Lord Wavell, Source 9 "2. The principal advantage that Britain and the Commonwealth derive from control of India is Strategic. The greatest asset is India's manpower. The War of 1939-45 could hardly have been won without India's contribution of two million soldiers, which strengthened the British Empire at its weakest point."
From Attlee to Bevin, Source 11 "We have always governed India through the Indians. Without the tens of thousands of lesser functionaries we could not carry on. In a typical district of one or two million population it is quite common for there to be only one or two white officials. Under the regime of constitutional governments, which have now been in existence with some intervals for a number of years, the loyalty of Indian officials is increasingly directed towards the Indian Governments and not to the British Raj. With the knowledge that the termination of British rule in India is not far off, how can you expect them not to look to the future?
It would be quite impossible even if you could find the men for a few hundred British to administer against the active opposition of the whole of the politically minded of the population. I presume when you suggest getting administrators from the Indian Army you mean the British units in India. How could Army officers with only a slight knowledge of the language and no knowledge of administration deal with such a matter as the collection of land revenue, the backbone of Indian Finance, if they had not even got Indian clerical assistance? If you proposed to govern by main force, you would be driven into shootings and the like for which you would find very little support in this country."

Friday, October 02, 2015

Expert predictions

From Expert predictions: hard and soft by Steven Hsu:
"...good amateurs (i.e., smart people who think probabilistically and are well read) typically perform as well as or better than area experts (e.g., PhDs in Social Science, History, Government; MBAs) when it comes to predicting real world outcomes. The marginal returns (in predictive power) to special "expertise" in soft subjects are small.....
In technical subjects, such as chemistry or physics or mathematics, experts vastly outperform lay people even on questions related to everyday natural phenomena (let alone specialized topics). "

Some thing to cheer about

Some English lines

Even though English is a foreign language, some of it seems to have ot in to my system. Today children were going to the shopping centre asked me what i wanted. I said a 'mandrake root' from one of my favourite misogynist poems
 Song: Go and catch a falling star
On the otherhand I do not understand the antipathy to Wordsworth lines in The Thorn; after all not all lines in a poem can be great:
The much-ridiculed lines of 1798 about the child’s grave–
“I’ve measured it from side to side,
’T is three feet long and two feet wide"–
became in 1820:
“Though but of compass small and bare
To thirsty suns and parching air.”