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The power of a million monkeys

When a million monkeys play Go, they win.

Enter the Monte Carlo method, named by its Manhattan Project pioneers for the casinos where they gambled. It consists of random simulations repeated again and again until patterns and probabilities emerge: the characteristics of an atomic bomb explosion, phase states in quantum fields, the outcome of a Go game. Programs like MoGO and Many Faces simulate random games from start to finish, over and over and over again, with no concern for figuring out which of any given move is best.
--Humans No Match for Go Bot Overlords [wired.com]

Investing without paying attention

I have continued to invest in various equities in the midst of the current economic turmoil. My core investment philosophy has being unchanged (spend less than I earn, and invest the rest).

I bought my first investment-linked policy (ILP) in 2001. Yes, you can only learn from experience, and I have learnt not to buy ILPs anymore. I believe life and medical insurance should be separated. I have sequentially purchased appropriate medical insurance for the future.

With multi-year lows being reached on a regular basis, securities valuations seem very favorable to individual investors. If you invest in the stock market right now, you will walk out with great returns in 5 to 10 years. I make the maximum contributions to 401K on index funds (40% international, 50% US, 10% Bonds), invest regularly in Asian mutual funds, and buy individual stocks on the US market. That's my allocation of retirement, investment and speculation.

And in worst case, I have several verbal agreements with friends to bunk in their balcony if things don't work out. :P

Scatterplot of IQ and Financial Worth

I just came across a figure that comes from a paper published in the journal Intelligence - a scatterplot of IQ and financial worth.

Eyeballing the plot, the only plausible relationship might be lower IQ and lower net worth.

I am just surprised that the lowest financial worth is "only" -$20K.

I am a new father, and I miss sleeping

The purpose of this study was to describe the sleep patterns and fatigue of both mothers and fathers before and after childbirth. The authors used wrist actigraphy and questionnaires to estimate sleep and fatigue in 72 couples during their last month of pregnancy and 1st month postpartum. Both parents experienced more sleep disruption at night during the postpartum period as compared to the last month of pregnancy. Compared to fathers, with their stable 24-h sleep patterns over time, mothers had less sleep at night and more sleep during the day after the baby was born. Sleep patterns were also related to parents’work status and type of infant feeding. Both parents self-reported more sleep disturbance and fatigue during the 1st month postpartum than during pregnancy. Mothers reported more sleep disturbance than fathers, but there was no gender difference in ratings of fatigue. At both time points, fathers obtained less total sleep than mothers when sleep was objectively measured throughout the entire 24-h day. Further research is needed to determine the duration of sleep loss for both mothers and fathers, to evaluate the effect of disrupted sleep and sleep loss on psychosocial functioning and job performance, and to develop interventions for improving sleep patterns of new parents.
Sleep Patterns and Fatigue in New Mothers and Fathers

My philosophy of running

I have this strange relationship with my running partner, Ben. As we do our morning runs (8 miles), I incessantly complain about how tiring the pace is (well, it is to me), argue about how many hills we are doing (it's becoming a monotonically increasing number), and question why we are even running (actually I do want to run).

Ben just laughs and reminds me that I am constantly the one who is suggesting that we do this or that. Like how right after we did a 10km competition, at the finishing line as I am panting and cussing, I add, "So we do a half marathon next?".

Photographer

:: Schmap San Francisco Fifth Edition: Photo Inclusion

Hi Yew Jin,

I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo
has been selected for inclusion in the newly released fifth
edition of our Schmap San Francisco Guide:

Lombard Street
http://www.schmap.com/sanfrancisco/sights_nobhill/p=29401/i=29401_24.jpg

If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link
will take you directly to your photo in the iPhone version
of our guide. On a desktop computer, you can still see
exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the
iPhone version of our guide at:

Lombard Street
http://www.schmap.com/?m=iphone#uid=sanfrancisco&sid=sights_nobhill&p=29401&i=29401_24

Finally, if you have a blog, you might also like to check
out the customizable widgetized version of our Schmap San
Francisco Guide, complete with your published photo:

http://www.schmap.com/guidewidgets/p=74671132N00/c=SH2001770

Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please
enjoy the guide!

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides

Hey look - I got a photo taken by me in a guide book! Check that off my to-do list!

Yin and Yang

As seen in Straits Times Forum, surely you jest Ms Wee?

THE population dearth is indeed a desperate situation which requires desperate measures. Are Singaporeans prepared to face the desperate truth, which is that the Singapore identity and culture that we were debating not long ago is fast becoming extinct? In recent years, Singapore has had to 'fake' its population by opening the floodgates to foreigners.

I agree with Mr Thomas Ling ('Tackle the problem not the symptoms', Aug 20) that upping financial incentives and maternity, paternity or childcare leave is barking up the wrong tree. This illustrates the adage that money cannot buy everything. Much reflection is needed on attitudes to life, career and relationships.

For one thing, young women today are almost totally lacking in fu dao (the way of women), a Confucian ethic. According to Confucius, 'a woman should serve her family first and herself last'. Young women today are too arrogant, too loud and don't even know how to sit properly. It makes one wonder about their parents and shudder at the thought of them becoming mothers.

Give the men a break. Changing nappies is a woman's job. Men are made for greater things than this. You wouldn't ask a woman to carry a tonne of bricks, would you? Girls have to be taught their domestic duties and women have to be more hardworking at home. Girls should not grow up thinking the home is not their responsibility.

It is best for women to sacrifice a few years of their working life to nurture their families. Men, too, should be made more accountable on their role as breadwinners. This will create a win-win situation for all parties, including employers and children.

Our neighbourhoods are cold these days because of the absence of chatting mothers and mingling children.

In Chinese philosophy, women are yin and men are yang. They are complementary but not equal. When their energies are not balanced, there is disharmony.

A country that was built on Confucian ethics should perhaps rebuild on Confucian ethics. Unfortunately, this will not create the instant results we need. However, whatever is worth having will not come easily.

Jennifer Wee (Ms)

Seriously brain-dead way to round off numbers in Python

import decimal
def Round(value, precision = 3):
return float(str(
decimal.Decimal(str(value)).quantize(decimal.Decimal("1")
/ (decimal.Decimal('1' + '0' * precision)), decimal.ROUND_HALF_UP)))

Computer Go Advances

A professional 8-dan player has been defeated by MoGo, a computer Go program that uses Monte Carlo tree search algorithms, in a 9-stone handicap game on a 19x19 board. [usgo.org] [slashdot.org]

This represents a major milestone in computer Go, and is also, evidence that the Monte Carlo tree search algorithm is a viable search technique that works in high branching factor domains. In my honest opinion, the budding graduate student in computer games research can easily find applications of this technique in emerging problems which are unsolvable by traditional techniques.

Think RTS, think war games, think huge risk mitigation situations like epidemic simulations. sigh I had a research proposal rejected a year ago based on this concept, and, as a result, made me switch from academic research to industry.

Lots of papers, few implementations

Why aren't there more open source text summarization projects?

There seems to be a ton of papers on text summarization. I would like to get my hands on something decent to experiment with. And don't tell me Mac OS X Summarize service or Microsoft Word. :)

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