Tuesday, 20 October 2009

More Reasons Why We Never Get Anything Done

More secrets of the maths department are revealed on the internet. On the walk down to acquire sandwiches and milkshakes, our heroes break out the Big Maths.

BigHead: After Sunday's abysmal pub quiz performance, I have determined that if we were Bayesian statisticians, we would never engage in a tie-break, and instead always choose to share the winnings.
SpaceSquid: (rather half-heartedly) Explain.
BigHead: We never win the tie-break. Thus our prior probability of winning the tie-break must at this point be less than a half. It follows that sharing the money is a better strategy than gambling for the whole pot by trying to win the tie-break, because the latter has the smaller expected value.
SpaceSquid: That follows if you assume a linear utility for our winnings, but I think that's questionable.
BigHead: For small sums of money, I don't think there's a problem with saying OH MY GOD A HORSEY!
SpaceSquid: Yay! A horsey! Hello, horsey!

Awestruck silence as horse struts past.

BigHead: It's nice that we can adapt so quickly to changing circumstances, isn't it?
SpaceSquid: Let's talk kittens.

Fun fact: the horse was pulling a gypsy-style caravan, which had in its rear window a sticker reading "100% BASTARD". Nice. Also, Blogspot's spell-check refuses to recognise "half-heartedly", "internet" or even "Blogspot's", but "horsey" is apparently fine. Weird.

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