Archive for Barack Obama

an unexpected outlet for a final message

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by xi'an

President Barack Obama has once again raised the epitomé of cool by writing a tribune in Science entitled The irreversible momentum of clean energy. A few days before leaving his office.

“…evidence is mounting that any economic strategy that ignores carbon pollution will impose tremendous costs to the global economy and will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth over the long term.” B. Obama, 13 January, 2017

I do not know how many other US presidents or would-be presidents have written in Science or equivalent journals (maybe Abraham Lincoln when seeking alternatives to sperm whale oil), but I doubt his immediate successor will be one of these. So, goodbye Mr. President! And sorry to see you leave…

Common ancestors

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , on June 8, 2011 by xi'an

In conjunction with President Obama’s visit to Ireland two weeks ago and in particular to his ancestral Irish town, I happened to glance at his family tree and saw that he shared a common ancestor with George W. Bush. (They are 11th cousins, meaning that a 12th-order ancestor is common to both their  family trees.) This sounds at first amazing, but it is another occurrence of the (von Mises) birthday problem. (The fact that it is not that amazing is demonstrated by the simultaneous presence of [French!] ancestors of Dick Cheney in the same tree.) If we consider President Obama’s mother side, the probability that all of her 11th-order ancestors differ from all of George W. Bush’s 12th-order ancestors is

p=\dfrac{(M-2^{12})(M-2^{12}-1)\cdots(M-2^{12}-2^{11}+1)}{M(M-1)\cdots(M-2^{11}+1)}

where M denotes the whole population of potential ancestors at this period. If we consider all those ancestors as coming from the British Isles, then about 1650, the population was about 8 million. This would lead to a probability of p=0.35, i.e. there is a 65% chance that they share a 12th-order ancestor. If instead we consider the whole European population at that time (if only to include German and French ancestors to President Obama), M is about 100 million and the probability increases to p=0.92, so there is then an 8% probability for them to share an ancestor. Obviously, this rough calculation relies on simplifying assumptions, avoiding the issue of inbreeding which means that the potential 2¹¹ ancestors are in fact much less than 2¹¹, and the fact that their ancestors are necessarily emigrants, which reduces the value of M(This post appeared yesterday on the Statistics Forum.)