Archive for cellphone

how large is 9!!!!!!!!!?

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2017 by xi'an

This may sound like an absurd question [and in some sense it is!], but this came out of a recent mathematical riddle on The Riddler, asking for the largest number one could write with ten symbols. The difficulty with this riddle is the definition of a symbol, as the collection of available symbols is a very relative concept. For instance, if one takes  the symbols available on a basic pocket calculator, besides the 10 digits and the decimal point, there should be the four basic operations plus square root and square,which means that presumably 999999999² is the largest one can  on a cell phone, there are already many more operations, for instance my phone includes the factorial operator and hence 9!!!!!!!!! is a good guess. While moving to a computer the problem becomes somewhat meaningless, both because there are very few software that handle infinite precision computing and hence very large numbers are not achievable without additional coding, and because it very much depends on the environment and on which numbers and symbols are already coded in the local language. As illustrated by this X validated answer, this link from The Riddler, and the xkcd entry below. (The solution provided by The Riddler itself is not particularly relevant as it relies on a particular collection of symbols, which mean Rado’s number BB(9999!) is also a solution within the right referential.)

incredible India

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2017 by xi'an

[The following is a long and fairly naïve rant about India and its contradiction, without pretence at anything else than writing down some impressions from my last trip. JATP: Just another tourist post!]

Incredible India (or Incredible !ndia) is the slogan chosen by the Indian Ministry of Tourism to promote India. And it is indeed an incredible country, from its incredibly diverse landscapes [and not only the Himalayas!] and eco-systems, to its incredibly huge range of languages [although I found out during this trip that the differences between Urdu and Hindi are more communitarian and religious than linguistic, as they both derive from Hindustani, although the alphabets completely differ] and religions [a mixed blessing], to its incredibly rich history and culture, to its incredibly wide offer of local cuisines [as shown by the Bengali sample below, where the mustard seed fish cooked in banana leaves and the fried banana flowers are not visible!] and even wines [like Sula Vineyards, which offers a pretty nice Viognier]. Not to mention incredibly savoury teas from Darjeeling and Assam. Continue reading

Taxi soap…

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , on October 27, 2010 by xi'an

Heard in a taxicab this morning (the cab driver is the one talking):

– …

– How comes you spent all the money on her?! You’re an idiot, an idiot!

– …

– No, money is hard to come by and I didn’t send this money for you to spend 10,000 rupees on a car! 3,000 is the maximum, 4,000 is the maximum, 5,000 is the maximum, are you out of your mind or something?! Now you do not have any money left. When are you ever going to listen to me?!

– …

– No, it is not ok. What do you mean, it’s ok?! Is she going to spend 12,000 on you now? You’re such an idiot, Siddharth. How are you going to get a living?!

– …

– Let me tell you, she does not deserve you spending any of this money on her. If she was worth it, I would be ok, I would support you, but she is not worth it… Next time you decide on this kind of spending, I want to be there to face her. I want to tell her she is not worth it.

(At this point I left the taxicab as we were stuck in a jam and the shouting driver was simply getting too annoying!)