## fast track & slow lane

Posted in Books, Kids, R, Statistics with tags , , , , on September 3, 2022 by xi'an

A riddle from the Riddler where N cars going at random (iid) speeds drive a road with a slow and a fast lane, each car choosing the fast lane iff any of the cars ahead in the slow lane is slowerthan them. With the question of the average number of car convoys.

If there were one single lane, the problem would be to determine how many times a smaller realisation and it has been solved in a much older Riddler. Namely

$\sum_{i=1}^N 1\big/ i$

In the two-lane system, the slow one only gathers cars with speeds lowest than the current speed, i.e. a decreasing sequence of speeds, creating single car convoys.  The fast lane thus captures cars that are above the current minimum in the sequence, which, as it converges to the global minimum at some points, means that all following cars are found in the fast lane. i thought this would bring the number of convoys close to twice the above logarithmic sum (which sealed my destiny during an entrance oral exam 40 years ago!), but there are actually more of them for N large enough , which may be due to the possibility of the slow lane to capture more moderate speed cars in the beginning… The above compares the number of convoys for one lane (in red) and two (in gold), as well as the remarkable fit when regressing these numbers against log(N).

Here is the R code I used for that simulation

convoy=function(N,T=1e5){
for(t in 1:T){
speed=runif(N)
slow=fast=NULL
slow=speed[1]
for(i in 2:N){
if(speed[i]<min(slow))slow=c(slow,speed[i])
else fast=c(fast,speed[i])}
F=F+length(slow)
if(length(fast)>0)F=F+1+sum(fast[-1]<cummin(fast)[-length(fast)])}
return(F/T)}

## [ex?] Paris-Saclay univerXity

Posted in Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2017 by xi'an

In the plane to Warwick last Tuesday, I read a fairly long and pessimistic article in Le Monde about the future of the Paris-Saclay university. This debate presumably makes no sense outside French circles, for it relates to the century-old opposition between universities and grandes écoles, these selective engineering and business schools that operate independently from the university structure. In the sense that the selection and the schooling of their students is completely separated, meaning these students may never attend a university program if they choose to do so. But not so independently in terms of hiring part-time professors from universities and sharing resources for their Master programs. And depending on the same agencies (like CNRS) for funding their research program.

Anyway, the core message of this article was that the influence of former students from Polytechnique [aka X] in the high administration is such that they can prevent the integration of the different engineer schools on the Saclay plateau into the intended superstructure of the Paris-Saclay university. And turn this somewhat megalomanic Paris-Saclay project initiated by Nicolas Sarkozy into a mere geographical superposition of separate institutions, with very unequal State funding, perpetuating the two speed regime for public higher education… And a ever more confusing international image that will not help an inch moving up the Shanghai ranking (a major reason for Sarkozy pushing this project). Very French indeed!