Friday, September 28, 2007


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling
One of the most inspiring pieces of poetry ever written. The occasion then was the Boer War of the 1890s. Have read lots about this poem a lot recently. So decided to post Kipling's words on my blog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We Are The Champions

I do not have anything much to write anymore. The above pictures should be good enough.
September 24, 2007, Johannesburg, South Africa
India beat Pakistan by 5 runs in a thriller of a match to become the first Twenty20 World Champions.
चक दे इंडिया!

I Did It

In between all the excitement of the Twenty20 World Cup, I started another activity on a personal front. The lazy me started jogging /running in the evenings. Today was the seventh day of this program. And so far I have managed to do this regularly. The only day off was caused by rains at my scheduled run time. The most satisfying part is its already become a habit and it does not matter whether I have company or not. And yesterday I manged to run the entire length of the campus from the hostel to the gate and back, a small distance of nearly 3 km along the hill. So the primary target has been achieved. I did it and can proudly talk about it. And I also inspired one other person to go on the run.
Lets hope I manage to keep my motivation up and keep jogging.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Ultimate Match-Up

The Twenty20 World Cup has come to its business end. And what a final line up. India vs Pakistan. Only once before have India and Pakistan met in a final of a major tournament; the World Series Final in Australia in 1985 which India won comfortably. And 22 years later, it is the final the marketing team of ICC could only have dreamed about.
Both teams had come to South Africa following a terrible World Cup in the West Indies. And here they have powered their way into the finals having outclassed all opponents in their way. For Pakistan its been their unheralded players, Misbah-ul-Haq and Sohail Tanvir who have led the way. And for India, it seems everybody has played their part. A top class opening partnership of Sehwag and Gambhir, followed by the power hitting led by Yuvraj and backed up by Uthappa, Dhoni and Rohit Sharma has led to a series of impressive scores against all opponents on difficult tracks. The bowling has been led by RP Singh and Sresanth was on fire against Australia. The comeback men Pathan and Harbhajan have been superb. The bowling has been backed up by great fielding (by Indian standards).
For the finals India's policy would be simple. Win toss, bat first, score big and defend the score. And continue our record of always beating Pakistan in a World Cup.
And we will have won our first World Cup since 1983.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Infidelity, Backward Thinking, and Market Crashes

Got a highly interseting mail. I do not know the original source but liked it vey much.

Infidelity, Backward Thinking, and Market Crashes
Once upon a time there was a village in which there lived many married couples. There were certain qualities about this village, though, thatmade this village unique:
Whenever a man had an affair with another man's wife, every woman in the village got to know about the affair, except his own wife. This happened because the woman who he had slept with talked about their affair with all the other women in the village, except his wife. Moreover, no one ever told his wife about the affair. The strict laws of the village required that if a woman could prove that her own husband had been unfaithful towards her, then she must kill him that very day before midnight. Also, every woman was law-abiding, intelligent, and aware of the intelligence of other women living in that village.
You and I know that exactly twenty of the men had been unfaithful to their wives. However, as no woman could prove the guilt of her husband, the village life proceeded smoothly. Then, one morning, a wise old man with a long, white beard came to the village. His magical powers, and honesty was acknowledged by all and his word was taken as the gospel truth. The wise old man asked all villagers to gather together in the village compound and then announced:
"At least one of the men in this village has been unfaithful to his wife."
1. What happened next?
2. And what this got to do with stock market crashes?
Answer 1:
After the wise old man has spoken, there shall be 19 peaceful days followed by a massive slaughter before the midnight of the 20th day whentwenty women will kill their husbands.
We will use backward thinking for the proof.
Let's start by assuming that there is only one unfaithful man in the village - Mr. A. Later, we shall drop this assumption. Every woman in the village except Mrs. A knows that he is unfaithful. However, since no one has told her anything, and she remains blissfully ignorant. But only until the old man speaks the words, "At least one of the men in this village has been unfaithful to his wife."
The old man's words are news only for Mrs. A, and mean nothing to the other women. And because she is intelligent, she correctly reasons that if any man other than her own husband was unfaithful, she would have known about it. And since she has no such knowledge in her possession, it must mean that it's her own husband who is unfaithful. And so, before the midnight of the day the old man spoke, she must execute her husband.
Now, let's assume that there were exactly two unfaithful men in the village - Mr. A and Mr. B. The moment the old man speaks the words, "At least one of the men in this village has been unfaithful to his wife," the village's women population gets divided as follows:
Every woman other than Mrs. A and Mrs. B knows the whole truth; Mrs. A knows about philanderer Mr. B, but, as of now, knows nothing about her own husband's unfaithfulness, so she assumes that there is only one unfaithful man - Mr. B - who will be executed by Mrs. B that night; and Mrs. B knows about philanderer Mr. A, but, as of now, knows nothing abouther own husband's unfaithfulness, so she assumes that there is only one unfaithful man - Mr. A - who will be executed by Mrs. A that night. As the midnight of day one approaches, Mrs. A is expecting Mrs. B to execute her husband, and vice versa. But, and this is key, none of them do what the other one is expecting them to do! The clock is ticking away and passes midnight and day 2 starts. What happens now is sudden realization on the part of both Mrs. A and Mrs. B, that there must be more than one man who is unfaithful. And, since none of them had prior knowledge about this other unfaithful man, then it must be their own respective husbands who were unfaithful! In other words, the inaction of one represents new information for the other.Therefore, using the principles of inductive logic requiring backward thinking, both Mrs. A and Mrs. B will execute their respective husbands before the midnight of day 2.
Now, let's assume that there are exactly three unfaithful men in the village- Mr. A, Mr. B, and Mr. C. The same procedure can be used to show that in such a scenario, the wives of these three philandering men will kill them before the midnight of day 3. Using the same process, it can be shown that if exactly twenty husbands are unfaithful, their wives would finally be able to prove it on the 20th day, which will also be the day of the bloodbath.
Answer 2:
Connection with Stock Market Crashes
If you replace the announcement of the old man with that provided, by say, SEBI, the nervousness of the wives with the nervousness of the investors, the wives' contentment as long as their own husbands weren't cheating on them with the investors' contentment so long as their own companies werenot indulging in fraud, the execution of twenty husbands with massive dumping of stocks, and the time lag between the old man's announcement and the killings with the time lag between the old man's announcement and the market crash, the connection between the story and market crashes becomes obvious.
Information Asymmetry
One of the most interesting aspects about the story is the role of information asymmetry. You and I knew that there were exactly twenty unfaithful men in the village. We had complete information about the number of unfaithful men inthat village but not their identity. On the other hand, every woman in the village knew the identity of at least nineteen unfaithful men. For example, if you were Mrs. A, you would have known about nineteen unfaithful men, but not about your own husband's unfaithfulness. And, if you were one of the women whose husband was faithful, then you'd know the identity of twenty unfaithful men. But the old man did not say that there were twenty unfaithful men in the village. All he said was that there was at least one unfaithful man in thevillage. So, his statement, did not add anything to the knowledge of any individual woman because each of them knew of at least nineteen unfaithfulmen! And yet, his statement caused the bloodbath after twenty days!
The lesson is simple:
It's not necessary for any new information to cause havoc in the stock market. Sudden realizations about the stupidity of gross overvaluations and dubious accounting practices followed by some companies in bubble markets can and do occur simultaneously in the minds of the crowd. And that sudden realization can cause markets to crash.
The above village story was adapted from John Paulos' excellent book, Once Upon a Number and was repeated in his, other, also excellent, book, A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Thriller of a Match

Date: Friday, Setember 14, 2006
Event: India vs Pakistan, Group D match in the Twenty20 World Cup
Venue: D-Block Common Room

It was well past midnight when Afridi missed the stumps and the fifty odd people in the common room erupted in joy. It had been a thrilling encounter, a game full of twists and turns culminating in a bowl-out. The basic events of the match are as follows. First Asif wrecked apart the Indian top order before Uthappa and Dhoni made some recovery and India posted a total which was well below the accepted Twenty20 standards. Second innings and it was the turn of the Indian pacers to torment the Pakistani batsmen. The pressure started mounting and the wickets started tumbling. Soon India were seemingly in control of the game.With 39 needed of 14 deliveries, Misbah-ul-Haq was joined by Arafat and they hammered the ball all around the park. Just 1 needed of the last 2 deliveries and Misbah could not get it and was run out in the process. The game ended in a tie and a bowl-out was to decide the winner. In the bowl-out India struck in all 3 attempts while Pakistan missed all three.
The Result: A 3-0 victory for India
The absorbing game was complete fun. A test of nerves for the players but complete money's worth for the specatators. The India-Pakistan clash lived up to its prime time billing and India maintained its perfect record against Pakistan in the big events (5-0 as of now). A great game.
Twenty20 World Cup: I'm lovin it.
P.S. After the crazy batting of Bangladesh against the hosts today, I still bet on them. Though wishing they bat for alittle more time.
P.P.S Heart wants India to win. And after yesterday's performance, well who knows.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Twenty20 WC: I'm Lovin It

The new and much hyped global cricketing event, the ICC Twenty20 World Cup is underway in South Africa. 14 days, 27 matches and we will have our first Twenty20 world champion. The new format has many sceptics who are not particularly enamored by the slambang cricket going on. It has been considered mindless slogging and at times it is almost inhuman for the bowlers. But after 3 days of competition, one thing is clear to me. It is here to stay.The reasons are quite simple.
Twenty20 is fun. It has lots of runs, loud music, cheerleaders dancing with every boundary hit, a party like atmosphere on the ground. And it is all over in 3 hours. Perfect for today's decreasing attention spans. Another feature thats been seen is that it closes the gap between the teams. There is very little room for error. A couple of bad overs and the favourites may be knocked out. After all how often do we see Zimbabwe comprehensively outplay the big boys Australia.
Twenty20 World Cup: I'm lovin' it
P.S. My bet for the winners - Bangladesh