Monday, May 18, 2009

The price of lacking quantitative skills

Venta de Automobiles by Telstar Logistics, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License by Telstar Logistics

The price of not acquiring quantitative skills (which are developed in math courses) could be cost prohibitive. Recently, I watched the news a report on how people are getting into financial troubles when purchasing a new car. The problem is that more people are taking car loans in which they owe a lot more than the real value of the car. This is called an upside-down loan. People are making decisions of buying a new car based on no-down payment deals and longer terms to payback the loan to allegedly save a few bucks. Unfortunately, if they would have done the math, they would have realized they are not saving at all! Click the link below to read an article about the incresed trend of upside-down loans.

In a hole with an upside-down auto loan

"Upside down" means owing more on a car than it's worth. When a dealer knocks
down the value of your used car even further, the financial hole you're in gets
that much deeper.
"It's an alarming statistic that 40 percent of consumers are upside down."
How could this happen? It's easy. Just combine a low down payment or no down
payment with an auto loan with a longer term -- say five, six, even seven years.
Toss in the rapid depreciation that hits every new car in the first couple of
years and presto, you're upside down on your auto loan. Try to trade in your car
and you'll find yourself awash in negative equity.
Some folks make matters worse by rolling the old car's remaining debt into a new
loan. They're forced to pay interest and make payments on a car they don't even
own anymore. And tacking the extra debt on their new auto loan puts them upside
down all over again.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

STOP! The traffic light is turning red!

There are so many people driving vehicles on the streets but you rarely see chaotic events due to traffic. Why? Mathematics play an important role controlling traffic lights by helping traffic controllers optimizing the signal changes of traffic lights. Click the link below to learn more about this interesting application of mathematics and traffic lights.
clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Welcome to the red light district
Traffic light
There's nothing more frustrating than sitting at a red light, watching
smiling drivers on the other side of the road speed past.
HOW ARE TRAFFIC LIGHTS CONTROLLED?
The first uses data collected on traffic flow in a certain area to calculate
timings for the lights, running the red lights to a strict timetable.

The other method is a little more hi-tech.

Coiled under the tarmac at junctions and crossroads across the UK, are loops
of cable which act as metal detectors as cars pass over them.

This information is passed to a central computer, which uses complex
algorithms to calculate the optimal time each light should spend on each colour,
ideally creating a smooth flow of traffic throughout the network.

Mathematical algorithms, and futuristic operations centres can only get you so
far.
"There is no way of getting down to a neat mathematical formula.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Remarkable Coincidences...Hmmm!

Have you experienced remarkable coincidences in your daily life? Maybe these were not remarkable after all. Watch the video below to learn how probability explains logically how typical or common are many events in our lives that we may have considered as remarkable coincidences.

Down You Go!


Down You go
Originally uploaded by Flashheart HP



Things around our lives are more than what meets the eye. If you oberve carefully, the simple staircase above is more mathematical than what you think. Compare the spiral staircase to the mathematical spiral. Can you see the resemblance? Learn more about this spiral and others by visiting the site 'Visual Dictionary of Special Plane Curves.'

Friday, May 1, 2009

Searching for Information in the Internet?!

Most of us are always looking for information in the Internet and we use popular search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, etc. However, there will be a new search engine starting May 2009 that will interpret your questions. Is this search engine will be more powerful than Google? I'm not sure yet but I believe it will be! How is this possible? ... it uses Mathematics! Click the link below to learn more about this new search engine.
clipped from blog.wolfram.com
WolframAlpha

Fifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that they’d
quickly be able to handle all these kinds of things.

And that one would be able to ask a computer any factual question, and have
it compute the answer.

But it didn’t work out that way. Computers have been able to do many
remarkable and unexpected things. But not that.

But armed with Mathematica and NKS I realized there’s another way:
explicitly implement methods and models, as algorithms, and explicitly curate
all data so that it is immediately computable.
All one needs to be able to do is to take questions people ask in natural
language, and represent them in a precise form that fits into the computations
one can do.

I wasn’t at all sure it was going to work. But I’m happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we’re actually managing to make it work.

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