[Computational Complexity] From Toronto to Chicago to Basketball
I just returned from visiting the University of Toronto, my first visit to the campus in 18 years. I spent much of my time talking to the same people I did back then, Charlie Rackoff, Steve Cook and Faith Fich (now Faith Ellen). Also former NEC postdoc and current Toronto prof Avner Magen and my former student Rahul Santhanam visiting there for the spring.
The biggest news in Canada is happening in Chicago, the trial of Lord Conrad Black, but it barely makes the news here. Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune wrote today about the non-story. The big news in Chicago is a 73 degree day yesterday, Mayor Daley's wrangling to get the 2016 Olympics in Chicago and, of course, March Madness.
What speaks math more than the NCAA Men's Division I Collegiate Basketball tournament that gets underway tomorrow. First you have a beautiful binary tree published in all the US papers (and Canadian ones too) and filled out by millions in their office pools. Nothing like a single elimination contest to explain exponential growth, 64 teams need only 6 rounds to find a champion. Technically they have 65 teams now, and they needed an extra single-game round yesterday to get to the 64 remaining teams.
The tournament draws more betting, legal and illegal, than any other event (though the Super Bowl draws more for a single game). These bets lead to predictions. With sites like Tradesports you can get prices on securities that give you estimated probabilities. Not absolute probabilities but those who use the markets to fill out their office pools likely won't do too poorly, even with no understanding of college basketball.
Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 3/14/2007 08:21:00 PM