Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The greatest game of all time

For some reason I was reading a technical article on Wikipedia, and in four inevitable clicks I found myself on the page for Super Mario Brothers, the greatest and most popular game of all times. Back when my parents had bought a TV game system, I was rationed 30 minutes of game time every day. Though the cartridge had 76 games, Super Mario was the clear choice on many of those days. Now that I use a Nintendo emulator, the game still remains the alpha dog.

For die hard fans, here are some awesome renditions of the opening theme of the game --- flute beatboxing, clarinets, flute and clarinet, piano, guitar, Guitar Hero, acappella, church organ, and an orchestra rendition.

Some very unusual and highly creative renditions --- with an ordinary 20cm ruler, and another with a toy car and dozens of beer bottles!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Let me get some ketchup so I can eat my words

Okay, now that the circus is over, the time has come to evaluate our predictions.

1Kolkata Knight RidersChennai Super Kings
2Bangalore Royal ChallengersMumbai Indians
3Delhi DaredevilsBangalore Royal Challengers
4Kings XI PunjabDeccan Chargers
5Mumbai IndiansDelhi Daredevils
6Chennai Super KingsKolkata Knight Riders
7Deccan ChargersRajasthan Royals
8Rajasthan RoyalsKings XI Punjab

As the alert reader will notice, we managed to make only eight mistakes out of a grand total of eight. Now I am not one to make excuses, so I will not try to wriggle out of this embarrassment. Instead I will point out the probability of getting every single rank wrong if I were to guess wildly --- around 37%.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Machine learning and marriage

(With apologies to those who do not know machine learning)

I had a dream of benzene proportions a few nights ago. For some inexplicable reason,
I was pondering about marriage a lot that night. Not my marriage, but marriage in
general -- why do guys go for it? what is the benefit to both the parties etc? The usual stuff, no biggie. I forgot about it and went to bed thinking about Mount Doom as usual.

Three hours later, I was talking to myself in a dream:

Me1: You know that a single guy is like a very high dimensional vector with high density and very few zeros.
Me2: No kidding! Why?

Me1: A single guy holds a lot of opinions on thousands of issues, is quite dogmatic, has two cents on every problem, and everything is important to him. If you ask him anything, you will rarely draw a blank.
Me2: Hmmm fair enough I guess, go on.

Me1: A girl is like a projection matrix and a marriage is like projecting the guy vector on a low dimensional space with high sparsity.
Me2: I don't get it. Why is marriage a sparse vector in low dimensions?

Me1: Think about it. Marriage means finding commonalities between the two people => low dimensions, and marriage really depends only on a select few solid traits => sparsity. After marriage, the guy lets go (or has to let go) of most of his opinions, 'compromise' and focus only on the important things.
Me2: Ok fine, marriage is a sparse vector in a low dimensional space. Big deal. What's your

Me1 (smiling): My point?
Me2 (impatient): Yes, your point.

Me2: Johnson Lindenstrauss lemma?
Me1: Precisely.
Me2: ??
Me1 (beatific smile):
Me2: OH!!!
Me2: Man! You just blew my mind!

For those of you who are not aware of the lemma, it states that with high probabilily, any random projection matrix can be employed to project a high dimensional vector into a low dimensional one, with small loss in the resulting transformation. For marriage it means that do not think about who you should marry, just pick a random girl, and with high probability the end outcome won't be too bad ;-) I fell into a blissful sleep after that.

Probably the only time in my life when I impressed myself.

PS: Would have loved to see an XKCD cartoon of that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

IPL Predictions - part 3

As we write the final part in this prediction series, we humbly note that at least two of our earlier predictions has come true -- Sehwag made a characteristic 8(6) in the match against Punjab, and Sreesanth did take his wicket, although sitting in US we couldn't see if Sreesanth ran a half-marathon victory lap or not.

Now without further delay, our final two teams are:

Bangalore Royal Challengers (RC)

New Motto: Now with jerseys redder than our faces when we lose the final

At the time of writing, RC have yet to play a game, and so we can still speculate who the captain is going to be. Since Mr Skunk Hairdo is still playing in Bangladesh, RC's megalomaniac owner has no choice but to give the captaincy once and for all to Kumble. Since the Kiwis are playing against Australia right now, it means that Mr Beer Belly aka Jesse Ryder, and Mr I-don't-play-any-off-side-shots Ross Taylor are out for at least a few weeks. Thus it is the South Africans that RC must trust, after all they provide four members of the squad.

It is our prediction that without Taylor and Pieterson, RC will find it difficult to make do with the antics of Roelef Van der Merwe and Uthappa. We expect them to lose more than half their league matches in the first three weeks. This will be followed by a slight revival on the return of Taylor (maybe winning three consecutive matches), only to find out that it is almost too late, which will lead Kumble to adopt his familiar angry constipated look. In the last few crunch matches, RC will raise their game however, make the final four, and will probably beat Delhi Daredevils (who are just dying to lose in the semis) to reach the final against KKR. An hour before the final, we expect Kumble to give a stirring LOTR pre-war speech to his wards.

"Men inside the bewdaas, I see in your eyes the fear of Shane Bond that will take the heart of me! A day will come when we will play on to our stumps, but it is not this day! A day might come when we all fall to Mendis, when even Agarkar gets a wicket, but it is not this day! I say, this we fight! This day we SLOG SWEEP!"

The story of the final has been told elsewhere, but we expect Kumble to take at least 3 wickets, including that of Dada (trapped in front). At the presentation ceremony, Kumble, as the losing captain, will make a solemn speech -- "Only one team played in the spirit of the game, and it was not us" before correcting himself 2 seconds later.

Prediction: 2
Reaction: Megalomaniac eating his red RC cap for the second consecutive year.

Rajasthan Royals

Let's face it. RR are a completely unpredictable bunch, and we saw that in the match against Mumbai, where they almost made it after making reservations in the parade of the losers.
So what is it going to be this year? It is tempting to say they will be in the bottom two, because that is the only position remaining in our predictometer, but let's try to justify, shall we?

First, is it just us, or is Shane Warne fatter than even his usual chubby standards? When he runs in the infield, he looks like a sloth bear gently ambling onto the nearest tree in search for shade.
But let us not go by the looks, for he is still sharp as a tack. Instead, let us look at the changes. They do not have Watson or Tanvir (or Mr Butterfingers aka Kamran Akmal for that matter). On the plus side, they only have the formidable presence of Pathan and the equally formidable absence of Kaif. Some might argue that Asnodkar will find it easy to play in the Indian pitches with his 4' 3" frame (discounting his second ball run-out yesterday), but we find him over-rated, like Kamran Khan and Ravindra Jadeja (also absent). Shaun Tait will not matter much on these pitches, but Damien Martyn will, sadly he will not get to play much.

All in all, if Yusuf and Smith fail, RR will be reduced to becoming everybody's favorite whipping boy. We don't expect to see Shilpa and Shamita Shetty jumping up and down in the stands very often this year. Consequently we arrive at the inevitable conclusion.

Prediction: 7 or 8
Reaction: Shane Warne nonchalantly drinking beer and playing poker with the crowd at deep extra cover, and Yusuf Pathan making his usual angry monkey faces (except against Deccan for obvious reasons) after every loss.

Monday, March 08, 2010

IPL Predictions (part 2)

We present the second part in the three part series on IPL predictions. Part 1 is here.

Kings XI Punjab

New Motto: IPL? 1 million dollars. Champions League? 2.5 million. A hug from Preity? Priceless.

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Behind a successful team is also a woman, preferably beautiful and giving out hugs to select players after victories. KXIP's run in this IPL, while not truly platinum, will still be golden. That is, if you can call losing in the semis golden. Well, the Delhi Daredevils call it golden, so golden it is. Our trust in KXIP's golden patch is well founded because of several strong reasons, not many of which have to do anything with cricket.

First, Preity is no longer in a relationship. This means she will be giving out proper hugs to the entire team, without incurring the wrath of Ness Wadia. As any Indian male will tell you, a hug can work wonders, especially with babies like Sreesanth on board. As a backup, those who do not get hugs will get one from VRV Singh, for obvious non-veg reasons that we refuse to discuss. Secondly, in their opening match against Delhi, Sreesanth will clean bowl Sehwag, and in celebration will run three victory laps and a 2-mile run outside the stadium, while IPL shows ads. This will leave him with no energy to play the rest of the tournament, which means a better bowler will take his place. Third, Sangakkara will replace Yuvraj as a captain, freeing the latter to play his natural game or picking his nose at backward point without the fear of camera zoom-ins. Corollary: Sangakkara will not be able to pick his nose.

These positive developments can only mean one thing.

Prediction: 3 or 4
Reaction: Preity jumping up and down in the dug-out will finally cause a cave in, and the Mohali ground will become as sloped as Lord's.

Deccan Chargers

New Motto: Yo Afridi! Now we too play home games away from home.

Let's face it, Chargers are the new Pakistan. Well not exactly, for they were not the victims of terrorism or bombings. Just some true blue Hyderabadis, who ensured that Gilchrist won't be able to play in the batsman-friendly Hyderabad stadium. Instead they will play in Nagpur and another city whose name rhymes with buttock (yes, we find it funny). While we don't know if this will lead to butt-clenchingly tight matches or a loose flow of runs, we do know that Gilchrist won't give a damn. One opposition bowler will be picked at random (last year it was Nannes), and he will carted for 5 or 6 boundaries in his first over, thereby completing the proof that T20 is definitely not a bowler's game. Last year, seasoned career bowlers like Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma had bowled hat-tricks. This time our money is on young Harmeet Singh, whose express pace of 128ks will distress all and sundry on Indian pitches. Also, replacing Fidel Edwards will be Kemar Roach, a bowler whose name makes the batsman instinctively reach out for Baygon spray, losing their wicket in the process. RP Singh will keep things balanced by providing his usual 4-0-48-0 at the other end. However, overruling them all will be the mercenary Symonds, who will continue exploiting cricket grounds smaller than Mumbai apartments. Watch out Kolkata! you got competition.

Prediction: Runner up by a small margin. After all, Bond. Shane Bond.
Reaction: Wayne Parnell of Delhi will announce his retirement after being pounded for 6 fours in his opening over against Gilchrist. Also, VVS Laxman will manage to show genuine happiness inspite of not playing a single match.

Chennai Super Kings

New Motto: The team of brothers and bosoms.

The motto is obviously derived from the most puke-inducing statement of the year,viz Matthew Hayden's proclamation -- "I have been welcomed into the bosom of India as a brother". We predict that Dhoni will continue to inspire his team with honest statements like "Our bowling was quite short of the mark", "Our bowling needs to improve drastically in the next game", "We cannot afford to field like this in the finals" and so on. As a result, CSK will continue to deliver gems like this.

We now digress and make two statements about CSK that have nothing to do with predictions. First, we think that watching Hayden and Parthiv Patel strolling out to bat is the funniest possible sight in IPL. They look like Goliath and David, like a lion and a (dwarf) gazelle, like Morgoth and Pippin, like a kangaroo and its prematurely born baby. Parthiv's desperate attempts at growing a moustache makes it funnier. Second, we believe that Sivaramanahasapeemapetilon, or whoever is the CSK drummer, is highly overrated who should be made to listen to his own 'music' (if you can call it that). If wearing a bandana and showing 'passion' was enough, I would be giving Bono a run for his money.

Coming back to predictions, everyone knows that Super Kings rely on just three players --- Hayden, Raina and Murali. It is our conviction that since Hayden will be busy exploring India's bosom and what not, it will be up to Raina and Dhoni to score quickly. Since Dhoni's pilot license is still pending, he will not be allowed to play his favorite helicopter shot, thereby curtailing his array of shots to just one -- the unsightly scoop over short fine leg. Realizing this, Dhoni will promote Kemp and Albie Morkel to do the hitting, who will be as lost on Indian pitches as a kid in a topless bar (hat tip: Sidhu). So we don't expect to see anything great coming out of CSK this year, except the occassional victory here and a fielding gem there.

Prediction: 5 or 6
Reaction: "Our goddamn bowlers and SOB fielders really need to improve dammit! I am serious!" - Dhoni.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

IPL Predictions (part 1)

We work in Machine Learning down here in our secret labs, and by we I obviously mean me and my alter ego. Before you say "Machine Whaaaa?", let me say that my job is to make 'intelligent' predictions. Since the IPL is near, this can only mean one thing.

We break our self-imposed blog exile by posting a series of predictions about the IPL rankings this year. Anyone using these predictions for betting or gambling better give me 10% of the winnings.

We begin with part one.


a) Delhi Daredevils:

New Motto: "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Hurray for the bridesmaid!"

DD's game plan is to perform really well in the league stage. This leaves them with no mojo for the semi-finals, where they inevitably lose big time. Having perfected the fine art of finishing 3rd or 4th, my predictometer says that the result this year will not be any different. We predict that DD will be carried by the awesome trio, i.e. Warner, AB, and Dilshan, while Sehwag provides consistent scores of the form 4(3) and 8(4). Let us not forget Gambhir, who will probably pitch in with gritty knocks of 7(12) and 15(14). We expect to see plenty of first over dismissals when DD is batting.

In the bowling department, Nannes will again have a golden patch (except the semis, ouch!), and Nehra will provide support in fits and starts with figures like 4-0-32-1. Again, Vettori and Dilshan will lead the spin attack, with Mishra busy mis-fielding at mid-on. New boy Parnell will not be used heavily as all four foreign slots will have huge contenders. Consequently Pradip Sangwan will tell his grand-children that he kept Parnell on the bench. Paul Collingwood and Moises Henriques will be utilized to do what they do best -- fetching water and towels.

Prediction : 3 or 4
Reaction: Hurray! We get to play in the Champions League!

b) Mumbai Indians:

New Motto: "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, one match at a time".

MI have lost so many matches in the last over that one wonders if Nita Ambani has any of her manicured nails left. This hurts them a lot as they always succeed in finishing a comfortable 5th or 6th (Hey! it is better than 8th, they say). However things might change as Mukesh Ambani has sold off his house to pay for Kieron Pollard in the latest auction. If Pollard displays his famed hitting skills even twice, Mumbai may threaten to break into the top-4. But we know MI very well, don't we?

We predict that Jayasuriya will finally succumb to his age, thus nullifying the Pollard factor, and Sachin will play the "Tendulkar card", whereby the entire Indians team will collapse after he gets out. In the middle order, Duminy will fall first ball LBW to
every spinner, mistaking him for Bhajji. Thus, even Mishra from Delhi will get his wicket. Therefore, the only Mumbai Indian who can erroneously propel the team into the top-4 is Abhishek Nayar. If MI play their cards right, they will have to ensure that he gets out before that. Maybe Dwayne Bravo or Bhajji can run him out.

As an aside, in the two matches against Rajasthan Royals, old-timers will have a mini-orgasm after seeing a sum total of five balls that Warne bowls to Sachin (at least one of which will be hit inside out over extra cover). We also predict that this time Bhajji will slap Brett Lee by mistake, and then walk with a pelvic plaster cast after that.

Prediction: 5 or 6
Reaction: Either "Sachin: the ball was coming onto the bat" or "At least it is better than finishing last."

c) Kolkata Knight Riders:

New Motto: "Is baar to karbo larbo jeetbo re $@#$@#!"

Ah! the KKR, how we love them and hate them. All that we remember from KKR @ IPL 2009 is Dada's glowering and sulking face. But this time to udi baba re! they are in for a solid surprise. The captaincy will revert to Dada, and with the dictatorship restored, things will run much more smoothly. The line up will be "Gayle, Dada, Hodge, Hussey, unmentionables, equally unmentionable Agarkar,...,Bond". Gayle will again enjoy the lifeless pitches in India, making scores like 48(31) and 66(39), while Dada will be the perfect foil with scores like 4(13) and 22(35), with an average opening partnership of 55 runs. As before, Hodge and Hussey will win matches for KKR (if any). So what is the difference then? Well, there are three.

One -- the alert reader might notice the absence of McCullum, the ex-captain. While the official reason will be that he is busy playing against Australia, Dada will secretly celebrate at not having to deal with his old-flame. A happy captain always inspires. Given that Dada can neither bat nor bowl and definitely not field in T20, it is imperative that he at least remains positive. Two -- Bond, Shane Bond. He will single handedly give KKR two wickets per match, with figures like 4-0-18-2. Care must be taken that his figures are not nullified by Agarkar, or Kaan Moolo as he is better known these days. Three -- the law of the underdogs. In the long history of IPL, one has seen that the supposed underdogs always perform the best.
Rajasthan did it first, and Deccan/Bangalore did it next. Well last year, KKR were not even the underdogs, they were the fleas on the underdogs. Inevitably, they will perform HUGE this year.
Together, these three immutable laws can mean only one thing.

Prediction: WINNER! (Yes, holy sh**, even I can't believe what I predict!)
Reaction: My name is Khan and I am finally a goddamn IPL winner!

(Subsequent parts to be posted later)

Saturday, January 23, 2010