A Poet of Computation Who Uncovers Distant Truths

The theoretical computer scientist Constantinos Daskalakis has won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize for explicating core questions in game theory and machine learning.
Guitar__CDScroll down to the bottom of Constantinos Daskalakis’ web page — past links to his theoretical computer science papers and his doctoral students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — and you will come upon a spare, 21-line poem by Constantine Cavafy, “The Satrapy.”

Written in 1910, it addresses an unnamed individual who is “made for fine and great works” but who, having met with small-mindedness and indifference, gives up on his dreams and goes to the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes. The king lavishes satrapies (provincial governorships) upon him, but his soul, Cavafy writes, “weeps for other things … the hard-won and inestimable Well Done; the Agora, the Theater, and the Laurels” — all the things Artaxerxes cannot give him. “Where will you find these in a satrapy,” Cavafy asks, “and what life can you live without these.”

For Daskalakis, the poem serves as a sort of talisman, to guard him against base motives. “It’s a moral compass, if you want,” he said. “I want to have this constant reminder that there are some noble ideas that you’re serving, and don’t forget that when you make decisions.” …
Read more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/computer-scientist-constantinos-daskalakis-wins-nevanlinna-prize-20180801/

Read also: The Work of Constantinos Daskalakis

Longest Straight Line Paths on Water or Land on the Earth

longest

Longest Sailable Straight Line Path on Earth


Rohan Chabukswar, Kushal Mukherjee
There has been some interest recently in determining the longest distance one can sail for on the earth without hitting land, as well as in the converse problem of determining the longest distance one could drive for on the earth without encountering a major body of water. In its basic form, this is an optimisation problem, rendered chaotic by the presence of islands and lakes, and indeed the fractal nature of the coasts. In this paper we present a methodology for calculating the two paths using the branch-and-bound algorithm.
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Longest Drivable Straight Line Path on Earth

Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1804.07389.pdf

Aside

Emergence of Benford’s Law in Classical Music

Azar Khosravani, Constantin Rasinariu

The histograms represents the digit distribution of time
intervals for each piano key played for the 32 piano sonatas by
Beethoven vs. the theoretical (Benford) distribution

We analyzed a large selection of classical musical pieces composed by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Tchaikovsky, and found a surprising connection with mathematics. For each composer, we extracted the time intervals each note was played in each piece and found that the corresponding data sets are Benford distributed. Remarkably, the logarithmic distribution is not only present for the leading digits, but for all digits.
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.06506.pdf