Mostly disorganised

Travel and Life in London, in that order

So I really did enjoy every moment out of London – Vienna is really a place everyone needs to visit in Europe, to experience old European hospitality (I mean this – some waiters appeared TOO experienced, dispensing “bitte schön” as a tired mutter), see their rather tasteful palaces (OK only got to see the Rococo decor of Schloss Schönbrunn, tbh, but it is classy and not overboard – I am sated) and wonder why they weren’t more significant/ assertive as a colonial power (or even now as an EU member)! As usual, I wasn’t able to spend enough time there, so I missed out quite a bit. I was intending to sightsee during and after the tournament (including taking a bus to Zentralfriedhof and visiting Slavín at night when I returned to Bratislava – quite gravely) but decided against it as I was in the running for prize money most of the way, and was rather fatigued when I got back to Bratislava. Well, next time then.

London is cold and miserable at this time and I am back to wearing thermals (I think I take cold quite well but not when we’re skimping on heating). Work is getting mathsier after the break and I don’t really like it – it’s just good that I am taking 3 half-mods this term so I have more time to understand what’s going on! Anyway, more pictures from London are due, and I’ll probably upload them in this space.

Scrabble, Bayesian games and Coursera

First up, some stats from MSI Vienna (scoreboard here).

Bingos missed: AEIOPST (thought IDEES wasn’t there, only to challenge it later and feel extremely embarrassed), ACILNPY (thought there was something in there but got as far as CLAYPIN*), AAEEGRTW (saw, but dismissed too quickly), AILNPT? (vs Nigel, thought for very long before deciding on PLIANTS*), AGJNOPST (knee-jerk GAJO for 58, don’t think I’d have spotted it anyway). Two of them were against Shanker which could have impacted the result of the games, and well, I’ve seen all of them before.

Phonies: 4 (2 unchallenged, 2 vs Nigel) – PYLAN* (it’s PYRAN), VOXES* (I thought FNU was a nicer leave than VNU, so whatever), PLIANTS* and PICO (thought both PISCO and PICO were good! A huge lapse in focus). Was generally able to focus well in the tournament, especially when I was up against tougher opposition – I think I tended to spend more time early and mid-game, and therefore played better in those parts. Perhaps I was overconfident against lower-rated players?

Anyway, I’ve been exploring Coursera, which is a platform hosting online university courses from many reputable universities (soon to include NUS), in my limited free time. I am completing a course on Game Theory now and the section of Bayesian games (where information on the type of the other player is incomplete) seems very applicable to my earlier post on phonies, specifically the part on challenging mentalities. I imagine it to be useful to model the phonying/ not phonying decision as a Bayesian game, but my understanding of game theory is too simplistic at this moment to do it myself. Similarly the challenging/ not challenging decision, if modelled, would be very interesting.

Coursera is really an excellent site, btw – the amount of undergrad-level knowledge being shared on there is phenomenal (a lifetime of learning, probably!). So far I’ve looked at courses on world music (introducing me to Tuvan throat music and Paul Simon’s Graceland, among others), astronomy (err, got kinda lost on the first lecture and haven’t bothered to continue, but still very fascinated nonetheless) and philosophy, where I managed to score full marks on the first quiz thanks to KI! The game theory course is probably the first one I will complete officially though.

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