Srinivasa Ramanujan, Perfect Poker, Free Speech, Hospital Chaos , Company Directors


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Encounter With The Infinite

Benjamin Phelan & Robert Schneider | The Believer | 8th January 2015

Notes from a trip to India in the footsteps of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught genius so far ahead of his time that mathematicians are still struggling to understand his ideas a century after his death at 32. He duplicated Euler's work without knowing Euler had got there first; he solved problems of the infinite which had driven Cantor mad. "The simplest explanation is that Ramanujan was a time traveler from the future" (8,900 words)

Computer Becomes Unbeatable At Poker

Philip Ball | Homunculus | 8th January 2015

Heads-Up Limit Hold’em, a popular form of poker, has been "essentially solved" by a new computer algorithm which has discovered through trial and error the optimal strategies, including bluffing, for all possible distributions of the cards. The machine is virtually “incapable of losing against any opponent in a fair game”. It may lose a hand when an opponent holds much better cards; "but it always wins in the long run" (1,220 words)

I Am Not Charlie Hebdo

David Brooks | New York Times | 8th January 2015 | Metered paywall

"The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down" (970 words)

A Night In A&E: The Doctor’s Story

Anonymous | Guardian | 8th January 2015

Doctor's diary of a night shift in a British emergency room. "The last four patients to arrive by ambulance were drunk. Very, very drunk. They’re taking up cubicles and nursing staff. One of the drunk patients is shouting and swearing. He urinates all over the floor. It’s upsetting for the family of the dying cancer patient next door. They should be spending these last days together in a hospice, but all the hospices are full" (2,056 words)

There Is No Fiduciary Duty

James Kwak | Bull Market | 8th January 2015

Corporate law in five minutes. Company directors have two statutory obligations. They must pay attention to what the company is doing. They must be "loyal". Apart from that, it's up to them. They have no statutory duty to maximise the profits or the share price. Even if you think they do have such an obligation, "they can still choose any course of action that is plausibly related to that goal over any time period they choose" (1,360 words)

Video of the day: Genius Expo

What to expect: Celtic-style folk music with psychedelic visuals (4')

Thought for the day

Everything that is exact is short
Joseph Joubert

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