Ed Thorp, professor blackjack

From NPR : Ed Thorp was the first 'quant', the first person to make mathematical analysis and statistics the center of his investing. But he only got there because of a card game. As a young man, Ed Thorp was a mathematician doing pretty much what you'd expect a mathematician to do: teaching, studying, trying to solve hard problems. There was one particular problem that nobody else had been able to solve. He wanted to come up with a mathematical system to beat the casino at blackjack.

Google's rules of machine learning - Martin Zinkevich

Rules of machine learning: best practices for machine learning engineering [pdf], by Martin Zinkevich

From oreilly.com : Hard-won lessons, good advice for avoiding mistakes, and rules of thumb. Eg: The number of feature weights you can learn in a linear model is roughly proportional to the amount of data you have.

Lasers activate killer instinct in genetically engineered mice

From Cell : Jawed vertebrates possess superior predatory skills; however, the neurobiology of predatory behavior remains an area of ongoing research. In this issue, Han et al. (pp. 311–324) use a combination of opto- and chemo-genetic tools to identify two neuronal pathways emanating in the central amygdala that coordinate behaviors for efficient predatory hunting - namely the ability to capture prey and to deliver fatal bites—

More information here. Full-text.

U.S. military launches 103 perdix swarm mini-drones from F/A-18 Super Hornets

From MIT Tech Review : What’s small, fast, and is launched from the bottom of a fighter jet? Not missiles, but a swarm of drones. U.S. military officials have announced that they’ve carried out their largest ever test of a drone swarm released from fighter jets in flight. In the trials, three F/A-18 Super Hornets released 103 Perdix drones, which then communicated with each other and went about performing a series of formation flying exercises that mimic a surveillance mission.

The test, conducted in October 2016 and documented on Sunday’s CBS News program “60 Minutes”, consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing. [60 Minutes link 01 ] [60 Minutes link 02 ]

Lawrence Levy - the never-before-told story of Pixar's improbable success

From Youtube : “Hi, Lawrence?” the caller asked. “This is Steve Jobs. I saw your picture in a magazine a few years ago and thought we’d work together someday.” After Steve Jobs was unceremoniously dismissed from Apple, he turned his attention to a little-known graphics art company that he owned called Pixar.

One day, out of the blue, Jobs called Lawrence Levy, a Harvard-trained lawyer and Silicon Valley executive to whom he had never spoken before, in the hope of persuading Levy to help him get Pixar on the right track. What Levy found in Pixar was a company on the verge of failure. To Pixar and Beyond is the extraordinary story of what happened next: How Levy, working closely with Jobs and the Pixar team, produced and implemented a highly improbable roadmap that transformed the sleepy graphics art studio into one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories. Set in the worlds of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, the book takes readers inside Pixar, Disney, law firms, and investment banks. It provides an up-close, first-hand account of Pixar’s stunning ascent, how it took risks, Levy’s enduring collaboration and friendship with Jobs, and how Levy came to see in Pixar deeper parallels that apply to all aspects of our lives.

How we know where we are - Richard Morris

From The Life Scientific : How do we know where we are? The question sounds simple enough. But there's much more to it than simply looking around. Our sense of place is embedded in the very structure of our brains, in such a way that we can remember the exact place we used to play as a child, even if the neighbourhood has been transformed and few of the original visual cues remain. The park you played in as a child may now be full of high rise flats but somehow you know where your favourite tree used to be.

Richard Morris has devoted his Life Scientific to trying to understand this profound sense of place and in 2016 was awarded the prestigious Brain Prize for his work on brain cells and circuits. Over the years, he's performed thousands of of experiments on rats in water mazes, an experimental tool that he invented in the eighties and that's now used in labs all over the world. And, in one of his latest experiments, he set up a rat restaurant.

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