Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Course message board

There is a homework due this morning.

The single most popular post on the course message board occurred last night.

1:10am: "do we have to finish the problem set even though Trump is winning? we have no will to continue."

Follow-up comments throughout the night:
  • "please, I second."
  • "Well with the way things are going, will there really be a GPA left for this to ruin anyway? "
  • "fourth'd. why is this happening."
  • "Murica is now NP Complete"
  • "Please Lila"
  • "make my GPA great again"
  • "Not gpa that doesn't matter right now as much as general health and sanity"
  • "not that wall street doesn't matter as much as minority citizens"
  • "please reply, we're crying"
My reply upon waking: "It is very important to be educated, as this election highlights." We'll see if  I can remain as anodyne in my not-on-the-permanent-and-searchable-record aloud delivery of lecture this morning.

I'm considering scrapping my network flow lecture to discuss social choice theory and voting (lecture tentatively titled: "Arrow's impossibility theorem, or how math is the reason why we can't have nice things"). On the other hand, the problems we face in the real world are usually not theoretical problems of design and feasibility, but implementation detail problems (e.g., how to check election results) and issues arising from grandfathered-in historical systems which had no rational design to begin with.

This post's theme word is peripeteia (noun), "a sudden or unexpected change of fortune, especially in a literary work. A classic example is Oedipus learning about his parentage." Too crushed by peripeteia for cleverness, the characters shouted "I want out of this novel!" in a fourth-wall-breakingly desperate plea for clemency.

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