Olympic mathematics

More Olympic mathematics: from the arxiv blog, statisticans predict the number of olympic records that will fall at London 2012. The paper is A survival analysis of the duration of Olympic records, by Elliott Hollifield, Victoria Treviño, and Adam Zarn.

Jordan Ellenberg explains the genius of the new (in 2008) gymnastics scoring system. If I may summarize: gymnastics doesn’t naturally have some right wall of performance, so why act like it does?

I’m actually watching the women’s all-around gymnastics final right now. There are eight teams in it, and four pieces of apparatus, so obviously turns have to be taken; therefore at any given time each team will have performed the same number of routines, but not necessarily on the same apparatus. And since different teams are strong on different apparatus, this means that saying “X is ahead of Y” is a bit meaningless. If gymnastics had a bigger following someone would have worked out how to correct for this and tell me who’s really in the lead, given their remaining events and how they’ve performed historically in them. (I had the same thought during the individual medley in swimming yesterday; at some point one person was well behind but the commentators said that they’d probably come back on the last leg because the last leg was their best stroke, and if I recall correctly that turned out to be true.)

Why am I sitting here at nine in the morning watching the Olympics? Because I’m looking for a job, in the SF Bay Area. See my linkedin profile.

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