[LINK] Points, lines & curves
david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Sun Feb 13 09:30:15 AEDT 2011
> We all see the world through different lenses. How do YOU see things? Try answering this:
> It's 12:00pm and there are a few rats in a room. The population of rats doubles every minute. After one hour, at 1:00pm, the room is entirely filled up with rats.
> At what time was the room half-full?
> What is your answer? What time was the room half-filled with rats?
> Let's take an important diversion that, even though it talks of "investors," is relevant to our discussion:
> A wise mutual fund manager suggested there are three kinds of investors--and they look at the world in either "points", "lines" or "curves". The "point people" need well-defined starting points and don't deal well with abstract and dynamic concepts. They'd say that the rat question was incomplete and they would ask for more information. As investors they look at a fixed point in time or a fixed point in a growth curve and make decisions based on that point. They're also very weak with forecasts.
> "Line people" are a little better. "Line people" are most likely to guess that the room of rats was filled at 12:30pm. They can make linear approximation and are good at situations where the past is a consistent predictor of the future. This is the majority of investors.
> But unfortunately, such linear progress represents only the minority of situations. The past is very rarely a good predictor of the future. For example, in the case of our rats, remember that "the population of rats doubles every minute," which is far faster than merely linear growth.
> Which brings us to the "curve people". These are the rarities. These are the non-linear, out-of-the-box thinkers who understand exponential curves, compound growth rates and why the king got suckered in the fictional legend of how Chess was invented (you remember: the inventor asked the king for a "simple" reward-- a mere grain of rice on the first square, two on the 2nd, four on the 3rd and so on, until he'd bankrupted the king).
> Back to the rats -- the correct answer to this riddle that began at 12:00pm, is that the room was half full -- at 12:59pm.
> One minute before 1:00pm, there were half as many rats as there would be at 1:00pm.
In the NBN debate, it seems to me that curve people are the ones who see
the logic - and ultimate economy - in fibre.
There are lessons here on our understanding of human population, water,
air & soil degradation and global warming, but they're debates for other
David Boxall | "Cheer up" they said.
| "Things could be worse."
http://david.boxall.id.au | So I cheered up and,
| Sure enough, things got worse.
| --Murphy's musing
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