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Gill Eapen
Works at Decision Options, LLC
Attended University of Chicago
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Gill Eapen

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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/05/downward-sloping-cognition.html#axzz3aRGoRePD

Humans, apparently on top of the mammals’ evolutionary chain, appear to lack some basic cognitive capabilities, as exhibited by their distant cousins- rats. A recent article in Animal Cognition describes advanced cognitive capabilities in rats that unilaterally lend a helping paw to another who may be sinking in water. This instinctual reaction appears to supersede food based reward, a dominant aspect of mammal life.

Evolution, held sacred by scientists as a sure way to higher intelligence and cognition, has to be rethought. It appears that tactical advantages gained by random mutations are more likely to create freak systems – such as humans. If there is a physical reason for life – such as accelerated entropy, it does make sense at the macro level. Systems that are able to think many different permutations and combinations to enhance entropy, will be selected and humans certainly fit the bill. The organ they carry on their shoulders, certainly helped them to invent fire and they have been burning everything they could find for over 100 thousand years. And burning, certainly, is a sure way to increase entropy.

Somewhere along this evolutionary cycle, humans, seem to have picked up some bad habits – such as observations, societal formation and learning. These traits are certainly against the prescribed objectives and will be deselected if the objective function is indeed very clean and includes only positively sloped entropy. Since rats appear to be significantly less efficient than humans to accelerate entropy, it is clear that the forward momentum of evolution will likely correct for any random noise that was introduced such as empathy, knowledge and the desire for better societies.

Humans, a dominant evolutionary construct, have been efficient in optimizing a simple objective function – accelerate entropy at any cost. And the laws of physics indicate that they will get more efficient at it over time.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/05/the-cost-of-thinking.html#axzz3ZgVIa9V1

A recent article from MIT (1) argues that consumers’ decision processes in the retail arena, replete with confusing choices and an overabundance of brands, are dominated by an “indexing strategy.” To reach a decision, consumers may be indexing (or utilizing a bundle of proxies to compare) rather than conducting an exhaustive search as such an optimization process could have high cognitive costs. If true, this finding has implications for companies in the retail arena for product design, promotions, delivery and pricing.

First, it opens up a dimension in the psyche of the consumer, that makes analyzing decisions more complex for the observer (retailer) even though it simplifies the process for the consumer. In a world of a large number of close substitutes for any product or service, a consumer with a preference for minimizing cognitive cost, will only consider a subset of products, that is not necessarily obvious to the retailer. As the consumer “indexes” against an unknown subset of substitutes, she will likely consider all aspects of comparability – as the simplified process allows her to do so, in the comfort of an already reduced cognitive cost. Ironically, these attributes may include both physical and virtual aspects – with differing weights, making it very difficult for the retailer to define “competition,” in a world of interacting product definitions.

Second, status-quo strategies that may include price discounting, bundling and couponing, may have a longer lasting effect on the “indexing strategy,” followed by the consumer. Such tactics by the retailer could move the brand away or closer to the indexing bundle, used by the consumer. Although the impact of such strategies on the near term decisions of the consumer is ambiguous, it does increase the complexity of optimizing such strategies. And, finally, retailers who have a rigid view as to “who their competition is,” may find themselves drifting – as the consumer preferences and retailing tactics may enroll or remove them from the proxy bundles considered by the consumer.

Retailers may have to move away from long held views on the competitive landscape and tactics that may have brought customers to their doorstep in the past. Flexible and dynamic strategies in design, delivery and pricing may be needed to win the consumer indexing game.

(1) The brain in the supermarket, Published: Friday, March 27, 2015 - 11:33 in Mathematics & Economics, Science News

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2015/03/27/the.brain.supermarket



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3YdqSG0sg

Research from LMU in Munich attempts to test if quantum particles, such as bosons, follow prescriptions of game theory, a well established concept in economics. This is in a favorable direction as it may simplify quantum behavior by using constructs from macro systems. The incentives for bosons to be on the same wavelength as their neighbors is akin to incentives present in human interactions. And, if a simple objective function, such as profits or wealth maximization can be found for quantum particles, then, their behavior could well be predicted by economic theory. It has been noted that, at the extreme, the Bose-Einstein condensate behaves like a single super particle. It is conceivable that if such behavior is universal, it has implications for design for truly advanced societies. 

The divergence of the behavior of quantum systems from human scale systems has been problematic not only for physicists but also for amateurs who seek simplification. Intuition seems to point to missing attributes or perhaps a completely wrong theory. If quantum behavior could be explained by those seen in bigger systems, then the chance of survival increases for the theory itself. However, this implicitly assumes that bigger systems are a natural progression of quantum ones and most available information seems to refute such a notion. Engineering bias force scientists and technologists to a unified theory – from parts to the whole - and it is quite possible that multiple universes with differing laws exist within the observable one in human scale.

Whatever the reality, the notion of explaining quantum behavior using larger systems is intriguing. If this is possible, such behavior could provide direction for better designs of human systems as well.

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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3XiEpMwsQ

Recent news that NASA’s WISE orbiting observatory found no tell-tale signs of advanced societies in 100,000 galaxies studied, is a constant reminder that ET is likely more advanced than the big brains at the space agency. Blindly following the speculation made more than 50 years ago, that mid-infrared emissions in a Galaxy could be indicative of a dominant civilization of galactic scope, the engineers seem to have gotten it wrong, yet again.

And they will get it wrong many times in this century. An advanced society is one that does not emit radiation, something that does not show up in the archaic instruments created by the least interesting species in the universe. An advanced society is one that will have no intention to dominate, let alone “conquer” the resources offered by a galaxy. Stupid humans, driven by ego and materialism, seem to be assuming that “domination,” is hard-wired into intelligent life. Intelligence is least likely to be about “cornering resources,” and an advanced society is one that will leave no tell-tale signs or bread crumbs for the stupid to detect them.

Radiation seeking humans, constantly looking for TV programs to tune into from other galaxies, will be left sorely disappointed. If ET exists, it will absolutely assure that there will be no “contact.” After all, who would like to contact a species, that burns fossil fuels in a limited green house they are afforded, constantly fighting and killing each other for irrational belief systems and fleeting wealth, segment themselves into color, geography, language and physical proportions, cast a blind eye to those with poor initial conditions and completely incompetent in advancing knowledge.

ET has fascinated many – but it will likely remain a fascination.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/04/engineers-discover-probabilities.html#axzz3XWrxNMda

Recent news that MIT engineers have finally discovered probabilities is heartening news. A “probabilistic programming language,” they “invented” appears to be quite competitive to conventional systems for vision and cognition. It is always better to arrive late rather than not at all. Determinism, the bane of engineering, has kept many bright minds back for long.

There have been weak attempts at the same may decades before. After the hype of Artificial Intelligence waned in the towering institutions of the East and the West in the 80s, some feeble attempts at programming in logic surfaced in unknown quarters. Such programming was all about probabilities – and it had no prescriptive GoTo statements. The originators underestimated the wrath of engineers – who generally knew everything there is to know. Prolog was shown the grave before it arrived.

Machine learning, the latest hype, has some potential – but not in the hands of engineers with deterministic education. Perhaps, the next generation can leave the legacy of ego and ignorance behind and really make something happen.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3WIE4Jrjl

Stopping time appears to have several advantages. The trick is the modality of stoppage. If time is stopped with an incremental move, say a day, and then repeated in an infinite loop and if information transfer is allowed at the boundaries, then knowledge can increase infinitely. Biological systems, with a hard expiry date, have been inefficient in the transfer of information across space-time. The Fermi paradox is an important notion in this context. Biology, appears to be highly inferior to systems that perpetuate – either through time or space.

Search for extra-terrestrial life does not make any sense in this vein. An advanced society is most likely to harness gravity and stop time rather than travel across space or even show themselves on Radar. The epitome of modern transportation – humans packed like sardines in an aluminum can with wings – should provide a hint that travel is the least of things an advanced society would do. The idiots with the telescope and antennas in the heart of Silicon Valley never asked why an advanced society will show themselves to their inferior finding techniques. My tax dollars are better spent elsewhere.

Humans, the least likely species to search the heavens for their next of kin, may be getting ahead of themselves. the fact that they found a toy to scan the skies, does not mean that it is the best use of their time.



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Gill Eapen

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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/05/seeing-is-not-believing.html#axzz3aA5FbYcO

Experimentalism and empiricism, corner stones of modern scientific exploration, have substantially dampened step-function changes in knowledge addition in almost every field. In economics, availability of metrics and statistics in abundance have kept academics, spending most of their careers proving the established theories. In Physics, the ability to generate data at will with heavy machines has kept any innate creativity bottled up. In life sciences, manufacturers, staffed with conventional statisticians and a regulatory regime with little understanding of risk management have assured that breakthrough drugs are yesterday’s story.

It is a perfect storm. As a vanishing generation, steeped in qualitative and non-scientific processes of information gathering is bombarded by another, trained to see and analyze data, we are left with little hope to advance knowledge. For the former, data do not matter and for the latter, it appears, only data matter. Neither can be further from the truth. From a societal perspective, one has to worry less about the former as they are checking out from the ecosystem. But, it is problematic to see educational systems, world-over are catering to processes that start from data and not knowledge. The implicit assumption of modern science, that experimentalism and associated empiricism are necessary conditions for the creation and establishment of theories, is fundamentally incorrect.

If we create a society, enslaved to data and thus prone to considering experimentalism and empiricism as the primary tools to generate and advance knowledge, we are doomed.



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For an even more literal meaning to that, watch Pay Attention! on Netflix or even YouTube.
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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3Z7CqrWBs

Statistical significance has let many industries down and built fortunes for many, riding their luck. A recent paper from Duke University explains what most non-statisticians and non-financiers always knew. Models that do not make practical sense are unlikely to work. Industries on top of the modern economy, those who attract the best and the brightest – physics, medicine and finance – have been playing with statistical fire, discovering and proving everything there is – some for money and others for fame. As the Duke paper points out, almost any hypothesis could be proven by a sufficiently large number of trials. And proving hypotheses is front and center for any “scientific profession.”

In this context, it may be interesting to make the following predictions:

1. LHC : If 6 trillion trillion collisions are made and the data analyzed, LHC could prove God exists. Just 6 trillion was enough to find the “God particle” within 5 sigma. This is a good experiment. Proving God exists may solve many of the vexing problems faced by humanity.

2. SETI : If an antenna is provided to every roof top in the world and the “search” accelerated by a billion times, SETI could prove ET with pointy ears, a cone head and red white and blue stripes across the body exists in some distant galaxy.

3. Wall Street : If the number of idiots trading securities back and forth every day is increased by an order of magnitude, Wall street could create somebody who wins on every trade for 10 years running.

Statistics, the “science” that is foundational for “accelerating knowledge” of humanity, may singlehandedly bring knowledge-seekers to a standstill in the presence of “big data.”



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3YQgyQBh1

A recent commentary in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, highlights most academics and those less academic, already knew – the need and desire to publish is a disease, aided by “plagiarism, fraud and predatory publishing.” Academics – held sacred by a vanishing few – now means brutal business and what comes out is mostly noise, stolen materials and joint incompetence. The acceleration seen in “academic publishing,” is a clear indication that the quality has declined and more importantly the authors mostly rely on a patchwork of stolen materials and ideas.

This is unfortunate. Knowledge creation, still the only attribute that marginally differentiates humans and animals, has been on the decline for decades. Information and noise, mistakenly attributed to knowledge by technologists, have been creating havoc. The “data explosion,” and the ever eluding “singularity,” have kept the precious little brain cells away from advancing knowledge. To top it all off, the ambassadors of knowledge creation have been busy plagiarizing and creating irrelevant publications.

Misaligned incentives, aided by limited time horizons of knowledge seekers, are likely to assure that humans will continue the rat race in a maze with no exits.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/04/stuck-in-weeds.html#axzz3XiEpMwsQ

Yet another policy choice and the reaction of our fearless leaders to it, show the level of ignorance and incompetence the country has to get over before it can advance further. The magic leaf has been with humans for thousands of years and it shows significant medical advantages already. Because of its status, research has been dampened and we have a large number of people sitting in jail for a crime because of legalese. Those who wear the badge of “free markets,” elsewhere should engage in introspection and remove the inconsistencies in their policy choices.

In addition to the limits, there has to be education and competence requirements for people who want to legislate. I do not mean “self certification,” but hard constraints including exams that politicians have to pass before they can run for important policy positions. The gap between the current generation and the ones in Washington is big and it is getting bigger every passing day. If doctors, engineers and scientists have to demonstrate competence through structured tests, it is unclear why this is not the case for those who could have profound impact on a large number of people. Educational Testing Services – please take note and design a PAT – Politics Admission Test – that could have weeded out the crop that is currently legislating.

Stuck in the weeds and frozen in time, our leaders are unlikely to move society to a better state.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/#axzz3Wx0egnFH

Recent research from Princeton that attempts to spin yet another particle – spinon – to “explain” frustrated magnets, is symptomatic of trying to fit existing (old) theories into observations. Contemporary education and learning institutions are so inflexible that they are simply unable to break away from tradition. If observations do not fit a theory, it is better to ask if the theory is right rather than incrementally attaching an error that is yet to be proven. Sure, writing papers are easier this way but it is unlikely to advance knowledge.

If magnets are not behaving as expected, it is ok to call them “frustrated.” But to hypothesize a particle that may explain such frustration is fiction. This is dangerous research  - as experience tells us that, once “speculated,” it shall be “proven” in Physics – either by unachievable mathematics or by generating mind numbing noise from experiments. It is ironic that there has been only a single individual for over hundred years who could create a framework to think in Physics.

Educational institutions, world over, adept at producing “bricks in the wall,” graduates – engineers, scientists and doctors – prisoners of the status-quo, have to rethink – and quick.



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http://www.scientificsense.com/2015/03/the-habitable-zone.html#axzz3UykS18Xc


Friday, March 20, 2015

A recent publication in the “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,” uses “heavy Mathematics,” to show that there could be billions of stars in the milky way alone with multiple planets in the “habitable zone,” defined as the existence of “acceptable” temperatures with the possibility of water. Humans, are funny animals – with all their brain power and scientific knowledge, they are perfectly happy extrapolating from a single observation. The embarrassing use of Mathematics in the calculation of the probability of life in the Milky Way itself, that appears to be indistinguishable from 1.0, may surface many questions.

High energy Physics, not significantly different from fiction, is clinging to century old theories, that explain less than 4% of the observations. Meanwhile, ego driven space administrations, are on the edge, not being able to prove extra-terrestrial life, something they strongly feel should have been done by now. The tiny slice of space-tine, handed to humans, apparently is not a constraint for the big brains, who have adroitly forecasted the arrival of green women in less than twenty years, albeit, the proof could be less compelling than the “encounters of the fourth kind.” Meanwhile, the famous one in England, worried about the green variety life not being friendly, strongly admonishes against the search for the same. Clearly, there is content here befitting day time soap.

The only known habitable zone, a quirk in space time, could be easily destroyed before its occupants find another.



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Work
Occupation
Managing Principal
Skills
Strategic planning, valuation, economics
Employment
  • Decision Options, LLC
    Chairman, 2000 - present
  • Charles River Associates
    Vice President, 2010 - 2011
  • Pfizer
    Group Director, 1997 - 2000
  • Deloitte
    Senior Manager, 1994 - 1997
  • Hewlett-Packard
    Strategy Intern, 1993 - 1993
  • ABB
    Senior Consultant, 1986 - 1992
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Currently
Groton, CT
Previously
Chicago, IL - Dallas, TX - Atlanta, GA - Chennai, India - Kochi, India
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Decision Options
Introduction

Gill Eapen has two decades of experience in strategy, finance, risk and general management. Mr. Eapen’s past experience includes senior positions at fortune 100 companies, consulting and private equity firms. He has consulted for over five dozen companies worldwide in diverse industries, including life sciences, energy, aerospace, high technology and consumer goods. In 2000, he founded Decision Options, a pioneer in economic value based decision making, risk, and portfolio management. Decision Options also managed a Long/Short US Equity fund that used proprietary analytics and risk management principles to generate significant alpha.

Currently, he is the chairman of Decision Options. Previously he was an executive at Charles River Associates, a Boston based advisory services firm. Before that, he was a member of the R&D leadership team at Pfizer, responsible for the planning of the entire R&D portfolio including internal allocation of capital and external assessments of business development deals. Before that he was engagement manager at Deloitte Consulting. Mr. Eapen is a CFA charter holder, a member of the Boston Society of Security Analysts, author of two management text-books (Decision Options & Flexibility) and a frequent speaker in conferences worldwide. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree from Indian Institute of Technology.

Bragging rights
Author, Decision Options, Flexibility & Scientific Sense
Education
  • University of Chicago
    Economics, 1992 - 1992
  • Northwestern Unvesrity
    Engineering, 1985 - 1986
  • Indian Institute of Technology
    Engineering, 1980 - 1985
  • Christ College
    Science, 1978 - 1980
  • RM High School
    Science, 1972 - 1978
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Male