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My latest post covers a topic that is extremely pertinent to your work, emotionally connecting with data always is, but I bet it will be fun and inspiring to reflect on the 16 eclectic stories I share.

Check out... Create High-Impact Data Visualizations: Nine Effective Strategies: https://goo.gl/7pxmHr
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Portals + WiFi. Delays at the train stations may not be that bad after all 😄
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I recently had the privilege of teaching MBAs and EMBAs as a part of Prof La Blanc's Data Science and Data Strategy class at UCB's Haas School of Business.

As you can imagine the topic is near and dear to my heart. :) My goal focus was not on how to get more data and process it, but on three things to obsess about when it comes to strategic influence from data: Purpose, Persuasion and Possibilities. I wanted the students aim way, way higher.

While the lecture itself is private to the university, here's a seven minute video on Big Data, throwing mental anchors away and what it takes to truly use data to drive change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46LeIgAm0R0

I hope you'll find it insightful.

PS: Bonus Quote: Analytics is a lot more important than business leaders realize, and a lot less important than analytics people believe.
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My latest blog post contains 15 before-after examples with the goal of teaching how to tell better stories with data.

It's Not The Ink, It's The Think: 6 Effective Data Visualization Strategies https://goo.gl/wgfsyt

The post opens with why I believe most work by Analysts dies at the last mile, here are rules that follow:

1. Rebel against crapification via cluttering.
2. Don't fragment data, don't forget higher order bits.
3. Obsess with deleting information provided.
4. Don't run away, make the tough choices.
5. So what? So What?? So WHAT!
6. Shift your worldview to your client's.
+ But Wait, There's More! (Bonus Items)

I also have two examples that I invite you to fix and tell a better story with data! I'll post the best entries back to the post.

Please participate. Comment on the blog, https://goo.gl/wgfsyt, with your ideas, and send me your better after versions. Thanks.
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Tried quite a few UPI apps and this one's certainly the best. Simple, uncluttered UI and easy to set up. Did not expect a government app to be this polished... very impressed!

#GoCashlessIndia
Tried the BHIM app launched by the Government today. Great interface! Scan and pay! Best UPI app! Download from this link https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.org.npci.upiapp. You need an android phone. #GoCashlessIndia
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My latest blog post covers a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: "Rock Analytics More: Obsess About Goals And Goal Values!" http://goo.gl/Lqmo2K

We all obsess about bounce rates and visits and conversion rates and clicks, of course clicks. But, none of those metrics highlight the impact of your marketing and digital existence on your bottom-line!

This upsets me greatly. Especially because the solution is not all that difficult. In the post, I share five goals that I believe are mandatory for every type of website, and the six distinct benefits, types of analysis, you can do to get deeper insights.

Before you check out​ the post, get your proposal for a salary increase ready because once you implement these ideas, you are definitely getting one. : )

"Rock Analytics More: Obsess About Goals And Goal Values!" http://goo.gl/Lqmo2K

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A Last Gift from Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan is a legend of the mathematics world. The son of a shop clerk in rural India, he taught himself mathematics, primarily out of a book he borrowed from the library. The math that he did started out as rediscovering old results, and then became novel, and ultimately became revolutionary; he is considered to be one of the great minds of mathematical history, someone routinely mentioned in comparison with names like Gauss, Euler, or Einstein.

Ramanujan's work became known beyond his village starting in 1913, when he sent a letter to the British mathematician G. H. Hardy. Ramanujan had been spamming mathematicians with his ideas for a few years, but his early writing in particular tended to be rather impenetrable, of the sort that today I would describe as "proof by proctological extraction:" he would present a result which was definitely true, and you could check that it was true, but it was completely incomprehensible how he got it. But by the time he wrote to Hardy, both his clarity and the strength of his results had improved, and Hardy was simply stunned by what he saw. He immediately invited Ramanujan to come visit him in Cambridge, and the two became lifelong friends. 

Alas, his life was very short: Ramanujan died at age 32 of tuberculosis (or possibly of a liver parasite; recent research suggests this may have been his underlying condition), less than six years after his letter to Hardy.

When we talk about people whose early death was a tremendous loss to humanity, there are few people for whom it's as true as Ramanujan, and a recent discovery in his papers has just underlined why.

This discovery ties together two stories separated by centuries: The "1729" story, and the great mystery of Pierre Fermat's last theorem.

The 1729 story comes from a time that Hardy came to visit Ramanujan when he was ill. In Hardy's words: 

"I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. 'No', he replied, 'it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.'"

This has become the famous Ramanujan story (and in fact, 1729 is known to this day as the Hardy-Ramanujan Number), because it's just so ludicrously Ramanujan: he did have the reputation of being the sort of guy to whom you could mention an arbitrary four-digit number, and he would just happen to know (or maybe figure out on the spot) some profound fact about it, because he was just that much of a badass.

The other story is that of Fermat's Last Theorem. Pierre de Fermat was a 17th-century French mathematician, most famous for a theorem he didn't prove. In 1637, he jotted down a note in the margins of a book he had, about a generalization of the Pythagorean Theorem.

From Pythagoras, we know that the legs and hypotenuse of a right triangle are related by a²+b²=c². We also know that there are plenty of sets of integers that satisfy this relationship -- say, 3, 4, and 5. Fermat asked if this was true for higher powers as well: that is, when n>2, are there any integers a, b, and c such that aⁿ+bⁿ=cⁿ? He claimed that the answer was no, and that "he had a truly marvelous proof of this statement which was, unfortunately, too large to fit in this margin."

The consensus of mathematicians ever since is that Pierre de Fermat was full of shit: he had no such proof, and was bluffing.

In fact, this statement -- known as Fermat's Last Theorem, as his notes were only discovered after his death -- wasn't proven until 1995, when Andrew Wiles finally cracked it. Wiles' success was stunning because he didn't use any of the traditional approaches: instead, he took (and significantly extended) a completely unrelated-seeming branch of mathematics, the theory of elliptic curves, and figured out how to solve this. That theory is also at the heart of much of modern cryptography, not to mention several rather unusual bits of physics. (Including my own former field, string theory)


And so these two stories bring us to what just happened. A few months ago, two historians digging through Ramanujan's papers were amused to find the number 1729 on a sheet of paper: not written out as such, but hidden in the very formula which expresses that special property of the number, 9³+10³=12³+1. 

What turned this from a curiosity into a holy-crap moment was when the rest of the page, and the pages that went with it, suddenly made it clear that Ramanujan hadn't come up with 1729 at random: that property was a side effect of him making an attempt at Fermat's Last Theorem.

What Ramanujan was doing was looking at "almost-solutions" of Fermat's equation: equations of the form aⁿ+bⁿ=cⁿ±1. He had developed an entire mechanism of generating triples like these, and was clearly trying to use this to home in on a way to solve the theorem itself. In fact, the method he was using was precisely the method of elliptic curves which Wiles ended up using to successfully crack the theorem most of a century later.

What makes this completely insane is this: Wiles was taking a previously-separate branch of mathematics and applying it to a new problem.

But the theory of elliptic curves wasn't even invented until the 1940's.

Ramanujan was making significant progress towards solving Fermat's Last Theorem, using the mathematical theory which would in fact prove to be the key to solving it, while making up that entire branch of mathematics sort of in passing.

This is why Ramanujan was considered one of the greatest badasses in the history of mathematics. He didn't know about 1729 because his head was full of random facts; he knew about it because, oh yes, he was in the middle of doing yet another thing that might restructure math, but it didn't really solve the big problem he was aiming at so he just forgot about it in his stack of papers.

I shudder to imagine what our world would be like if Ramanujan had lived a longer life. He alone would probably have pushed much of mathematics ahead by 30 or 40 years.


If you want to know more about elliptic curves, Fermat, and how they're related, the linked article tells more, and links to more still. You can also read an outline of Ramanujan's life at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan , and about Fermat's Last Theorem (and why it's so important) at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_Last_Theorem .
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Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely, effectively rendering the jellyfish biologically immortal, although, in nature, most Turritopsis are likely to succumb to predation or disease in the medusa stage, without reverting to the polyp form 😮
Lifespans of the Animal Kingdom

I have a particular dislike for long, thin infographics that might be better as a simple table. But. There are always exceptions to the rule! :)

This is a very interesting listing of how long animals live. The "loser" is the Mayfly that only lives a few hours to a week. The "winner" is the, I kid you not, the immortal Jellyfish. Immortal.

The next coolest is the Ocean Quahog Clam, average 410 years. The oldest recorded was 507 years. Think about it. We have Clams older than America floating around the world right now!

Close to us, but older, are the Indian Elephant, Killer Whale and Condor Vulture. Nice collection there. :)

It is interesting to look at the breakdown by Insects, Mammals, Reptiles, Aquatic and Birds to see patterns.

Source: https://goo.gl/ADHzoa
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