Big Fish in a Smaller Pond

Source: HBR, Jul 2016

According to the study, if two universities of similar size are similarly selective, the university with the better regional rank will attract more firms to recruit there, and its graduates will earn more money. In other words, if you want to work at an elite firm, going to Harvard is less important than going to the “Harvard” of your region.

Weinstein’s study found that students’ earnings can be quite high if they attend the most selective school in their region. His study also is relevant to student loan interest rates, which may be tied to school quality. And his findings support incentivizing students to attend a school with a high regional rank even if its national rank is lower.

Open Innovation Enables Service Platforms

Source: MIT Technology Review, May 2016

how innovation plays out in service businesses. Most of the top 40 economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) get half or more of their gross domestic product (GDP) from that sector, and many companies are witnessing a shift to services as well.

More generally for services, innovation must negotiate a tension between standardization and customization. The former allows activities to be repeated many times with great efficiency, spreading the fixed costs of those activities over many transactions. The latter allows each customer to get what he or she wants for high personal satisfaction. The problem is that standardization denies customers much of what they prefer, while customization undermines the efficiencies available from standardization.

The resolution to this dichotomy is to construct service platforms, which invite others to build on top of your own platform offering. This allows economies to emerge from the standardization of the platform, and it creates customization through the addition of many others to the platform.

A fundamental premise of open innovation is that “not all the smart people work for you.” That means that there’s more value in creating the architecture that connects technologies in useful ways to solve real problems than there is in creating yet another technological building block. System architecture, the system integration skill to combine pieces in useful ways, becomes even more valuable in a world where there are so many building blocks that can be brought together for any particular purpose.

Curiosity & Creativity Benefit Humanity

Source: Straits Times, Jan 2016

Other vivid examples in his lecture bore witness to the power of beautiful things in inspiring the mind of the mathematician. Like the beautiful and complex shapes of corals in the sea that actually follow very simple mathematical rules.

Drawing connections between seemingly far-flung subjects is a hallmark of Prof Villani’s.

He also gives talks overseas to expound the beauty and value of maths and science to audiences from Asia to Africa, helping to propagate the culture of curiosity and creativity so vital to humanity.

As a doctoral student in the 1990s, he derived intellectual nourishment from five different advisers contributing a delectable buffet of insights that deepened and broadened his understanding of the subject.

Stay Eternally Optimistic

Source: Asian Scientist, Jan 2016

Using the analogy of Lego bricks, Negishi described his vision for organic synthesis—he wanted to synthesize complex chemical compounds from basic starting materials in a fuss-free manner, such as how one can build virtually anything from Lego bricks.

… the importance of optimism in scientific research. “This is how I eventually got the Nobel Prize, with eternal optimism. Never get discouraged. Keep working,” he said.

1993 Marathon Time: 5 hours 44 minutes

My 1993 marathon completion certificate: 5 hours 44 minutes!



Mathematics is In Everything

Source: Asian Scientist, Jan 2016

These days, Lamport wants to impart the following message to programmers: using mathematics allows you to approach coding in the way an architect would approach designing a building—both precisely and abstractly.

“Science requires precise thinking, and mathematics is what has developed over a couple of millennia as our best way of thinking precisely,” he said.

Programmers are taught to think about problems in terms of programming languages when instead, he maintained, problems should also be thought of at a more abstract level. “Most programmers who lack [the ability to think abstractly], they just sit down and write code and it’s like somebody trying to build a table [without first thinking of] the concept of the circle. Just think, well, just cut out a piece of wood that’s sort of like this, with no idea why would cutting it out this way be better than cutting it out in a different way,” he explained.

Indeed, Lamport is adamant that programmers should think about and write down what a program is meant to do—its ‘blueprint’ or specification—before they actually start coding.

A mathematics-based programming language that Lamport designed, TLA+, is based on the idea that the best way to describe things formally is by using simple mathematics.

And you don’t even need to be a mathematician to execute his programming language, he said. “The math you need is really very simple. Most people learn almost all of it in high school these days. But what you need to be taught is how to use that math to describe the systems you’re building.” 

IOT: 20.8 billion connected things by 2020

Source: Gartner, Nov 2015

Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.

Gartner estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015. Services are dominated by the professional category (in which businesses contract with external providers in order to design, install and operate IoT systems), however connectivity services (through communications service providers) and consumer services will grow at a faster pace.