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Monday, October 31, 2005

By the Numb3rs

So, stuck in a hotel at the end of a conference burned out, I catch Numb3rs, the criminal investigation series shown at 10pm on fridays on one of the TLA channels.

It is a not bad "catch the bad guys" series. Hero #1 is an FBI agents, Hero #2 is his brother who is a Caltech mathematician genius type (scenes are shot at Caltech and the math advisor is at Caltech math dept). Not bad, the math is about as good as you're ever going to get on network television. It is of course overhyped and impossibly urgent, but the basic concepts are typicall spot on.

So, this week they were trying to track a stealth plane from multiple noisy radar detections ('fraid it was a terrorist planning to attack a Clippers game, if I understand the setting!?! turned out to be a whacky loner instead, whatever).
So, to extract the trajectory they run a noise extraction algorithm, as it happens the BS they use was realistic. To do it they borrow a colleagues Beowulf (which, correctly transposed, makes the refugee from the Fox Boston law show Tom Prince!!!) - instant BS alert here, btw, the FBI can access at zero notice federal hardware that would blow any private beowulf cluster out of the water, though I suppose you can make a concession for the "that's the one the software was written for..."

But! The colleague is mildly upset, because he thought there were going to run a gravitational radiation signal extractor!

YES! That's going mainstream.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Britton said...

If I recall correctly, they find the busted-up, flying thingy lodged in a junkyard, making it possibly the only place a UFO could crash and not be reported.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

Hmm...we watched an episode in Calc last year after the AP test. Wasn't too bad. Something about using exponential functions to model serial murders...hehe. Oh, mathematics, what can't you do?

9:38 PM  

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