I came across an interesting talk by Google’s Peter Norvig at NASA.
Of course, you should listen to the talk – let me blog about a couple of points that are of interest to me:
Algorithms that get better with Data
Peter had two good points:
- Algorithms behave differently as they churn thru more data. For example in the figure, the Blue algorithm was better with a million training dataset. If one had stopped at that scale, one would be tempted to optimize that algorithm for better performance
- But as the scale increased, the purple algorithm started showing promise – in fact the blue one starts deteriorating at larger scale. The old adage “don’t do premature optimization” is true here as well.
- In general, Google prefers algorithms that get better with data. Not all algorithms are like that, but Google likes to go after the ones with this type of performance characteristic.
There is no serendipity in Google Search or Google Translate
- There is no serendipity in search – it is just rehashing. It is good for finding things, but not at all useful for understanding, interpolation & ultimately inference. I think Intelligent Search is an oxymoron ;o)
- Same with Google Translate. Google Translate takes all it’s cue from the web – it wouldn’t help us communicate with either the non-human inhabitants of this planet or any life form from other planets/milky ways.
- In that sense, I am a little disappointed with Google’s Translation Engines. OTOH, I have only a minuscule view of the work at Google.
The future of human-machine & Augmented Cognition
And, don’t belong to the B-Ark !
Team USA’s win was very impressive – coming back from an 8-1 deficit, with 2 penalty points, and winning with 8-9 was spectacular, indeed!
Naturally corporate leaders everywhere are asking the questions – How did the team achieve this against an equally versatile and talented opponent? What heroic efforts did the team take ? How did the leads motivate the team to stage such a win ?
Interestingly, simplicity is the key
A thought-provoking article by @juliasulek “America’s Cup: Oracle’s ‘secret weapon’ to pull off historic comeback was largely bluster” has some illuminating answers.
5. Reengineer & Redesign your equipment, processes & services based on real-life learning’s from the marketplace
During Race 5, Oracle had started strong and was leading but fell apart as it rounded the leeward mark and tanked on the upwind leg
- They made a few design changes to the 130 foot tall wing sail, adding more curvature down low and more twist on the top.
- The fine tuning of the win trim control was done over time, incorporating the learnings from the races
4. Reduce to the bare essentials (ie keep your drag minimum)
- The team realized that they need to reduce the drag. They shorted the central spine of the boat, removing the bowsprit to reduce drag
3. Regroup & Rethink (ie Sail the boat differently)
- The biggest change, came from the crew
We started sailing the boat differently
Even we were surprised how the subtle changes were so significant in the performance of the boat. But we changed the way the guys actually sailed the boat. It took us three or four days to do that properly
- Even after making the structural changes after Race 5, the team lost 2 more races. … but they were a little more confident with our speed
- They achieved a knot more speed after the changes. But the most improvement was the learning by the team that created the winning spirit
We were able to keep learning. In the end, that was the deciding factor
1. Winning Spirit, Confidence & Pep Talk
- The Skipper (Jimmy Spithill) maintained confidence that a come back is possible
- Kinley Fowler, one of their sail trimmers who had injured his back and couldn’t race, entertained the crew each morning with his own Australian brand of pep talk.
Lots of laughs at difficult moments !
And that worked ! Lessons, we all can incorporate into our corporate projects !
[Update 10/6/13] Comments from Justin Tsao : Lesson 0 -To do the Impossible, you must bend the Impossible (rule wise).
Today, my son (who is just 14) pointed me to an insightful blog by Ben Horowitz of a16z.com.
Couple of interesting observations (Of course, I urge you to read the full blog):
- Technology business is extremely complex – a game of chess rather than checkers
- Interestingly another partner at a16z.com, Scott Weiss also referred to a successful entrepreneur “laying out a series of chess moves that reveal an even bigger ambition” in a recent Wall Street blog
- When you are in a turn, focus on the road not on the walls !
Be strong & you will get through, with a little help + a dash of luck
Finally, I am glad to see that folks like Ben are interesting to the young generation … Kaushik (the son) has been encouraging me to start a company … May be I will …
Ref: Image from Microsoft Gallery