The United States is about to spend a good bit of time worrying about the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It’s a good distraction from the women’s basketball tournament and from the National Invitational Tournament. Last year I used this to write a couple essays that stepped into information theory. Nobody knowledgeable in information theory has sent me threatening letters since. So since the inspiration is back in season I’d like to bring them to your attention again:
- How Interesting Is A Basketball Tournament?, the starting point, laying out how we measure one game’s interestingness and go on to 63 games from that.
- What We Talk About When We Talk About How Interesting What We’re Talking About Is, which wasn’t just written because of how much fun a title that was. It introduced this whole “bit” concept.
- But How Interesting Is A Real Basketball Tournament? Because I started out assuming that games were perfectly even match ups either team was likely to win. This isn’t so. If we grant that a number-16 seed is almost sure to lose to a number-1 seed, how does the information content change?
- But How Interesting Is A Basketball Score? We’re not just interested in who wins a basketball game. We’re interested in how much they win by. So what’s that?
- Doesn’t The Other Team Count? How Much? The previous essay worked out the information content of one team’s score. What about the second team’s score?
- A Little More Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About How Interesting What We Talk About Is, because who can resist a title construction like that? Anyway, this puts in some more vocabulary.
Do soccer next! lol
The fact that just one goal could win a game, it must be mathematically quite interesting, or not.
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I’d be glad to, actually. The calculations aren’t hard. It’s gathering the data, the number of times any particular score’s come up, that’s the challenge. I’m fortunate that my particular sports statistic mania is baseball, which has a century and a half of obsessive detail on everything. It’s such a rich field.
Anyway, if you — or anyone — knows of a record of how many times the various possible goal counts have come up, I’d be glad to work out the information content of a game’s score.
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Love the layout of this, gives the reader a choice of topic and acts as an index!
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Well, thank you. I have a tendency to write a connected set of essays and then fail to make a unifying page like this that makes it easier for people to know whether they’ve read it all. I should assemble more like it. It’s good for new readers and probably also my Google page ranking.
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It also gives a useful summary of what’s to come. Reminds me that I don’t always give enough attention to my opening sentences/paragraphs.
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The open and the close are the worst. When I go about my day I have fine stirring mid-essay paragraphs floating all around me. It’s how to get to them, and how to resolve them, that stump me.
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The openings I hate are things like, ‘You can have sex with me, if you like. Not really, but now I’ve got your attention …’
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