Monday, November 30, 2009

In simple terms

Just happened to catch a smidge of Science Friday the day after Thanksgiving, when they were covering the IgNobel prizes, to much hilarity. Also included was a couple of "24/7" speeches, in which world experts summarize their fields, first giving a "complete technical description" in 24 seconds, and then following that with a "clear summary than anyone can understand" in 7 words. Great people, entertaining exercise. My favorite was from Paul Krugman. From the NPR transcript, his summary of economics:
Decentralized constrained optimization by maximizing agents with well-defined convex objective functions and/or convex production functions, engaging in exchange and production with free disposal, leads, in the absence of externalities, market power, and other distortions, to convergence on equilibrium characterized by Pareto optimality.
Greedy people, competing, make the world go round.
Even granting the extra word in part II, hilarious, and a bit telling on why experts can get so deep into their heads that they lose track of reality. . .

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