Tuesday, February 10, 2009


So I found my groove in the unlikeliest of places. Pittsburgh. Sometime on my way to Duquesne Incline and back, I realized that I wanted to write (again). Not necessarily about my trip itself, but just write. It is like how I realized suddenly on my twenty-fourth birthday that all I ever want to do on a daily basis is science. It keeps me content, fidgety, thinking and constantly evaluating my intelligence.
That said, I'm going to pick up right where I left off.

The Zeroth Law of Graduatics.

I am not a lazy person. I am not an active person either. I classify myself as somewhat productive albeit capable of more. I would like to think I am a little above above-average. How much above, I don't know. When I take an IQ test, instead of focusing on the questions themselves, I invest time in prayers toward falling in the genius category. Needless to say, for the last five years I've been stuck at 131. The upper limit for the above average category is 130. That puts me just past the line in the Intelligent category.
This is a very unsettling place to be in. If I worked a little less hard, then I'd be above average. But if I worked a littler harder then I am settling deeper into "Intelligence".
This phenomenon is called Performance limbo.
That is where I am. And that is where my data is. When I look for reproducibility, my data is repeatable within the acceptable limits. But more often than not, on the upper end of the limit. If the acceptable limit is ±5%, then mine is most likely to be close to 5% error. I know people who will say 6% is also acceptable. Some might consider error bars close to 7, 8 and 9 too. I think until it is single digit, people might consider it to be valid data. But if it hits 10%, then it mostly needs another data set. So there is an allowed error limit for the allowed error. And so on.
This window of acceptability is so vague. So unacceptably vague.
What we need is a law of limits. For IQ ranges, for error bars, Speed limits, BAC limits, "Normal" behavior.
The Law of Limits states that the allowed variation in the allowed error is the same fraction as the allowed error itself. The decimal till which such error can be calculated is numerically equal to the allowed error expressed as a percentage rounded to the nearest whole number.

This is also known as the Zeroth law of Graduatics.

Color: Black and Gold
Song: Paper planes


Arvind Suresh said...

Glad the Burgh got you writing again!!! I think that view from the incline, my first of the Pittsburgh skyline will stay with me forever :)

Go Black and Gold!

Sandeep said...

No doubt about you being a PhD student :P

Deepu Vasudevan said...


I agree. The Tulip is BEAUTIFUL.


Mucho gracias!