Thursday, July 10, 2008

The New Cherrapunji??

Pilani - the new Cherrapunji!!!

Apparently, that's what the guy from the Blue Moon claims... :-)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sports Journalism

I have a certain affinity for British papers - both of the tabloid and the broadsheet kinds - for they are the best sources of any news on Manchester United. So while I've made it a point to start of my daily internet browsing with BBC Sport, Guardian Sport, Telegraph, Daily Mail and the Independent (usually in the same order) it has also made me blisfully aware of the opinions of many of the best sports writers in business (for the previous term, read James Lawton of the Independent, Henry Winter of the Telegraph and Richard Williams of the Guardian) One only wishes that India had such great sports writers...Unfortunately none of our journalists seem to have enough working knowledge of sports (the only column that I do read comes from Harsha Bhogle) and often, Indian newspapers often resort to lifting articles straight out of their UK counterparts (mainly because both countries seem to follow the same sports to different extents)

Of course, the choices of articles are coloured at best - coloured by support, perception and more generally, the Indian mentality which frowns upon almost every sport that boasts of a ball smaller than the red cherry of cricket. So while people coo about the most recent Federer-Nadal final (admittedly, it deserved cooing on the fans' part) and drive themselves mad over Spain's conquest at the Euro (newspapers here called it the return of beauty to football...I guess they haven't followed Fergie's United over the past two years) the most stunning achievement in sport over the last year was conveniently consigned to a most disappointing two-column report in most dailies.

In the Olympic year when we will see more fairy-tale stories and scandals than can be counted on our fingers, we have perhaps ignored the greatest achievement of the greatest sportsperson on earth. On 16th June 2008, Tiger Woods completed his 14th major win, competing against the rest of the field - the best golfers in the world - on one good leg. Playing with two stress fractures in his foot, a knee that he said was as painful as it gets (after the tournament of course...he wouldn't dream of giving a quarter to his opponents before or during a major) and rust out of not playing for six weeks before the tournament due to injury, he overcame the odds and won, prompting James Lawton to say, "Wonder of Woods rooted in resolve as much as flashes of divine inspiration."

These are the kind of stories that sports journalists should highlight - triumph against the odds, the emphatic statement of a champion on the field of play. Pity though, that people seek sensationalism more than inspiration and sports writers give it to them. So on May 22 in the aftermath of Manchester United's Champions' League victory, most papers preferred to dwell on the indecisiveness of a greedy footballer (I am not criticizing Ronaldo's ability but merely a part of his attitude) instead of the unquenching thirst of the longest-serving club manager in Britain, who despite having re-emphasized his place at the top of the pantheon of great football managers, said, "It drains away quickly for me. The euphoria evaporates almost immediately. The moment of that final penalty save from Edwin van der Sar, that was my moment, my euphoria and excitement, then you just carry on."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Bone of Contention

I read something the other day:
"In an ideal world, we would have 'm' parallel tasks and 'm' processors. But since we are not living in the ideal world, we usually have 'm' parallel tasks and 'n' processors where 'n'<'m'. In the former case, we would complete 'm' tasks in t time, where t is the time that a single task will take for completion."
I don't know why this statement got me thinking, but there seems to be something wrong with it, and I can't seem to put my finger (literally!) on to it. The proverbial "bone of contention" with this statement seems to be a basic assumption which is usually false in the real-world scenario; the assumption being that all the m parallel tasks being spoken of here are completely independent - as in the memory they access, the buses they send their data on, the processors they use are all different from each other - only then would one get m times the performance of a single-processor system.

However, say the tasks aren't completely independent. Let's assume that some of the tasks refer to the same memory space, some of the tasks require information from the results of the other tasks to actually start their own operation. In that case, even if we do have an equal number of processors to the number of tasks at hand, all of them will definitely not be used, which would equate to a wastage of resources.

Which brings me to my question,
"Exactly where on the Performance v/s Utilization line is the trade-off between the two deemed acceptable?"
Of course, the trade-off point (if I might be allowed to say so) will vary from application to application, depending on the required response time of each application and a million other factors (not literally). So, a better way to phrase the question would be "Is there some way to quantify a minimum ratio (maybe not the right term) or a worst-case relationship between Performance and Resource Utilization? In essence, is there a guarantee that while my performance won't suffer much, my resources will still have to work a minimum amount of time?"

Any CSE Gods here care to explain??

P.S. Just discovered a strange quirk of the Blogger editor...Apparently you cannot enclose m inside of HTML tags.