Thursday, April 28, 2011

Playoffs: Playing the odds

So my team is out of the playoffs.  Sigh.

This unfortunate turn of events has given me more time to think of other things though, and one of those things was the "fairness" of the playoff system.  In the NHL, sixteen teams compete in four rounds of playoffs, with each round being a best of seven elimination.  All things being equal, every team would have a one in sixteen chance of winning the Stanley Cup... but of course, things are never equal.

But what would happen if one of the teams was, say, twice as good as every other team in the league?[1]  What would their chances be of winning the cup?

Would you believe that they're more likely not to win the cup?

There.  That made me feel better.  (Okay, not really.  Sigh.)


[1] It's tricky to define what "twice as good" might mean.  For simplicity, I'll define "twice as good" as being twice as likely to win a single game.

Looking at this year's regular season, the top-ranked team earned 117 points, while the bottom-ranked team earned 62.  If all those games were played against each other, then the top team earned 65% of the points, which is 1.88 times the points earned by the bottom team.  If you only compare teams that made the playoffs, then you're looking at 117 to 93 points, which is only 1.25 times as many.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mike and Me

A couple of days ago, two students were ejected from a political rally because they had posted a facebook picture of themselves with another candidate.  This is the first election that they can vote in, and they were diligently listening to all sides of the story.  Somehow, the campaign office and/or the police decided that they were too dangerous to be in the same room with the candidate.  Check out the video that somebody nearby recorded (courtesy of CBC.)  Pretty dangerous.

For fun, I thought I might upload an image of myself with Ignatieff, but, unfortunately I've never met the man.  After a little programming, and some image stitching , I had my new facebook profile:

Me and Mike and Awish Aslam.  (Almost!)

If you want your own image, you can stitch one up with "Mike and Me", available from  The program captures your face from your webcam, and stitches it into the student's face.  Hit the space bar, and your face will switch to the other student.  Pose with a friend, and you'll both be included.

Pose with a friend.

Interested? Read more coverage of the story from the London Free PressCBC, Vancouver Sun, and the Globe and Mail.