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Monthly Archives: April 2006

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Last night the Orpheum turned, for an evening, into the land of the Chuck Taylors for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The trio was joined by the first opener, Dave Burke-impersonator Imaad Wasif, who played his rather excellent set alone with his guitar and some kind of drone box electrothingee. He has gotta rank as one of the more humble performers I’ve seen, mumbling appreciation of the quiet audience between his songs.

The second opening act, Blood on the Wall — um… wow. I guess being from Williamsburg is now enough to qualify you to start a band and open for the Yeahs. Because it sure wasn’t musicianship, songwriting or stage presence. As Gillian said, for three bucks you can see better bands in Saskatchewan. Needless to say, Pitchfork Media loves ’em (or so the 8.1 rating suggests; the review itself seems to be a bunch of random sentence fragments from the author’s diary).

The YYYs were great though. Karen O came on stage with an ear-to-ear grin, a Renaissance squire costume, and a stiff-legged bounce, the sum of which made her seem like a particularly musical marionette. She ripped through a high-energy set, singing, whispering and screaming, and it’s obvious she loves to perform — everything you want and need in a punk-glam frontwoman. I’m sure she was a handful for her parents.

Children of the CPU

My former roommate’s girlfriend’s former roommate’s Neo New Wave/Electropop duo — Children of the CPU — not only has a really pretty cool album (geek-chicishly titled Back to BASIC), but they got air time on my fave podcast — CBC’s Radio 3. Right in between The Cansecos and Habitat. This rates major coolness points as far as I’m concerned. I remember Amy telling me a couple of years ago about how Cam was setting up recording equipment and then hearing a couple of his tracks when I was in Montreal. Happily the whole album is now up on their website, and it’s a really fun listen.

It really does make me want to write songs and catch fireflies like the other hipsters do, and hey, how many albums make you feel that way?


Erdős Number

Paul Erdős (1913-1996) was a mathematician probably most famous for being nothing but a mathematician, eccentric and brilliant even by the standards of that breed. He published over 1500 papers during his life, while for years he lived without any permanent address. He would crash with mathematician friends of his while collaborating, fueled by a diet of coffee and amphetamines, and occasionally collecting cash prizes for solving outstanding problems in math.

Because he was so prolific and published so widely, as a tribute, his friends created the “Erdős number“, a kind of nerd version of the Kevin Bacon game. Erdős has a number of 0. People he co-authored papers with have a 1. People who co-authored papers with them have a 2, and so on. My Erdős Number, as near as I can determine, is 5.

That’s right, ladies: five.

  1. Paul Erdös, F Harary and Maria Klawe. 1980. Residually complete graphs. Combinatorial mathematics, optimal designs and their applications, Proceedings of a Symposium on Combinatorial Mathematics and Optimal Design; Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1978, Annals of Discrete Mathematics 6, 1980:117-123
  2. K Inkpen, Kellogg S Booth, S D Gribble and Maria Klawe. 1995. Give and take: Children collaborating on one computer. CHI’95 Conference Companion, (Denver, Colorado).
  3. A Csinger, Kellogg S Booth and David Poole. 1994. AI Meets Authoring: User models for untelligent multimedia. Artificial Intelligence Review. Springer Netherlands. 8(5-6):447-468.
  4. P Carbonetto, J Kisynski, Nando de Freitas and David Poole. 2005. Nonparametric Bayesian Logic. Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence 2005.
  5. Eric Brochu, Nando de Freitas and Kejie Bao. 2003. The Sound of an Album Cover: Probabilistic Multimedia and AI. AI-STATS 2003.

Actually, having a number of 5 isn’t particularly noteworthy, even for a student. What I think is interesting is the way that the connections spread not just through authors, but through fields. The first paper is a math paper. The second is about human-computer interaction (HCI): research on the way people use computers. The third is on user-modelling, which combines HCI and AI. The fourth paper is a stats-oriented AI paper, as is the fifth one (mine), though my focus is not theoretical, but applied. By this point we’re a very long way from the pure math of Paul Erdős. I kind of like the idea of different branches of research being so tightly networked together.