Book Surfing, from Jim Sogi

December 8, 2008 |

 I like to read several books at a time for half an hour each. Some of the recent books are pretty thick going and half hour is barely a page or two. Also I'm in waay over my head on a few. Its good to read both fun books as well as challenging material.

1. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman is a Fun book about what will happen to man made infrastructure when man disappears. Manhattan streets become rivers, and the bridges and skyscrapers fall down, and animals take over. Most shocking was the information on the amount of plastic waste clogging up the planet and how it never degrades. Made me switch to glass plates, and cloth shopping bags. Its clogging the oceans and rivers. Awful.

2. Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron is a somewhat mystical, political travel book by a Brit traveler who speaks Chinese and Russian and travels the old Silk road. He has an odd and, I suppose, British style, but once into it, very pleasing. He visits ancient religious sites along the way and describes modern life. I saw a DVD called the Journey of Man which postulates using DNA evidence that cavemen migrated out of Africa up through central Asia, and then to the rest of the world. This made the description of the people and cultures on the Silk road even more fascinating to me as the cross roads of man as he spread out to the world.

3. Mathematical Constants, Stephen R. Finch, Cambridge University Press is really an encyclopedia of fascinating mathematical constants with a plethora of references. It is rather technical, terse and in mathematical terms. It is not at all like Berlinski's Tour of the Calculus which is aimed at casual readers. Of course the most interesting are Pi and e. These show up in the oddest places and in more places than you might imagine. They show up in the sums and products of sequential fractions. PI of course is part of statistics and used to compute the area under the various distribution curves.

A fascinating constant is one of the Feller coin tossing constants used in determining the probability of a run of heads in n sequence of coin tosses. Its not as trivial as it seems and different than some other solutions to this that I've seen. In conjunction, of course I had to revisit my daughter's Calculus text.

 4. Patterns Formation, Rebecca Hoyle, Cambridge University Press, is about mathematical methods to define patterns such as leopard spots, fingerprints, oscillatory patterns such as traveling and standing waves. I''ve only skimmed this book except for the introduction which identifies symmetry as the basis for defining patterns. This of course has deep implications for the market analysis. Typically books of this nature have only one or two sections dealing with subjects that might apply directly to markets. The idea that an algorithm can be found that models the market and that can be coded and used for market prediction is always the elusive goal.


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