The recent US presidential elections were a big ego-boost for proponents of applying math to real life. First of all, there was Nate Silver, who almost got christened a “witch” because of the uncanny accuracy with which he predicted the outcome of the elections. A statistician by profession, he used the laws of probability to build complex statistical models that predicted the winning candidate in each of the 50 states with 100% accuracy. This was a marvelous achievement, definitely not achievable by more conventional witches that use only intuition and magical spells.
Then, there was an entire team of “number-crunchers” that managed Obama’s election campaign. Barack Obama himself assigned a lot of credit for his victory to this team. Here’s Obama tearing up while thanking them:
Why would an election campaign use numbers? This article explains. Quoting:
When Jim Messina arrived in Chicago as Obama’s newly minted campaign manager in January of 2011, he imposed a mandate on his recruits: they were to make decisions based on measurable data.
Measurable data. As opposed to mere intuition.
For each battleground state every week, the campaign’s call centers conducted 5,000 to 10,000 so-called short-form interviews that quickly gauged a voter’s preferences, and 1,000 interviews in a long-form version that was more like a traditional poll. To derive individual-level predictions, algorithms trawled for patterns between these opinions and the data points the campaign had assembled for every voter—as many as one thousand variables each, drawn from voter registration records, consumer data warehouses, and past campaign contacts.
This innovation was most valued in the field. There, an almost perfect cycle of microtargeting models directed volunteers to scripted conversations with specific voters at the door or over the phone. Each of those interactions produced data that streamed back into Obama’s servers to refine the models pointing volunteers toward the next door worth a knock.
This is amazing. A central server that runs a statistical model and guides each campaigner’s every single step based on data collected from past records and experiments! Aside from giving goosebumps to every statistician on earth, it also led to Obama’s emphatic victory in the presidential elections!
Using real data to make decisions is perhaps one of the most important things humanity has been realizing in the past few years. Why not do the same for the decisions about your career?
Each person is a complex entity. Should you do engineering or should you dabble into arts? What exams should you take? What subjects should you concentrate on? How much time should you spend solving exercise problems and how much time should you spend reading new text books?
Every thing you have ever done in life, every exam you have taken, every question you have answered and the way you have answered them already contains a lot of data to help you take the right career decisions in your life. Every day you leave new clues about what kind of person you are and about what kind of future is best for you. Why not tap into the data and have your own number-crunching team for your preparation for IIT entrance? This is precisely what you get if you sign up for the personal preparation plan.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
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