Monday, October 31, 2016


I have just started a new company Ednalaytics Ltd. The first product will be a web-based tool to support students studying for their GCSEs in the UK. The idea is to use primarily their mock exam results along with some other information to identify the "low-hanging fruit"; that is which topics they should revise in each subject to most easily improve their grades and give them links to appropriate revision resources. The system will also highlight to students which subjects are marginal and which are below their government targets.
There are existing data analysis products out there which can idenfify which students are at risk in which subjects but these do not provide information to the school, teacher, student, parent, private tutor what topics the students should work on. And then there are companies which provide revision guides and videos for the whole course and leave the students wondering where to start. The idea at Ednanalytics is to help route the students and those supporting the students to the right resources and provide advice on where to start.
There's nothing on the web site at the moment, but my target it to have a preliminary system by the end of the year: 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Search Engine Optimisers

Just lately I seem to have received a spate of junk mail from companies promoting their search engine optimisation services. How to top Google rankings and avoid paying the sponsored link or advertising fees is the know-how they are touting. Well for my money, I have noticed that Google services like Blogger always seem to get a good weighting in the Google algorithms (how surprising) so a good start would be to have a blog in blogger with all your key words in. It certainly works for me. Secondly, it makes sense to update your pages regularly as I mentioned in one of my very early blogs.
The second thing I have had to deal with is loads of Anonymous comments appearing as a result of some dodgy spiderbot roaming the web; for some reason it particularly liked the one with a title using the Cyrillic alphabet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's a boy!

Here's an interesting problem posed to me by MAJ: A woman has two children. Given that she has a boy born on a Tuesday, what is the probability that she has two boys?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paine Relief

It was a delight to meet up with Robert (Nick) Paine and his wife and daughter in Neptune's Hall over the festive period. I promised that I would share my solution of the Queasyjet problem - see earlier blog post.
Well here is how I see it:
Assume that there are n+1 passengers, then when the first (and actually special) passenger gets on he will choose from one of the n seats that does not belong to him.
This means that there is a 1/n chance that he sits in the last passenger's allocated seat, leaving no chance that it is correctly allocated. It also means that there is an (n-1)/n that he sits in a seat leaving both his own and that of the last passenger unoccupied.
This second situation is what I call a "steady state" because from here on, the probability that the final passenger gets their allocated seat is 1/2. To understand why it is important to understand the end game - the "game is over" when a passenger sits in the first passenger's seat (in which case the boarding continues smoothly and the remaining passengers, including the last get their allocated seats) or when a passenger sits in the last passenger's seat (in which case it is guaranteed that the last will not get their allocated seat). These two scenarios are equally likely because for each passenger k>1 either their allocated seat is available or they choose one of the endgame scenarios each with probability 1/(k-1).
So if there are n+1 passenger, the probability that the last one will get their seat is
P(doesn't get seat)= [(n-1)/n]*[1/2] = (n-1)/2n=[1/2]-[1/2n]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The DNA Delusion

Last Christmas a friend of mine bought me Richard Dawkins' book "The Greatest Show on Earth". I was staggered to find out how narrow minded this man is. I have not read his book "The God Delusion" nor will I waste my money on it. He articulates a well-reasoned treatise on how a living form could arise from the primordial soup and then with a sudden leap of faith says that consciousness is simply the result of the complexity of the molecules - I have to say that this viewpoint reflects an act of faith rather than reason. Descartes pursues the argument the other way around, saying that the rules of the universe are simple and elegant, therefore there must be a God. I have to say both viewpoints are interesting but not totally convincing.

How many zeroes at the end of 100!

I thought this was a fun question from one of the (Junior) Maths Challenge papers. It's a good way to reflect on prime factorisation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

QueasyJet Queueing

This weekend I got a message from an old friend of mine Robert Paine (better known in our maths class as Pean). He attached the following probability problem to his email knowing that I enjoy doing the occasional maths problem in my extensive free time.

There is a queue of passengers waiting to board a QueasyJet plane each with an allocated seat. The first person boards the plane and sits in a random seat which is not their allocated one. The next person gets on, and if their allocated seat is free they sit in it, otherwise they choose a seat at random from those remaining. Each person then follows that same rule: if their allocated seat is available they sit in it, otherwise they sit in a random free seat. What are the chances that the last passenger sits in their allocated seat?

It's the sort of thing that would turn up on a Maths Challenge paper but probably not a GCSE or A Level these days. It did prove a welcome distraction from the essay I have to write!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Viral Marketing?

I got an email this morning from Katherine Poll of Digeus Software the exact text of which is below. Now as my early blogs will attest, I do have an interest in the way internet will work for business and marketing in particular. This is a cool approach which I have not seen before. Digeus are offering what should be a useful software item for screen capture and asking in return to have their product mentioned on my blog. Now is it the fact that it is on my blog that interests them? Well of course the answer is in the postscript. You must not change the text Screen Capture Software which under the covers links this phrase with the company Digeus Software. So what you ask? Well I just typed "Screen Capture Software" into google and I got heaps of results as one might expect. I browsed through the first 6 pages and could not find a link for Digeus Software. If my suspicions are correct then if Digeus are successful in getting this link into a large number of blogs, Google's search algorithm will obligingly push them up the list. Viral marketing? Let's hope not!

"May I ask you to place the link below to our Screen Capture Software anywhere on your blog? If you agree, please send me the link where you placed the link and I will present you with a license for free.

Here is the link:
Screen Capture Software
You may place this link alone without description or on existing post or create new post with a short description (language and text is up to you)
Feel free to get information about product here:
P.S. Don't change text in the link. It should be "Screen Capture Software".
Katherine Poll"