March 30, 2012

Nocturnalism

Peaceful night sky
So it's currently Spring Break over here in Brown. I didn't go anywhere, but instead elected to stay on the campus. It's really peaceful as everybody already left for warmer locations. I decided to try an experiment for the duration of the break--I decided to go nocturnal.

Why you ask? No particular reason. It's just something that I naturally tend towards anyway. I get most of my work done at night. I play with my friends at night. I sleep really late and wake up even later. My life has always been on the nocturnal side. I am no morning person.

So this break, I decided to fully embrace it and go 100% nocturnal--sleeping at 8AM and waking up past 6PM. Or sleeping at sunrise and waking at sunset. I don't really know what biological effects this experiment has had on my body (Vitamin D). But so far, I feel perfectly fine. Adjusting my sleep cycle took a few days where I progressively slept later and later. First 6AM, then 7AM, then 8AM, and finally 9AM. It's been an interesting journey and I have learned a few things.

I think I prefer being nocturnal. An average day (or night) begins with me waking up to my friends/suitemates. They are all hungry from a day of being awake and wake me up to go grab dinner. No blaring alarm to wake up to, no deadline to meet, just relaxation.

Next, my night begins with dinner (or breakfast) with my friends. We enjoy a lovely meal and conversation. I love how the first thing I do after waking up is relax with my friends and have a good time. Afterwards we'd play video games or watch movies. Since none of my friends hang out in the day, I usually don't miss much.

Eventually, the day-mongers would get tired and all retire to their respective beds. After everybody goes to bed, I return to my room, play loud music and do whatever I please. I finished the Millenium Series, reorganized my entire music library, did my laundry, wrote blog posts, did some homework, and finished Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. The best part of being awake at night is that nobody else is awake to bother you. No nagging to go to bed. No annoying questions. Nobody telling you what to do. It was peaceful. It was serene.


On a side note, if there were no classes, I think I'd gladly switch to being nocturnal full-time.
On a side side note, classes start in 3 days. I unfortunately have to pull an all-dayer to fix this schedule again. Oh well.

March 29, 2012

Pareto Efficient Crosswalks

Car / Pedestrian and directions of travel
Imagine this scenario, I'm sure it's already happened to you many a times. You're walking down the street, when a car is coming at you from your right. What do you do? The car could stop and wait until you cross the street, then continue on its way. On the other hand, you could also stop and wait for the car to pass by and then continue on your way (Assume there are no stop signs, traffic lights, or police officers).

Either way, somebody must stop. One person must necessarily wait for the other in order to proceed. If we assume that time saved is a normal good and that waiting is an inferior good, then obviously, a rational individual would want to minimize their waiting time and maximize the amount of time saved.

We can show the results in a payoff matrix.

Both Go
Suppose that both the pedestrian and the car decide to go without waiting. Then assume that there will be a car crash and both individuals will die and therefore cannot get to their location (Payoff of 0).

Both Wait
If both the pedestrian and car wait, then neither will ever go resulting in inaction. Prolonged inaction leads to the death by starvation or dehydration of both individuals (Payoff of 0).

Car Goes, Pedestrian Waits
Payoff matrix
If the car decides to go and the pedestrian waits, then the car saves time by not having to stop and wait while the pedestrian has to lose a bit of time before continuing on (Payoff of 1 to Car and 0 to Pedestrian).

Pedestrian Goes, Car Waits
If the pedestrian decides to go while the car waits, then the pedestrian saves time by not having to stop and wait. On the other hand, the car loses that opportunity and gains nothing by waiting (Payoff of 1 to Pedestrian and 0 to Car).

We can see clearly from the payoff matrix that the above scenario has two Nash equilibria--the two cases where one waits while the other goes. Using the Pareto Efficiency criteria, these two results are also Pareto optimal--one must necessarily be worse off for the other to be better off.

March 05, 2012

Anxiety With Friends

W is worth only 4 points?
Lately I've been playing Words With Friends a lot. For those of you that don't know what it is, it's basically just Scrabble for your smartphone or a Facebook game that you play with your friends. I like it particularly because I don't have to overly commit to it and can play at my own leisure. I make a move, you make a move. It could take days, even weeks, for a single game to end.

Sometimes I have to look at a specific game-board multiple times (couple of days) before I can finally decide on what word to play. And If my opponent notices that I haven't played a word for a long time (3 days+) he/she starts pestering me, "Hey man, it's your turn on Words" or "Are you ever going to play your word?" It's not particularly annoying and most of the time I just brush them aside until I have the time to actually sit down and play my turn.  Yet, I can't help but think that the pestering has a subtle subconscious effect on my mind.

For example, let's say you're hopelessly in love with a person. In fact, let's not even use the word "love," because it's more like a crush. Now let's say that you hardly ever see this other person--in other words, your opportunities to interact with him/her is extremely limited. That sucks. But what can you do? You live life in waiting for the next time you will run into him/her, stuck in a perpetual state of limerence.

But every time you do see them, it's like an unconscious reminder--"When are you going to see them next time? Why don't you seize the opportunity now and just do something." It's like that friend who pesters you to make your move on Words With Friends. You feel obligated to initiate something. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity. Then, after hours of worrying, I end up playing a lame 10-point word, costing me the game.

But what if I'm not ready to make my move? What if I don't necessarily have the letters I need for that awesome triple word, triple letter, 100 point+ combo? What if I am preparing for an even bigger move in my next turn?


On a side note, I think my happiness is a function of the weather.