God plays dice

More Olympic mathematics: from the arxiv blog, statisticans predict the number of olympic records that will fall at London 2012. The paper is A survival analysis of the duration of Olympic records, by Elliott Hollifield, Victoria Treviño, and Adam Zarn.

Jordan Ellenberg explains the genius of the new (in 2008) gymnastics scoring system. If I may summarize: gymnastics doesn’t naturally have some right wall of performance, so why act like it does?

I’m actually watching the women’s all-around gymnastics final right now. There are eight teams in it, and four pieces of apparatus, so obviously turns have to be taken; therefore at any given time each team will have performed the same number of routines, but not necessarily on the same apparatus. And since different teams are strong on different apparatus, this means that saying “X is ahead of Y” is a bit meaningless. If gymnastics had…

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