Friday, 24 January 2014

What happens when I ask students if they have seen 'A Beautiful Mind'

For the past 4~5 years now I've been lucky enough to tag along with +Paul Harper when he does outreach in high schools. I've developed my own little 'roadshow' that introduces students to Game Theory.

On Wednesday there was a cool event at the School of Mathematics where we had 120 odd 17 year olds in to get a taste for the Mathematics at University (some pics: here and here).

I've blogged many times (and +Dana Ernst has as well: here) about the activity that I run which involves a Prisoners dilemma tournament and 2 rounds of a 2/3rds of the average game, here is my updated set of results over all the times I've played it (the second guess is after we all discuss rational behaviour):

(if any of my student are reading this the above could help them win a box of chocolates on Monday)


This is not the purpose of this post.

Something terrible happened on Wednesday.

During my activity I always show this clip from A Beautiful Mind (awesome movie about John Nash):


Before showing the clip I always ask: "How many of you have seen the movie 'A Beautiful Mind'?".

Now, I've been doing this for 4~5 years and the response I get to this question has made me realise that I'm not cool anymore. I guess there's a point in everyone's life where that realisation hits them. I've been in denial until Wednesday when for the first time ever: not one student had seen the movie :'(. This makes me sad because I think this is probably one of my favourite movies and one I've always thought was pretty cool.

Here's a little plot showing what I've been telling myself over the past few years (the fact that xkcd style graphs is now native to matplotlib is cool, my previous attempt at one of these: 'probability of saying yes to academic responsabilities'):



When I first asked and had about a quarter of the room know what I was talking about I thought that it was kind of cool and a sign of no longer being a kid...

When in twenty years time I embarrass my daughter by opening the door to her boyfriend/girlfriend wearing pyjamas; inviting him/her inside for a talk and reading him/her passages of my PhD thesis or whatever else I can think of, I'll be able to say that it's revenge for not being cool any more and that I made this decision on the 22nd of January 2014.