I was in a discussion the other day where the topic changed to Nash Equilibria, about which I knew nothing. Later investigation led me into Wikipedia vortex in which I discovered not only what a Nash Equilibrium is, but also that if you add a new road to a transport system then it can increase the congestion, rather than alleviate it. Who knew? Apparently this is a real phenomenon, and has been observed in various large cities around the world, and is called Braess Paradox.
Will I ever use my new found understanding of Nash Equilibrium? Quite possibly not, but it’s generally true that time spent investigating stuff like this is well spent. I recall reading about genetic algorithms years ago, and spending quite some time writing my own for fun (looking at the Travelling Salesman problem), never thinking that it would turn out to be useful in the future. Nowadays I use GAs a lot, for all sorts of problems.
Earlier on today, a chap contacted me and asked if his 1913 British Penny was worth anything. He included a picture of a very worn specimen, probably essentially worthless, and I told him so. Just because something is old, doesn’t mean it is valuable 🙂
On more pressing matters, Microsoft Security Essentials is asking me to reboot my machine, and I must obey. I love this MSE, so much better and less intrusive than that awful Symantec/Norton thing that I had before, and which seems to snarfle a significant fraction of my system resources.