Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Math Olympians

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

CIMG0897Eight young American women kicked butt in the 2010 China Girls Mathematical Olympiad held August 9 – 13 in Shijiazhuang, about 100 miles from Beijing. They brought home to the USA five gold medals, one silver medal, one bronze medal, and one honorable mention. Four of the girls are from California, three from right here in Silicon Valley. One of the gold medalists, Lynnelle Ye, proudly represents El Camino Real; she just graduated from Palo Alto High School, she’s been taking advanced math courses at Stanford University since her junior year, and she’ll be attending The Farm in the Fall.

The China Girls Mathematical Olympiad is an international event where young women attempt to solve six math problems in nine hours split over two days. No calculus is required but the problems are…challenging. Here are a couple samples I found from a similar competition.

  1. Prove that for each positive integer n, there are pairwise relatively prime integers k0, k1, …, kn, all strictly greater than 1, such that k0k1kn – 1 is the product of two consecutive integers.
  2. At a certain mathematical conference, every pair of mathematicians are either friends or strangers. At mealtime, every participant eats in one of two large dining rooms. Each mathematician insists upon eating in a room which contains an even number of his or her friends. Prove that the number of ways that the mathematicians may be split between the two rooms is a power of two (i.e., is of the form 2k for some positive integer k).

Ironically as you see the competitors are given the answers; they have to provide the proofs. It’s  the mathematical equivalent of essay  questions.

Palo Alto’s Lynnelle Ye as it turns out is a bit of a superstar, having placed fourth in the Intel Science Talent Search and second in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Don’t let their math prowess mislead you. From the blog postings they put up on the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute page, it’s clear they are well-balanced, bright teenagers who made the most of the extraordinary adventure they had touring China. Some excerpts:

“I’m the romantic fluffy type who wants to talk about the scenery, because Hong Kong is the coolest place on Earth. So cool that I even bought a few refrigerator magnets. I think I’m going to build my castle here when I grow up.”

“Yesterday, we went to Ocean Park for most of the day. It was awesome! We got to see a lot of animals, including giant pandas, red pandas, sea otters, chinese alligators/crocodiles, dolphins, and sea lions. My favorites were by far the giant pandas. They were so cute! (I wish that I could hug them 🙂 ).”

“So, today’s classes were lots of fun. First we had Polynomials with Po-Ru, where I got to brush up on interpolation. Then we did awesomely awesome constructions problems with Ian. Finally, in the afternoon, Carlos showed us some really cool angle-chasing problems. In fact, one of them is now my new favorite math problem!”

Congratulations to these exceptional young ladies! They’ve got math skillz, and they’ll go far.

MSRI 2010 Olympiad

[Source: San Jose Mercury News]

Bike Party

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

bike_party_2010_april by billmo, on Flickr

Friday night, April 16, 2010 San Jose Bike Party hit the El Camino Real, bringing their two-wheeled high jinks to Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Stanford. Bike Party is a volunteer group that organizes monthly bike rides through the streets of the South Bay, attracting hundreds of riders. In contrast to the edgier and more confrontational Critical Mass, Bike Party seems to be a more festive and light-hearted event, but still a serious ride. Friday’s route was 27.57 miles long.

bikeparty  191I first heard of Bike Party last year when they rode past my house in the middle of the night. I was asleep in bed when I was awakened by a couple neighborhood dogs barking their heads off. I could hear voices and strange mechanical noises coming from outside in the street. That’s not so unusual; it’s a busy street and occasionally we’ll have boisterous pedestrians or vehicles going by. But this time the noises didn’t stop and the dogs kept on barking so I went to the window to see what was going on and slipped into the Twilight Zone. There were bicycles rolling down the street. Wave after wave of bicycles. Dozens of them. There were mountain bikes, road bikes, stunt bikes and beaters, riders in costumes, hipster types, and nerds in reflective vests. I thought I was dreaming. I went outside in my pajamas and found a couple teens from the neighborhood already standing on the curb, watching the spectacle. They’re the ones who told me it was Bike Party, being much hipper than I.

When I learned Bike Party’s route this Friday included a big chunk of El Camino, of course I wanted to go see the fun and maybe take some pictures. However we went to the anniversary celebration at Calvin’s and I stayed too late enjoying the festivities so by the time I got up to Palo Alto the ride was pretty much over. I saw a few isolated stragglers but hardly enough to constitute a party. I stopped to chat with two riders fixing a flat tire who told me they estimated there were a thousand riders out. I asked how the ride on El Camino was and they replied, “too many cars.” Fair enough.

I reflected on how tragically unhip I am. I drove my car to try to get a look at a celebration of bikes, and missed the whole thing. Ironic and sad. I drove over to the ride’s end at Sunnyvale Town Center and strolled up and down South Murphy Avenue to see if I could spot any riders enjoying a post-ride beverage at the many nighttime watering holes there, but all I saw was this well-populated rack. As it so happened several bars had the Sharks’ hockey playoff game against the Colorado Avalanche at HP Pavilion on their TVs, and as I was walking back to my car I heard the whole street erupt in cheers as Devin Setoguchi scored the game-winning goal in overtime to even the series 1-1, thrilling the home crowd. Friday night on El Camino the good times just rolled.

Here Come the Men of Stanford

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

The Stanford Athletics department has produced this hilarious promotional video featuring my old a cappella group, the Stanford Fleet Street Singers. This is one of those strange weeks where things seem to converge. Last Saturday, the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, I wrote about how I was at a Fleet Street rehearsal when the shaking started. Next Saturday, I’ll be attending the Stanford Homecoming A Cappella concert of all the groups on campus. Afterwards I’ll be rooting for the Cardinal at the Homecoming football game against Arizona State. So naturally yesterday, hump day, I received this video featuring Stanford football and a cappella. It’s like a mashup of my life.

Now I have it on good authority that the world does not in fact revolve around me, but I must point out that I actually arranged the song that Fleet Street is doo-doo-doo-ing at the start of the video, “Lulu’s Back in Town.” I arranged it my Freshman year. That’s pretty good longevity for an arrangement, considering some of the guys in the video were born the year I graduated.

Stanford Reunion Homecoming A Cappella Concert

Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University
Saturday, October 24, 2009
2:00pm – 4:00pm

Stanford Homecoming Football Game

Arizona State @ Stanford
Stanford Stadium, Stanford University
Saturday, October 24, 2009
7:25pm kickoff

Stanford Football Home Opener

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

The Stanford Cardinal play in their football home opener tonight against the San Jose State Spartans. Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM at Stanford Stadium. This game is affectionately named the Bill Walsh Legacy Game in memory of the Pro Hall of Famer and Bay Area coaching great who played at San Jose and coached at Stanford.

I’m a Stanford alum but I live in San Jose so in theory I should be conflicted over this game. But I’m not. Go Cardinal!

2009 Stanford Football Schedule


Opponent / Event



Sat., Sep. 5 at Washington State Pullman, WA W, 39-13
Sat., Sep. 12 at Wake Forest Winston-Salem, NC L, 17-24
Sat., Sep. 19 vs. San Jose State Stanford Stadium 6:00 PM PT
Sat., Sep. 26 vs. Washington Stanford Stadium 6:00 PM PT
Sat., Oct. 3 vs. UCLA Stanford Stadium TBA
Sat., Oct. 10 at Oregon State Corvallis, OR TBA
Sat., Oct. 17 at Arizona Tucson, AZ 3:00 PM PT
Sat., Oct. 24 vs. Arizona State Stanford Stadium 7:15 PM PT
Sat., Nov. 7 vs. Oregon Stanford Stadium TBA
Sat., Nov. 14 at USC Los Angeles, CA TBA
Sat., Nov. 21 vs. California Stanford Stadium TBA
Sat., Nov. 28 vs. Notre Dame Stanford Stadium 5:00 PM PT