Elvis. Tehran (Spy vs. Spy). Irma Vep. Vacheron Constantin.

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Many of you have asked me:

What movie did I see this July 4th weekend that I would recommend?

Last year, it was Summer of Soul (that went on to win an Academy Award). The first 45 minutes of

Elvis

is among the most enjoyable opening acts that I have seen in many years in movies.

Before I get to the gist of this post, I must say that I just finished seeing easily one of the most enjoyable episodes ever, Episode 5 of Irma Vep, with Alicia Vikander (of Ex Machina), but really it is mostly about René (the Director), played exquisitely by Vincent Macaigne.

This post is triggered by this article from NYTimes that I read almost immediately after watching the final episode of Season 2 of Tehran – which, while not as original and exciting as the first season, is still pretty good, but like Season 1 of The Crown, one should be patient and not stop watching after the first two episodes:

Israel’s Spies Have Hit Iran Hard. In Tehran, Some Big Names Paid the Price.

This series (and this news) reminded me of:

Spy vs. Spy is a wordless comic strip published in Mad magazine. It features two agents involved in comical espionage activities. The pair are always at war with each other, using a variety of booby-traps to inflict harm on the other, a parody of the political ideologies of the Cold War and debuted in Mad #60, dated January 1961.

I enjoyed this comic strip as a teenager, and did not realize then that it had unconsciously paved the way for me to be somewhat natural in what (in academia) is called Game Theory (the modern version was created by von Neumann, except in France, where they consider Emile Borel as the founder, much to von Neumann’s annoyance).

I have no formal training in it, but two of my healthcare papers – that married queuing models, in which I have some training, with Game Theory – and just last week, my work on combating child labor in global supply chains, that also uses Game Theory, have won best paper awards:

Imaging Room and Beyond: The Underlying Economics Behind Physicians’ Test-Ordering Behavior in Outpatient Services

OrganJet: Overcoming Geographical Disparities in Access to Deceased Donor Kidneys in the United States

Combating Child Labor: Incentives and Information Disclosure in Global Supply Chains

Perhaps our community inherently likes Game Theory papers?😏

There are downsides to this early imprinting of Spy vs. Spy. It is pretty much the case that I can figure out the “true villain” in most movies and mini-series (although some like The Man from Toronto are so juvenile that it is pretty clear to pretty much anyone, but even The Terminal List was predictable, as was The Lincoln Lawyer). An interesting twist, from several years back, was the series Motive where you are told who the killer is, but what one has to figure out is the why. And on Hulu, I recommend (although it could have cut out two episodes and the eventual villain is somewhat predictable, but the motive is elusive for some time) Season 1 of  Only Murders in the Building. 

Truly the last movie where I was delightfully surprised was:

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural psychological suspense thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Shyamalan, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. It grossed over $670 million on a budget of $40 million.

The understanding of physics has always been a delightful intellectual pleasure to me. The scientific entertainment of the moment (for me) clearly is Quantum Information Science. As I mentioned earlier in Śrīdhara Brāhmaṇa: QSD via SDP, Vikesh and I created a tutorial for the OM/OR/CS community, which will be published soon:

Sridhar,

Thanks for this excellent TutORials chapter. I have enjoyed looking it over… This was a most informative and engaging chapter. Glad that we can include this in the TutORials this year.

Of course, much of the investments in quantum information science – that includes quantum computing, communications and sensing – is related to (cyber and physical) security. A natural question to ask is whether there is something interesting (beyond extending von Neumann’s results and the like where the strategies of the players can be entangled and so on) that can be done in:

Quantum Game Theory.

As I was wrapping up this post, I started seeing a flurry of social media posts about this year’s Fields Medal winners. One of the names seemed vaguely familiar, not because I follow deep mathematics, but because he had won (while a student) a prize funded by the maker of my second most favorite watch (my favorite is Jacques Droz, if you must know):

Since 1948, Vacheron Constantin has awarded an annual prize to a student from the Faculty of Science at the University of Geneva. The raison d’être for such a prize can be traced to Vacheron Constantin’s own history. The company was founded by a brilliant young cabinotier, Jean-Marc Vacheron, a watch inventor as well as a humanist, fascinated by the scientific progress of his time. Today, as then, the world’s oldest watch manufacture – in continuous operation since its foundation in 1755 – relies on research-based technological progress to develop its creations.

 

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