A geometry puzzle

Here’s a fun problem I came across when trying to analyse some data, which I thought I’d write up to illustrate the kind of interesting puzzles I get paid to solve as a physicist. Perhaps have a go yourselves and let me know if there are more intuitive solutions.

The Optimal London Pub Crawl

In this third of a trinity of posts involving the travelling salesman problem, we finally use the sophisticated algorithms at our disposal as they were intended: drinking with peak efficiency.

With the aid of a well-placed Christmas present detailing the best pubs in London, I found the optimal route around a reasonable subset of them.

The Travelling Artist Problem

This is the second in a series of posts involving the travelling salesman problem, somehow even more frivolous than the first. This is no coincidence, as I have recently been reading the excellent book ‘In Pursuit of the Travelling Salesman‘, which goes into great detail on the history of the problem and algorithmic techniques for tackling it. The topic which caught my eye was decidedly less technical, as we shall see below.

Christmas Kinematics

In the finest traditions of christmas, how about a timely blog post meant to cynically cash in on a blogosphere craving seasonal articles about nothing much in particular (see previous, sadly failed, attempt). What are the implications of Santa flying around the UK in a single night?

A probability puzzle

I saw a ‘simple’ puzzle on the internet which I thought I’d have a crack at in an evening. Several furious scribblings on the bus and the sofa later, I finally have an answer. I’m so relieved I can’t help but share the joy.

Stochastic geometry and the London underground

Way back when I was analysing London house price data for the Summer Data Challenge, I made a histogram of the distances from a random point in London to the nearest tube station. I noted that it peaked around half a kilometre, but ignored the shape of the distribution itself. This is an unfortunate faux pas for the accomplished procrastinator, so let’s right that wrong with the help of some stochastic geometry.

Regularisation

Here’s a post which combines my favourite bits of writing a blog – fairly mathematical, not too simple or difficult to implement, mostly based around pictures, not covered in my undergraduate education, and pretty damn useful in my job. Excited? You should be.

England and Wales House Prices

The last time I looked at house prices it went pretty well, and I ended up winning a data science competition. There I was only dealing with a million or so records, and a relatively small 120 MB dataset. Then I found out it was possible to download 3.7GB of property sale records for all of England and Wales since 1995, so let’s have another go. Continue reading

Dispersion Elation

This blog has been getting a bit too pop-science for my tastes recently. Card games? Word clouds? Urgh. Let’s do some proper physics. I hope you’re paying attention at the back.

TV Diffraction

When taking a picture of my new 55″ TV (humblebrag) I noticed a diffraction pattern of the reflection of the camera flash. Fortuitously, I had also recently bought a slightly too-powerful laser pointer from China which is the perfect tool to investigate such problems. Here’s a little write-up of my DIY measurements.