Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to catch Kerviel

I know nothing about finance and my sole knowledge of the Kerviel case is based on this excellent article.

I am now going to shout my mouth off about how this fraud could have been avoided.

1. The bank broke rule one of fraud detection. “He never took holidays and when he left the office he refused to let other traders take over his positions". Everyone must take their holidays.

2.“Every two or three days he was changing his position. He would input a transaction that would trigger a control in three days and before that happened he would replace it with a different one.” These sorts of checks need to be randomised. If the checks are this deterministic they can be easily circumvented.

3. Benford's law. I bet a shiny Euro coin that Kerviel straight made up some of the data he entered into the company system. I double that bet that this fake data he entered looks entirely random. And thus if this data was checked to see if it obeyed Benford's law it would have been detected as fraudulent.

4. Knowing nothing about finance this is where I run out of ideas. What I would do next is obey the advice of this book
p66 "one of the best ways of analysing an organisational problem is to ask not "What can we improve?" but "what can we change?". It could be that something as simple as randomly changing the seating occasionally could discourage nefarious activity.

So any other ideas for simple checks and balances that could prevent such frauds?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spam Excuses

Why not use spam to help you? After years of penis enlargement emails and confidential business propositions from Nigeria you deserve some payback.
So why not use spam to cover your misdeeds? Send an email admitting to some heinous crime. But modify it so that the email gets sent to the spam folder and is ignored.
Then when your boss asks about the defrauded 5 billion or your wife finds you in bed with her sister you can say "But i sent you an email telling you" and that way lose some of the blame.
Think of it this way Spam filtering is an immune system that prevents useless emails from getting into your email body. What I am trying to do is create a false positive auto-immune email response.

Spam filters use a number of techniques to judge that an email is spam.
1. The user email. Someone who emails you all the time is unlikely to suddenly become a spammer. Because of this when sending your confession you need to use an email the recipient does not recognise. You can use an anonymous remailer or even just a web email account.
2. If you are sending to a web email if your email has sent spam previously your address is likely to be blacklisted. So before sending to recipient@mail from spammer@mail send some purely spam email from this address before you send the email with the confession you want to be junked.
3. The message content. Email filters generally use Bayesian filtering where words are ranked by their frequency.
You can take a collection of spam emails and extract random words out of them. This might fool a Bayesian filter but you could not later argue that you really meant for the email to be read.

A serious problem is one of trust. No one is going to accept "but I told you I was going to defraud the bank of billions" if you make such an obvious attempt to stop your mail getting seen no one will believe you made a sincere attempt to confess.

So rather then adding random spamy words altering your email to look spamy in a more natural way is preferable. Markov models are a good way of producing realistic text.

I gathered together some spams to train this ruby program on it on and the result is below.

"an alpha blocker (other than tamsulosin (Flomax) 0.4 mg once a day) such as doxazosin (Minipress),
TRY IS TODAY TO GAIN THE LONGEST AND LIVE LARGE TODAY! from 20$ 4 or more mood-killing premature ej@culation. Just try VPXL and more effective is an idea of the world is an idea of Feed Blaster is faster, easier to use,"

So how do you tell your boss that you are defrauding your bank out of a possible 5 billion euro? Say the message is
I am engaged in an illegal rogue trading activity.

Ok now give an explanation for the use of the weird email account. Make the explanation kind of spammy.

sorry for using this weird account I thought you might want to join me in this confidential business proposition.

add some more spam sounding text also

(I know this sounds like one of these confidential business propositions but do not worry i am not trying to Increase Your pen!s size.)
(If we join together in this we will Enjoy all the action of Las Vegas with 24 hour customer services,)

Now when you send this mail it will be cause a false positive be sent to the junk folder ignored and only brought up when you need to blame someone else during your trial.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What is significant?

"If there were a verb meaning "to believe falsely," it would not have any significant first person, present indicative."
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

So we are looking for the present tense something like "I misbelieve"

Well if Wittgenstein is right how many web pages use this term. 88.
So any term that appears in less then 88 pages is insignificant.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who is the campest cereal mascot?

Cap'n Crunch

A man whose chief interests are children’s nutrition, scurvy and sodomy. Always a good mixture that one.

Lucky Charms
Leprachauns are scary. They trick you with promises that have horrible ironic consequences. Ah the sweet sugary lucky charms with the mild consequence of a lifetime of obesity leading to them cutting off your foot when the diabetes gets bad. Eventually you die sugar blinded and unable to hop out of the room. Those marshmallows? Tombstones designed for the Celtic midget to mock your Faustian pact with the breakfast gods.

Honey Nut Cheerios
Ah bees the poor gullible buzzy fucks. How can an entire species be so stupid as to be so freaked out by smoke they lose all ability to do anything? Ok thinking about my college experience that is a stupid question.

Still though on the scale of weird eating bee poo has to be high up there. I tell children that ear wigs make marmalade just to mess up their heads.

Yummy Mummy

How many onanist unidexterious sweaty internet crawlers have had there romantic mood ruined by this deceased damsel? Between this bint and Count Chocula how many children are reduced to bed wetting neurotics by starting everyday with the undead?

Tony the Tiger
Tony is without doubt the campest man on television. The poor fucker is trapped in the closet by the evil machinations of the corporate cereal world. This guy makes Liberace look butch. Forget marriage if you want to advance gay rights we need to fight to get Tony out loud and proud. And no a "Don't ask don't tell" policy will not work, cereal mascots have no private lives. They cannot go civilian it is against the whole metaphysical bargain they enter into.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rambo will kill us all

The real exponential growth existential threat to the world is not grey goo nano robots but Rambo.
The number of people killed per minute doubles in every Rambo film
Number of people killed per minute in the Rambo series.

* Rambo: First Blood (1982): 0.01
* Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985): 0.72
* Rambo III (1988): 1.30
* Rambo IV (2008): 2.59

So say the film is 90 minutes long. There are 6000 million people in the world. So Rambo needs to kill 66 million people per minute to kill everyone.
Currently in Rambo 4 he is killing 2.59. So at the current growth rates of blood lust in Rambo 30 everyone on earth will be killed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Product Names: Cop the fuck on

I was in a shop buying a baby present the other day and I saw this abomination

Why the hell would you want your child to be like the baby Einstein? He did not learn to speak till he was about seven. And why the hell would you want a 2 year old knowing the Natural numbers? They drove Cantor and Goedal mad and they were smarter then someone who shits themselves all the time.

Actually I do not think shitting yourself means your stupid. I think babies do it because their bored by the bullshit go goo da da people say to them. Because of this I have started to shit my pants whenever someone boring speaks to me.

And if baby Einstein is the stupidest product name ever how come we have a sudden year inflation in product names? in 1980 in order to make things seem futuristic they were given "2000" at the end of the product. The "Nilfix 2000" hoover made you think that this was the sort of thing we would be using in space while eating our pill for breakfast after we had fucked our green wife. But now everything is "3000" in a thousand years time. It is ok to claim your product is from 20 years in the future but 1000 years is taking the piss. We probably won't even have arseholes never mind skin that creates dust that requires hoovering.

And why must everything have a galactic name. There was a hoover in the shop today called "galaxy" I did not buy it because I could not stand the existential doubt it would create. "what if everytime I turn on the Hoover I create some mass catastrophe a tiny minature galaxy?", "What if I live in a hoover belonging to a giant?" "maybe i will become a god to the hoover living people" all these difficulties arose.

Also how small can things get? Ipod nano is taking the piss, what is next femto and peto? A music player so small you put it in your ear and it feeds off your brainwaves? When you get down to the nano scale you have bizarre quantum events. does this mean the ipod nano really exists or only when you are listening to it?

Speaking of which. What he fuck?

Should we stick this beardy goat fucker in a cage with a smoke detector and a gun? If the Schrodingers cat situation is created what will happen? Seeing as he is already in a half alive half dead state is a superposition of states even possible? If we stick the crazy bastard in Schrodingers torture device seeing as he is already in the half dead half alive state maybe it would change the equation and give us a proper answer.

As Samuel Beckett said always leave them with a joke. I thought my ads for a site for old people were undergoing click fraud. Thing was all the guys with Parkinsons were clicking about 100 times.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rule 35

Rule 34 says "If it exists, there is porn of it."

I propose rule 35 "If it exists there is a knitting related blog combined with it."

First person to find a google whack using the word knitting disproves this hypothesis.

While I am on the subject why isn’t there a music video with a bunch of TV’s sitting round a living room drinking beer and watching a band perform in the corner? It would be a play on the idea of “If TV was so good there would be one in every living room”. And at the end of the video the TV would throw the band out the window in a rock and roll irony way.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mii Bride and Groom

There are services that supply personalised brides and grooms for wedding cakes.

It would be more efficient to make these personalised models out of a template system that is widely used and available to everyone.
You can use mii avatar design programs to create both the bride and groom. This is the program used to create peoples likenesses in the Wii gaming system.

Mii design involves a huge number of choices. For example someone’s head can be any of 8 shapes with 6 ways to modify each. Each with 6 allowed colours. So there are 288 basic faces. When you combine these with the total number of choices in different areas it means that storing particular features to add to the face when needed could be inefficient.

A better way would be to store how to create each feature and create the physical piece when needed. Craftzine this issue has a piece on how to model using marzipan and food dye.

If you could copy this method using the reprap rabid prototyper you could have (near) automated personalised wedding cake decorations.

The reprap machine has already been modified to decorate cakes so such a usage is practical.WOW also has personalised avatars but they are more complicated making their real life production more difficult.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Meet the parents parents parents parents

The reason we allow over a billion people in the world to live in abject squalor is because we think they are different from us. We think they do not feel the way we would in the situation that they do not know of any better. The only way to increase our efforts to help them is to help us think of ourselves and those we love in a similar situation.

In the program "who do you think you are" the broadcaster "Jeremy Paxman became teary-eyed after discovering that his impoverished great-grandmother Mary Mackay had her poor relief application revoked by the parish because she had had a child out of wedlock."

There is a connection between how we view the past and those in the third world. As L P Hartley said "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there". If we can see our families in the past living in the same squalor as the bottom billion today we can empathise more with the poor. It is hard to imagine that our own great great grandmothers did not feel and suffer like we do.

This can be done statistically using programs like gapminder to show how our country had similar levels of poverty (by various indicators) in the past. A more visceral experience can be gotten from the census of 1911.

Here you can see your own great grandfathers writing. See how many of his children died in infancy. See how many of your great aunts were sent to work in their early teens. See how many of your family were cramped into the same house or room.
By showing that our ancestors had the same problems as the poor today we increase our empathy for the poor and might start doing more to help them.

Friday, January 04, 2008

One Million Dollar Desecration Prize

For some reason my idea of a mathematically efficient packing of the stars in the American flag was not that popular. I think this is because people really want a flag where the importance of states is shown. Important states should have big stars and other loser states smaller ones.

So the problem becomes “how can you arrange these different sized circles most efficiently inside a rectangle”? This problem is NP-Hard (pdf). This mean there is no polynomial time algorithm that will put different sized circles into a rectangle and guarantee that arrangement to have the least amount of free space. If you find a way to solve this packing problem in polynomial time you win the 1 million dollar prize as this will show that P=NP

So if you can find an efficient way to desecrate the American flag you can win 1 million dollars. In my next post I will look at heuristic methods to desecrate the American flag using the number of people executed by the state since 1976 to decide the size of star the state gets on the flag.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The American flag is inefficient

America is backed by an image and symbol that is inefficient.

The stars represent the 50 states. I have no idea what the candy stripe is about it is probably an ad for a barbers or something.

Anyway is the packing of these 50 stars efficient? If you are not willing to make the symbol of your nation efficient what does that say? What can you think about a country if they are willing to waste fabric in a flag? This is fabric that adds to the cost to schools to buy a flag. This is fabric that could be used to bandage the wounds of injured puppies. So in the name of all that is efficient lets see if I can fix the flag to something less crap.

Each star is a state and they should all be equal minimum gaps between them. The current attempt at a flag does not have all neighbouring stars the same distance so I do not need to.
The stars are going to be modeled as circles (with stars in the middle) The use of circles ensures the stars will be kept a minimum distance apart.

Now you might guess that the best way to pack circles is in the hexagonal (green grocer) formation where the upper layer falls between the circles in the lower layer.
This is obviously better then a square packing.

But this is not the most efficient way to pack circles into a square.

Now the flag circle holding part is rectangular not square. Does this effect how we should pack stars into it?
For a 5*1 rectangle the hexagonal packing is still not best

How about for the 6*5 packing used in the flag?

Of course no one really thinks all states are equal. If you allow some states to have smaller stars then others you can come up with even more interesting patterns.

Natural Selection in War

This tasteless cartoon reminded me of a weird security glitch that could have effected the evolution of mankind.

In Vietnam a faulty random number generator meant that people born in certain months were more likely to get drafted

If you follow the logic of this article this could have resulted in a skewed evolutionary selection where people whose parents were romantic (feb 14th-> November) or Irish (March 17-> December) had less chance of getting killed.

So check your random number generators are accurate if you do not want a future infested with romantic Irish people.