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Pele vs. Pierre Simon Laplace (2); Alan Turing advances

Best comment yesterday came from Manuel:

Turing did not know how to train a machine to pass the Turing test. I’m sure Oprah knows how train a person to pass the Oprah test.

But there is no Oprah test. So Turing will advance.

Maybe next time we do this competition we can include Alison Bechdel.

And today we have an unseeded GOAT vs. the second-seeded mathematician. I’m pretty sure that neither would give a seminar half as fun as Oprah or Turing, but one of the two must advance to the third round. Who should it be?

Again, here’s the bracket and here are the rules.


  1. Ethan Bolker says:

    We’ve not thought at all about language. I think modern Portuguese might do better in Columbia’s neighborhood than classic French. Laplace would write equations in a universal language but Pele could show us stuff that didn’t require words.

    (I started out expecting the language argument to favor Pele, convinced myself otherwise, then convinced myself back.)

  2. Phil says:

    Pele vs Laplace — I’d go to a seminar by either, although I think I’d probably find Laplace more interesting…but this is such a lame comment that I don’t expect it to carry any weight at all in this contest.

    But I did want to second your implicit suggestion that, in some future bracket — ten years from now, I hope, since I share the sentiment, expressed by some, that this just seems interminable and I’m not excited about seeing these brackets too often…still, we must soldier on — in a some future bracket you an have a category of people who have tests named after them. Turing, Bechdel, Binet, Apgar, the team of Myers and Briggs, Rorshach… any one of them would be formidable competition.

  3. Manuel says:

    The King vs. a marquis. The guy that can explain us how he made that fabulous goal against Sweden ( vs. the only one that would be able to write a polynomial to describe it. I go with O Rei, but maybe the audience thinks otherwise.

  4. Dzhaughn says:

    Pele wouldn’t get any joy against a back four of Laplace, Sartre, Descartes, and Thuram.

    Thuram’s “Thinker” celebration homage to Monte?

  5. Dalton says:

    Goals, are what we want to see
    But I guess there won’t be a net?
    If no goals, we sift out a win
    I guess it must be Laplace

    (Sung to a derivative of a Naive Melody)

  6. Wilde v. Voltaire is my preferred final, but I have a soft spot for Laplace.

    Perhaps have some mercy on Pele and save him the pain?

    “If you are first you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.”
    ― Pele

    On the other hand, as an expositor of mathematics Laplace has his flaws, and I agree with this take:

    “The genius of Laplace was a perfect sledge hammer in bursting purely mathematical obstacles; but, like that useful instrument, it gave neither finish nor beauty to the results. In truth, in truism if the reader please, Laplace was neither Lagrange nor Euler, as every student is made to feel. The second is power and symmetry, the third power and simplicity; the first is power without either symmetry or simplicity. But, nevertheless, Laplace never attempted investigation of a subject without leaving upon it the marks of difficulties conquered: sometimes clumsily, sometimes indirectly, always without minuteness of design or arrangement of detail; but still, his end is obtained and the difficulty is conquered.”
    ― Augustus De Morgan

    and this one {I haven’t read Lagrange or Gauss}:

    “The great masters of modern analysis are Lagrange, Laplace, and Gauss, who were contemporaries. It is interesting to note the marked contrast in their styles. Lagrange is perfect both in form and matter, he is careful to explain his procedure, and though his arguments are general they are easy to follow. Laplace on the other hand explains nothing, is indifferent to style, and, if satisfied that his results are correct, is content to leave them either with no proof or with a faulty one. Gauss is as exact and elegant as Lagrange, but even more difficult to follow than Laplace, for he removes every trace of the analysis by which he reached his results, and studies to give a proof which while rigorous shall be as concise and synthetical as possible.”
    ― W.W. Rouse Ball, A Short Account of the History of Mathematics

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