Computational Challenge of the Millennium

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  Computer scientists, both classical and the quantum kind like me, traditionally divide the world into two problems that can be solved easily (= scales polynomially in time with more inputs) and not so easily (= scales exponentially).  The former class of problems are formally called P and the latter NP. The reason this is a big deal and why you …

Does BIG DATA Imply Small Effects?

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Two words are thrown around a lot these days, mostly together: Big Data. Given the abundance of information, affordability of data storage, ease of collection, lax privacy concerns and even better, eagerness to share, data is ubiquitous. How we shop, what we eat, how our hearts beat, and what the world did for millions of years. If there is any record …

The Red Queen of Technology

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‘Innovation’ is a sickening buzzword & cliche these days, with an (almost) exponential growth (and degradation) in the word’s usage over the past two decades. In fact, the word has lost its meaning so much that I ended up removing any traces of it from my Linkedin profile, after hearing it on America’s Next Top Model. A wannabe model called …

What Spurs Breakthroughs ?

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What spurs breakthroughs? Technological and scientific breakthroughs occur when one or more of the following 5 things occur: 1. New measurement techniques, tools & regimes: When new regimes of measurement and exploration are possible, people begin to see, understand, control, and design things differently. Invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and its successor the atomic force microscope spurred the birth of nanotechnology. …

Coco Chanel’s Market Research for No. 5

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Guess how Mademoiselle Chanel did her market research for the world’s most popular perfume? Dana Thomas’s Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster is certainly a luscious read on the history of luxury. What caught me by surprise was the number of business issues Dana dives into and the phenomenal job she does discussing them. Coco Chanel: an icon, a visionary, and …

Why You Need to Master Catan before Starting a Startup

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My obsession (investment?) with The Settlers of Catan is paying out triple fold. There is an easier way to learn the basics of building a successful start up without actually starting one – although starting is the best way. Master the strategy game of Catan and look for underlying mechanics of how winning works. Just a few games in and you will …

Be a B2B, not a B2C.

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B2B: Business-to-business.   B2C: Business-to-consumer. Startups are not easy ventures. Average exit times range widely from 7 years (for VCs) to 16 (for founders). Coffee consumption, phone bills, stress level, rejections – everything but your bank balance – soars. It is filled with scores of late nights, earlier mornings, personal sacrifices, pain and bouts of self-doubt. And as this uncrunched …

3 Japanese Words to Live By

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  3 words for every artist Rules to live by 997 to lay to rest These to abide by 1. Ikigai: ‘y-KY-gnaay’ is one’s reason in life. Ikigai goes beyond the French raison d’etre because the concept of ikigai includes its discovery. You are not born with it, you don’t chance by it, and definitely no one person or community …

9 Stages of an Accidental Doer

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Some mornings I have deep insights about myself. I’m now on a start-up quest – that tingling time when your start-up is an oozing mass of excitement, lives no where but in your head, and the whole universe lights up when you talk about it. To your friends, you sound like a bumbling baboon on PCP. They are trying to …

Two Butterflies Flapping up a Nano-storm

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Although I am not a believer in the inevitability of inventions, dueling technologies certainly make me pause. Consider this: within a week of each other, I came across two articles reporting on developing nanostructures inspired by…butterflies!  Two different species, at that, with very similar underlying characteristics.  Inspired by these colorful, fluttering creatures, two separate research groups have built nanosensors, sure to …