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Introducing TechPlex.Com

April 1, 2012

New Blog Conglomerate

Lance Fortnow and Annie Antón have been appointed the new Chairs of the Schools of Computer Science and Interactive Computing, which comprise the College of Computing here at Georgia Tech. We are thrilled to welcome these two great researchers to Georgia Tech. Of course they will become my colleagues, but Ken also feels a special personal connection with Lance. Namely, Lance’s MIT officemate’s wife’s college roommate’s husband is Ken. And Robert Sloan grew up in Buffalo while Ken is there now.

Today Ken and I would like to tell the true story of how these appointments came about, and what the main factors were.

The moves have been reported as if they were standard academic hires, and of course Lance and Annie will have the duties and powers and resources commonly given to heads of schools. However, these are not the main expectations for them. Indeed if you look at Lance’s résumé, you will find no previous chairships or even roles like Director of Graduate Studies listed. Instead, as with President Barack Obama, his main qualification has been Community Organizer par excellence. From Chicago of course. The key vision came from these lines in his online bio:

Fortnow originated and co-authors the Computational Complexity weblog since 2002, the first major theoretical computer science blog. He has over 1200 followers on Twitter.

Fortnow’s survey “The Status of the P Versus NP Problem” is CACM’s most downloaded article. Fortnow is currently working on a book expanding on that article.

The Value of P and NP

An old joke says that {\mathsf{P} = \mathsf{NP}} if and only if {\mathsf{P} = 0} or {\mathsf{N} = 1}. The true values of {\mathsf{P}} and {\mathsf{NP}} are, however, reflected in the fact about Lance’s article being #1. Many other areas of computer science have given birth to economic powerhouses, yet none of them beats {\mathsf{P} = \mathsf{NP}} for popular command.

Universities are recognizing the virtue of becoming more entrepreneurial, and we have already covered their need to recognize online media. It is time, therefore, to tap the enormous financial potential of this enterprise. Accordingly we are proud to make the following announcements:

  1. We have formed a parent company, TechPlex.Com, with Lance as CEO, to be housed in a new building called the TechPlex.Complex.

  2. This blog and the Computational Complexity blog are wholly owned subsidiaries. They will continue to have separate identities.

  3. Our business model includes college and secondary-level classes organized around blogs, and the marketing of Fantasy Theory® as an educational game.

  4. The company will have the stock symbol CMPLX and will be listed on the Nasdaq exchange following an IPO anticipated for 3Q 2013.

Negotiations with Annie are pending Federal antitrust review. We aim to include her site in our conglomerate. Note that the link “Blog” at this site merely points back to the site itself. That is, her organization “Is-A” blog. Indeed this was considered to be an essential qualification.

Underwriting and Changes

Ours will not be the first company to package {\mathsf{P}} and {\mathsf{NP}} in a commercial product. That honor belongs to Microsoft Corp., who long ago incorporated the system file CLASSPNP.sys into versions of Windows. This greatly expanded the complexity content of Windows. Most notably, this association led Microsoft to become a chief underwriter of our venture, for which we hereby express our gratitude and appreciation.

Lance’s CEO package of course included perquisites, and one of them is naming rights over the subsidiaries. Thus to recognize his experience in computational game theory and his standpoint on {\mathsf{P} \neq \mathsf{NP}}, this blog’s title will officially change on July 1 to

Nash’s Lost Letter and P ≠ NP

This of course commemorates John Nash’s lost letter to the NSA, which by its 1955 date has Kurt Gödel beat by a whole year.

But enough of administrative detail. We want to describe the exciting new products that this activity will produce.

Courses Through Blogs

One of them will however have to wait. For an essential reason pertinent to the day, and with planning still in early stages, it is not appropriate for us to include this topic in our post today.

Fantasy Theory

The modern form of Fantasy Baseball traces back to the early 1980’s, when participants who met at the restaurant La Rotisserie Française in New York City used newspapers and spreadsheets to keep track of ballplayers and teams.

The Internet was manna-from-heaven for this kind of game, and one of the first to recognize this in the early 1990’s was Lance’s brother Matt Fortnow. In 1996 he co-founded, a company marketing online tools to create and manage fantasy leagues and serve the game statistics by which the leagues are scored. They branched out from baseball into various games, even cricket, and in 1999 were acquired by CBS Sportsline for $31 million in cash and securities. Fantasy sports are now a billion-dollar industry. We are hence proud to introduce Matt as our Managing Director of Product Development.

How it Works

The “Fantasy” concept operates in a similar manner in various sports. Before the beginning of the season, the participants in a league—most often 10 or 12 people in a private or public league—stage a draft of players in that sport to form their teams. The players on a fantasy team need not be on the same team in real life. The fun is, what if you could have Albert Pujols on your team alongside Evan Longoria and Alex Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury, and roll the dice on pitchers Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano regaining their pre-injury excellence, as Ken has on one of his teams. Your team gets credits for everything good that the players accomplish, such as home runs and (high) batting average for batters, or wins and saves and (low) ERA for pitchers, or yards gained and touchdowns scored in football, and so on.

Fantasy Theory works in exactly the same way. The season runs from August 1 to July 4 of the next year, which is importantly after FOCS acceptances and most grants are announced. In July, leagues are formed and have their draft. The pool of eligible players includes anyone who is a member of the ACM, IEEE, EATCS, or a peer-level organization. In accordance with N.C.A.A. regulations on professional status, currently registered students are excluded unless they “turn pro” before completing their doctorates. Team rosters will follow the Fantasy principle of requiring players at every position in the game, such as Complexity, Algorithms, Crypto, Geometry, Databases, Machine Learning, Information and Communication—while positions such as Quantum and Programming Language Type Theory will be customizable options. Thus owners will have incentive to draft for balance and keep their Bench stocked with utility players who publish in more than one area.

While Fantasy Baseball offers AL-only and NL-only leagues, the premium format of Fantasy Theory will offer AI-only and ML-only league configurations.

Fantasy Scoring Categories

Some scoring categories will be fixed and required in all leagues, such as Journal Papers, Conference Papers, and Grants Awarded. Other categories will be optional, or required but with customizable points options. We invite reader comment on the following provisionally approved categories, and suggestions for others.

  • Results (5 pts. for each Theorem, 3 for a Lemma, 2 for a Proposition, 1 for each Corollary)

  • Plausible Conjectures

  • Breakthroughs

  • Survey Articles

  • Guest Blog Posts

  • Colloquia Given

  • Conferences Attended

  • Times Consulted

  • Referee Reports Submitted On-Time

Besides individual private and public leagues, the jewel in our crown is a competition modeled after the NFFC, the National Fantasy Football Championship, which offers a $100,000 prize to the winner. In our case we are proud to announce that the $100,000 prize has already been endowed by Scott Aaronson.

Open Problems

What categories would you suggest? How should they be scored?

Well maybe this is getting too serious—we very nearly included a reference to Derek John de Solla Price and his scientometrics in either the Norbert Wiener or Adolphe Quetelet post.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    April 1, 2012 2:07 am

    Comment 1 = first pick?

    I draft Ryan Williams.

    • April 1, 2012 9:58 am

      I already did, last summer before his injury. I did apologize to Ryan by private e-mail when I subsequently dropped him to pick up another player.

    • April 1, 2012 12:46 pm

      Whereas in the US we have quantum politicians.

      Incidentally, I have one publication in Programming Language Type Theory, and a 30+ page draft paper looking for an opening in my compressed timescale…hence its wannabe choice and quantum.

  2. student permalink
    April 1, 2012 1:41 pm

    good joke on fool’s day 🙂

  3. Martin Cohen permalink
    April 1, 2012 9:32 pm

    Cute, but Dijkstra beat you to it with “Mathematics, Inc.”

    See EWD 743, 1224 at


  1. Links 1 Apr « Pink Iguana
  2. Science Advisor | Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP

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