The Cook Book

Recipe for the week of April 22 - 28

The Chef's Leftovers

This week some odds 'n ends to update three past recipes ...

Bruce's Gnarly Page

Recall that Bruce Hearn is a former student of mine who uses CA rules as image processing tools, in free-wheeling combinations, to create colorful collages. I recently revisited his page to check that the link is still active, since Bruce has left Wisconsin for the Land Down Under. His URL not only lives, but now features a collection of mpegs with provocative titles such as Demise of 'the man' (UPL's faculty advisor), and a new gallery of CA graphics that one can tour by clicking on them in succession. When I did so, to my horror this week's soup appeared several images into the slide show.

What is the world coming to when anyone can grab your likeness off the Web and perform totally gruesome plastic cybersurgery? I suppose my indignation is a bit hypocritical, though, since one of the standard demos of WinCA subjects Sharon Stone to the same treatment. Actually I'm rather fond of Bruce's portrait, though the Ted Turner in me couldn't resist colorizing his version slightly.

Ambient soup

I continue to feel that ambient music makes an ideal aural accompaniment for the visual dynamics of cellular automata. Many pages of the Kitchen now feature midi tunes of this sort which can be heard with the Microsoft Explorer browser, and I plan to add Netscape 3 support next week. But for a really nice ambient Netscape plugin or Windows player, visit the Koan Page. Their free versions handle single pieces from a rather extensive library, while the commercial version can be programmed to play custom albums. Koan has even released a Brian Eno collection in their proprietary format.

Ultimate Bacon

Brett Tjaden at the University of Virginia has added an Arnold Schwarzenegger option to his Oracle of Bacon page, and has also done some new calculations concerning the Center of the Hollywood Network, i.e., the performer with minimal average distance to all others in the Giant Component of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The current record holder is this guy, whose most recent memorable performance was in Police Academy VI: Mission to Moscow. Give up? You will find a list of ten actors more central than Kevin Bacon, together with their connection distributions, at Who is the center of the movie universe?. Just for fun, Brett also included Dmitri Vasilyev from that famous 1928 Soviet pirate flick. He has yet to check some other leading contenders for Center such as Michael Caine and Klaus Kinski, but judging from a recent email, the whole venture may be too volatile for a definitive resolution:
The average Vasilyev number was about 8.4, and there were actually 13 people with Vasilyev numbers of 13. I had also proved that 13 is the diameter of the large connected component, but these results became obsolete this weekend when I downloaded the updates from the IMDb. There are no longer any people with Bacon number 8 and Dimitri Vasilyev (who used to be an 8) is now a 6! That's the hard part about this project, the IMDb changes every week, and it has major implications on who's the "center" of the universe.

Finally, here is a puzzle which should have a more stable solution, for the mathematicians out there. Janko Gravner has asked the identity of the person x who minimizes B(x) + E(x), the sum of Bacon and Erdos numbers. I can prove this minimum is finite and, in fact, at most six!

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