23 April 2008

Can This Just Be My Career?

My baseball partner-in-crime Matt sent me this awesome link to a New York Times story I missed about a month ago.

If you want to know how tons of nuclear engineers spend their time, look no further. We run simulations like the one in the article. Except instead of flipping these virtual weighted coins to see how simulated batters fair over the course of their careers, we're trying to see how simulated neutrons (or x-rays, or electrons, or whatever) fair over the course of their lifetimes (from their creation in the reactor or whatever until their eventual absorption or leakage from the system). Of course, for a binary process (e.g., DiMaggio either gets a hit or he doesn't) it's OK to visualize coin-flipping, but I think it's better to think of the "randomness driver" as the roll of a many, many-sided die--which is why the Men from Mars referred to this clever trick as a Monte Carlo method. (In fact, I used Monte Carlo to write this absurd little simulation, which happens to be about rolling dice.)

Man, writing baseball simulations for a living would maybe be my dream job. Hey, Baseball Prospectus: need any more modelers?

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