I read this interesting piece from Science Daily:
ScienceDaily (2009-01-10) — A powerful new tool that can extract features and patterns from enormously large and complex data sets has been developed. The tool — a set of problem-solving calculations known as an algorithm — is compact enough to run on computers with as little as two gigabytes of memory.
Pretty exciting stuff. Then I read:
A mathematical tool to extract and visualize useful features from data sets has existed for nearly 40 years – in theory. Called the Morse-Smale complex, it partitions sets by similarity of features and encodes them into mathematical terms. But working with the Morse-Smale complex is not easy. “It’s a powerful language. But a cost of that, is that using it meaningfully for practical applications is very difficult,” Gyulassy said.
What a minute… it that Smale guy the same Smale I took numerical methods from at Berkeley? Holy crap! If I only knew what a mathematical big shot he was (Erdos number 4) I might have paid more attention in that class.
BTW, the A- I got in that class pushed my GPA a smidge above 3.0. And I took the final exam the day after my graduation ceremony.