Simpson’s paradox, or why your intuition about averages is probably wrong

I came across Simpson’s paradox in Judea Pearl’s book The Book of Why. It completely changed the way I thought about average statistics such as mean, standard deviation and correlation.

Inspired by that, I explored Simpson’s paradox in a 10-minute video.

I hope you enjoy the video. Leave your comments on Youtube (or on an email to me) if you have feedback.

Why deep neural networks work so well?

Earlier, I had written about machine learning algorithms and how they struggle to do things that a 5-year-old can master: walking, speaking, and drawing.

This time, I go into much more detail and explore a particular type of machine learning algorithm: deep neural networks (DNNs). These brain-inspired algorithms are effective even on “natural world” tasks: translate between languages, drive cars and recognize cats and dogs.

Why do deep neural networks work so well? Where does their magic come from? I explore these questions + more in my new 16-minute video. ...  Read the entire post →

Logistic maps (and what they tell us about free will)

I’m told that people have started preferring videos over text, and personally, I’m a fan of Youtube creators like 3Blue1Brown. I’ve learned a lot from videos that take a difficult topic and explain it in simple words.

Inspired by this shifting trend, I’m exploring communicating my ideas and thoughts via a narrated video (instead of text). Here’s the first one on an equation called logistic map (and its relation to free will). I hope you enjoy the video.

This is my first video, so I appreciate any feedback you send my way (via Twitter or email, see below). Love it? Hate it? Anything I should consider changing in future videos?  ...  Read the entire post →

Notes on entropy

In my experience, entropy as an idea is generally misunderstood. Like many, I had a gut level understanding of “entropy is disorder”. It’s easy to misapply that intuition and draw wrong conclusions about areas far removed from physics (business, economies, cultures, etc.) Remember: thinking in analogies is dangerous?

So, I decided to dive deeper into entropy and here are my notes on the topic (as a series of easily digestible tweets).

1/ A short thread on ENTROPY, and its misapplications ...  Read the entire post →

Your company’s org chart is more important than you think

Startup founders have many biases. Some are classic cognitive biases that impact decision making, while others are specific biases that impact their product thinking.

There’s yet another founder bias whose impact is not felt for a long time. It occurs when founders assume employees think and act like them. The often repeated advice that “early startup employees wear multiple hats” is an implication of this bias. I remember I assumed that just because I was able to do multiple things (coding, design, marketing, etc.) I expected our sales folks to make their own presentations and engineers to think of new product features.  ...  Read the entire post →

On the inefficiency of machine learning algorithms

Let’s imagine Artificial Intelligence, but in reverse. In such a world, humans are equivalent of machine learning algorithms (like deep learning) and some aliens (or our simulation overlords) feed labeled information from their world into us and ask us to “learn” the mapping between the inputs and the outputs. In all likelihood, their world will be incomprehensible to us (as it would have a very different nature than our world). Hence, whatever data is fed to us will seem random (as, in our world, we’d have never come across it before).  ...  Read the entire post →

Evolution explains everything

I love evolution. It’s hard to not get awed by a process that took Earth, a big rock full of chemicals, and gradually chiseled it to create humans, creatures full of complex emotions and behaviors. Impossible as it may seem, the mind-bogglingly diverse human behavior can be explained via evolution.

Let’s take our sense of boredom. We dislike doing nothing so much that sitting still during meditation requires active concentration. We have this anti-boredom drive because our ancestors who were action-oriented survived longer and had more babies, ultimately outnumbering our ancestors who were happy chilling and doing nothing. ...  Read the entire post →

Thinking in analogies is dangerous

From your high school classes, do you recall the image of an atom where electrons revolve around the nucleus (just like planets go around the Sun)? I’m talking about images of this sort:

A completely misleading diagram (via here)

This analogy of electrons as tiny planets is so common that most people imagine electrons to be like tiny spheres. This bothers me because it’s utterly wrong. Electrons are not tiny spheres. Instead, they’re like a cloud spread around the nucleus. In fact, even the cloud analogy is wrong. Human intuition never evolved to understand things at that scale, so the most accurate picture of an atom is given by the Schrödinger equation. Note that the quantum mechanical equation is not just a mathematical description, it is what an electron really is. By the way, here’s a photo of an atom that was taken recently. ...  Read the entire post →

Building mental immunity against depression and anxiety

Mental health issues were the primary cause of the recent deaths of famous celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Avicii and Chester Bennington. I wish peace to their families and friends.

I hope that these deaths don’t go in vain but serve as a wake-up call for the rest of us. Across one’s lifetime, there’s a very high likelihood of going through a mental health issue. Studies suggest that about 25% of all people suffer a mental disorder in any 12 month window. This means that it’s likely that one in four people you know have recently gone through a depression or an anxiety episode.  ...  Read the entire post →

How to become a leader in 10 hard steps

Wingify, a company that I founded, turns 8 today. Over these years, I’ve seen myself evolve from a silly little punk doing a side project to the Chairman position where I’m responsible for creating future leaders within Wingify.

Wingify’s office in 2011. We had one long table where everyone sat back to back 🙂

In my career, I’ve observed a few people rapidly rise in their careers within while most others simply drift along. What distinguishes leaders from non-leaders?

Our eighth anniversary is as good as any other day to reflect on the subject of leaders. So here goes my advice and observations, listicle style. ...  Read the entire post →