Harvard University,FAS
Fall 2003

Mathematics Math21b
Fall 2003

Linear Algebra and Differential Equations

Course Head: Oliver knill
Office: SciCtr 434
Email: knill@math.harvard.edu

Linear Algebra in Politics

(A diagonalization problem ( Source: NPR)
Garrison Keillor in NPR, November 29, 2003

SS (KID): Hi. My name is Brooke.
GK: And a little child shall lead them ----
SS (KID): Why not?
TR (ARNOLD): Brooke is working out a mathematical formula for making
             the California budget deficit disappear.
GK: Aha.
TR (JESSE): To take a negative thing and make it into a positive thing.
SS (KID):   Not that hard. All you do is reverse the sine with the cosine,
            and evaluate the denominators along a parabolic tesseract and use that
            to diagonalize the matrix.
TR (JESSE): See what I mean?
SS (KID): I worked it all out as a formular ---
GK: That's a complicated formula, kid.
SS (KID): No, it's not. Look. You just take the spending, county
          by county, and they form this, you know,  like orthogonal basis for
          expenditures, and you find the eigenvalues and that lets you diagonalize
          the matrix.
TR (ARNOLD): Diagonalizing the matrix: that's the key to the whole thing.
SS (KID): Which you invert.
TR (ARNOLD): The matrix ---
SS (KID): The diagonalized matrix. And multiply it times the vector made
          of projected state spending.
TR (JESSE): I was just going to say that.
SS (KID): Then you take the dot product of this vector with the
          county-by-county average SAT scores and you get the zero vector and the
          budget is balanced. 
TR (ARNOLD): Beautiful. No need for a bond issue or anything.
SS (KID): No problem.
GK: You make it sound easy.
SS (KID): It is.
GK:       But there must be a price to be paid -----
SS (KID): There is. For some reason I don't understand, if I zero that
          vector and diagonalize the matrix with the eigenvalues and the parabolic
          tesseract ---- I wind up with November 31st.
TR (JESSE): But there is no such thing.
SS (KID): I know. That's what I don't understand.
GK: You mean it's November 31st right now?
SS (KID): Apparently.
TR (ARNOLD): Look. No reflection in the mirror. (STING)
GK: You're right. My gosh.
TR (JESSE): How am I going to practice my ballet without seeing myself
      in a mirror?
GK: Kid, this is too weird. Do something.
SS (KID): I'm trying.
GK: Try harder. Jigger one of those equations or something.
TR (JESSE): Look at this plie and tell me how I'm doing. (BALLET PIANO)
GK: I always told myself not to hang around with smarter people and now
    I know why.
SS (KID): I'll get it worked out.
TR (JESSE): And now a grand jete. (BALLET PIANO)
GK: You're not a dancer----- take it from me----
TR (JESSE): On November 31st I am. (HE DANCES AWAY)
GK: And just then I looked up and saw Arnold standing on the castle wall
holding a feather in his nose. ---- What are you doing?
TR (ARNOLD): I'm going to fly-----
GK: Don't do it-----
TR (ARNOLD): It's a magic feather.
GK: Stop! You don't know what you're doing!
TR (ARNOLD): Hasn't stopped me so far.

Source: NPR Radio Text Version

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