Brush with destiny

In other Virginia Football related news, I just realized (thanks to the College of Arts and Sciences alumni newsletter) that I am, as they say, one degree removed from the oracles who decide the Bowl Championship Series rankings. Wes Colley, UVA Physics 1993, runs the Colley Matrix, a simple iterative calculation that starts with a team’s win-loss record and then factors in the win-loss records of its opponents, and on and on until the records converge.

Interestingly, Wes’s story is also the story of how college football, in the form of the BCS, doesn’t understand blogging. He formerly kept a journal of games he attended on his site, but was asked to remove it by the BCS, who feared that the journal would lend the appearance of bias toward east coast teams. Never mind that the math is entirely objective and thoroughly documented…

My one degree of removal is due to my taking a statistical physics course (with John Ruvalds) in which Wes was also enrolled; I remember him being much better with the math than I was. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should also mention we were classmates in a grad level math course until I dropped it, crushed by the weight of my perplexity and overly heavy course load. I fortunately was able to come back two semesters later and complete the course, but I still think about certain Fourier transforms with a shudder.)

Oddly, I’m also one (or two) degrees removed from the concept of “one degree removed”; the Oracle of Bacon is a project at UVA.