That’s a lot of Nerds

Look at all those nerds down there! See that one? He makes fusion reactors for DeLorains. And that one? She is an astronomer that decodes alien communications. And that one? Uh... well... he makes video games, I guess.

MIT had it’s grad gala on Saturday night this past weekend, and a lot of people went! 710, to be exact. Afterwards everyone hit the dance floor, and I got to thinking. Could it be that the dance floor was in fact the nerdiest dance floor ever? Possibly! A room full of MIT PhD students is quite the geek-out, and would certainly put us up there in the running. Perhaps the Nobel Prizes has some sort of break dancing event after the award ceremony? That could one up this, I suppose. Top 10 for sure though!

BONUS MATH SECTION: While we were sitting and eating dinner we heard two groups of people singing happy birthday to someone at their table. We started wondering – given that there were so many people in the room, how many tables would sing happy birthday? For simplification’s sake we decided to pretend that people would only sing happy birthday if it was someone’s birthday that day (and not just “close by”). Well, as you might guess 710/365 is about 2, so you would expect that 2 tables would sing. But that’s not good enough! What about the standard deviation – how many people could have birthdays within the realm of reason? A quick backhand calculation of standard deviation ( which is: square root([E[X^2]] – [E[X]]^2) ) yielded (sqrt(E[~50,000] – 2^2), which is about sqrt(135), which is about 11.5. So if my math isn’t wrong (and it might be), up to 13 people could have birthdays and it wouldn’t be weird.

Update: I’m an idiot, the standard dev is much lower at around 1.3 or so. In that case it’s extremely unlikely (read: around 1 in a hundred chance) that you would even have 6 or more people having a birthday today. That’s not particularly intersting, so can anyone do a better job of this? I’d love to take into account other factors, like when babies are born, likelihood of twins, and to get rid of the assumption that people only celebrated their birthday on that day.

One Comment

  1. Derek

    You have to count both Saturday and Sunday, assuming the party went past midnight.

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