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November 25, 2013

Life, The Universe and Everything…

42, according to Douglas Adams in his seminal book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is the “Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”…

I’ve analysed this claim in great depth and found it to be absolutely true!

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Life, the Universe and Everything

Well, at least from the point of view of my life, universe and everything

Well, actually, I wouldn’t go that far…

Anyway, it turns out that the number 42 is very important to me, because everything I create in my working life can be fabricated from 42 different elements

As a Data Scientist, computer programmer and statistician, my life revolves around the writing of stuff to create other stuff, using:

  • 26 letters of the modern-day Latin alphabet (A-Z)
  • 10 single-digit cardinal numbers (0-9)
  • 6 mathematical symbols (+-*/^!)

Add these up and what do you get?

Number 42

Ok, ok, so I’ve conveniently ‘forgotten’ to include other symbols, such as .,<>&(), and so on, but the number 57 or whatever wouldn’t have given me such a great title now, would it?!!?

But the point I’m trying to make is that as computer programmers, analysts, software engineers, the things we create (which include every piece of software produced by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, et al.) are formed from the very basic building blocks of education - the letters and numbers (and a few extra symbols) - that we first learnt when we were 3 years old!

It constantly amazes me that so much can be achieved by the application of so little

But what about industry and imagination, I hear you say? Aren't they important in creating such world-changing stuff?

Yes, of course they are! And isn’t that always the way?

All together now boys…

"It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it…"

Amen to that!

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Lee Baker is an award-winning software creator that lives behind a keyboard in a darkened room. Illuminated only by the light from his monitor, he aspires to finding the light switch. With decades of experience in science, statistics and artificial intelligence, he has a passion for telling stories with data, yet despite explaining it a dozen times, his mother still doesn’t understand what he does for a living. Insisting that data analysis is much simpler than we think it is, he creates friendly, easy-to-understand video courses that teach the fundamentals of data analysis and statistics. As the CEO of Chi-Squared Innovations, one day he’d like to retire to do something simpler, like crocodile wrestling.

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