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September 13, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round Seven

The Vice Chancellor, your top student and your favourite movie star are around for dinner. To your HORROR you discover that your lazy chef has only cooked enough food for three. Who do you boot out onto the street hungry? And why?

Bye Matthew Trundle! It’s sad to see you go, but someone had to. If you were wondering, Matthew would have kicked our dear Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh out onto the street, so he, his favourite student and Russell Crowe could enjoy a delicious meal. You’re a brave man.

So we’ve got four left… Or do we? This week we’re going to throw a spanner in the works. Don’t want to vote for any of these lecturers? Vote Candy Badger instead! She’s been trying to launch her own campaign, so now we’ll give her an excuse to do it properly. But does she have a fan base big enough to topple any of the lecturers? Tune in next week to see—get voting, people!

Vote by texting 027 CUSTARD or email before 5pm Thursday.

Marc Wilson, Psychology

Hmm, to suck up to the VC or to not suck up? Does his PA even read Salient? Who will Trundle eject from his dinner line-up, and how will he manage to insert a reference to the Iliad? And seriously, which of the Idols actually even HAS a chef! Unfortunately, it’ll have to be Movie Star Bruce (see Round 1) who gets the chop—I’m risking the wrath of his Boomstick for coming all the way to Karori and not getting dindins, but it’ll be a public service to save him from all the shop talk that will happen even if I kick one of the other two out! I mean, he’s not going to agree to play me in the movie of my life if he has to sit through me talking about my research with Top Student OR discussing how to make psychology a compulsory subject for all students with the VC. Come to think of it I’m pretty sure my family aren’t going to want to be there either, and they’re used to me…

David O’Donnell, Theatre

Let’s get real—without the grace and favour of the VC and my top student, I’d be busking in Cuba Mall for a living. The most expendable guest would be my favourite movie star, and luckily I’ve invited Buzz Lightyear rather than Juliette Binoche or Kristin Scott Thomas. Like the VC, Buzz is a great leader, familiar with rule-books; and like my students, he is brave and courageous in achieving his goals. Food rations wouldn’t be a problem—as a computer animation Buzz feeds not on bite-sized haute cuisine, but on megabytes.

Dean Knight, Law

Beware—it’s a trap! Students would rejoice if I showed Uncle Pat the door. The establishment turning on itself. Our VC being forced to eat bread and water, like the impecunious students burdened by his escalating fees and levies. But, no. I’ve engaged in such career-limiting behaviour before. And have learnt my lesson. Oust my top student(s)? Unfair. And Idol suicide. They deserve praise. And lattes.  Not loneliness. And spurn Colin Farrell? Never…!

Finally, I could never deny my Samoan husband a delicious home-cooked meal. We have a pact. I cook. He plays piano. Perfect harmony. No. It’s me who must be sacrificed… Hungry, for the greater good!

Peter Andreae, Computer Science

This is exactly the kind of tricky decision problem that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are excellent for. I would use a Machine Learning classification algorithm to build the optimal decision tree to tell me who should be sent home. All it needs is a big computer and data to learn from. So I would run the same dinner party many times, sending home one of the guests at random, and measure the fall out each time. After about 100 cases, I would feed the data (along with a measure of the consequences) to my Machine Learning system, and from then on, it would be able to give me the optimal advice. (Of course, by then, the student will have graduated, the VC will have fired me, and the movie star won’t return my calls…)


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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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