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¶ Integration Bee
On tuesday night hockey, we've been getting some locals showing up lately. They're nice guys, but they're not really into the whole Harvard/MIT super-brainiac thing. For quite some time, they would always trash talk the rest of us in these absolutely ridiculous ways. Some classics: "You can do calculus in your head, but you can't pass a puck!" "You know PI to ten thousand digits, but you keep tripping over your skates!". Nice guys, but I'm never really sure how to react to that.

In other news, we went and watched the annual MIT Integration Bee today. Think spelling bee, but instead of getting up and spelling a word, you get up and solve analytic integrals. There were 12 finalists today, facing off in a tournament fashion. Contestants would compete in pairs. An integral would be shown to both contestants, at which point they would have 4 minutes to solve the integral. Contestants were allowed two guesses per integral, and the first to solve the integral correctly gained a point. The first rounds were sudden-death, and later rounds were best two out of three. The winner of the entire tournament is then crowned Grand Integrator

Here's a toy integral they showed just to explain to rules to the audience:

It was cute. The idea is that ∫ (1/ cabin) d cabin == log(cabin) + C. Now, a log cabin + C is a houseboat (C -- sea), but they said omitting the constant is fine, so log cabin would have been acceptable.

Anyway, it was pretty exciting. This one in particular was pretty cool:

The guy on the left solved it in 5 seconds. 5 seconds! And I think it was 5 seconds only because that's how long it took him to write down the solution.

The audience commentary was pretty funny too. Occasionally you'd hear someone get impatient and start shouting "Integrate! Integrate!" Actually, that was usually me and Matt shouting. A guy sitting behind us was also adding his own real-time commentary. "That's totally wrong. Where'd he get the 1/5 from? And the pi? Where'd that come from?"

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