Friday, March 11, 2005

Numb3rs Review: "Counterfeit Reality"

...also to be referred as the 'projective Daubechies' episode.

After a brief hiatus, Numb3rs is back, with another kidnapping episode. As usual, spoilers abound..

Plot Summary: Series of store robberies and two murdered teens lead to a gang of counterfeiters, who kidnapped an artist and forced her into doing note sketches for them. If Don, Charlie, and the rest of their merry men can't find her in time, it's lights out !

This is a good "character development episode", with backstory about Don's love life being revealed. I guess the producers didn't have the courage to go all CSI/Law and Order/Law and Order SVU/Law and Order CI/Law and Order WillYouStopWithAllTheSpinoffs on us and dispense with the characters' backgrounds. Pity...(Yes, I know this is a frequent rant, but ...)

As I always say, if you want character development, don't read this blog ! My heart races when they say 'wavelets', which in fact they did. Local cop refers to a 'video-enhancement algorithm' that Charlie has developed, and I was wondering when wavelets would come up. As it turns out, there are scenes with pictures of what appear to be wavelet basis functions (though they didn't look like Haar wavelets at least).

I have now seen 7 episodes of Numb3rs, and in these seven episodes, Charlie uses statistical modelling, attacks P vs NP, does cryptography, understands advanced number theory, knows civil engineering, is a mean hacker and consults on string theory problems. Not to mention having tenure. So my question is: What could Charlie's field of specialization possibly be ? I mean, what on earth could he have written a thesis in ? The 'professor of applied math' part could cover the modelling and the civil engineering, but the rest ? And does he not know that at certain universities, math department professors wrinkle their noses when a professor of 'applied math' walks by ? I have certain departments in mind, but I'm not naming names ;)

Best/Most inane line of the episode: Charlie's grad student (who appears to be a wavelet expert as well as a combinatoricist), says 'In combinatorics, sometimes we vary the angle of attack'.

In algorithms, sometimes we eat the sugared candy...
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