Friday, January 20, 2006

Grades -- Quantization Error

"... It is rumored that some professors decide grades by tossing coins ...."
-- The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. II, DE Knuth
In my school days the marks that a student used to get in terminal exams had a resolution of 0.5. Importantly, if you get 24.5 in some paper there was good chance that it will get modified to 25. Good!!! So it was natural to try for at least an increment of 0.5. Nice. Whatever be the situation the quantization error was at most 0.5. Meanwhile I think that the system was quite fair and their was no short-cuts. I moved to colleges where although the phenomenon of quantization error was still prevalent but other factors emerged. Contacts, mugging (although it was in school also; but in colleges mugging was done knowingly), cheating and many many other political games.
Well with time I came in a college where huge quantization error also came in picture. They call this quantization phenomenon as grades. Whatever be the interpolator you will use you could not get some picture of talent by using these grades. See an example of a subject, where grades were distributed as, 70+ 'A', 35-69 'B' .... and like this. This is great. Now these pictures of 'A' and 'B' are often used to represent oneself, so a person having score of 36 and other having 69 will smile together. Yeah they should smile together. Interestingly I found that students still do cheat(before coming to examination hall they pray Goddess saraswati (minerva) --- God Help me to write paper in a good way, God help me to get success ... blah, blah, blah ...) . If you are not cheating ... you should die. If you are reporting that some malpractice has ocurred ... they say, where it has ocurred, we were there,... what rubbish you are talking!!! Now after some hours of mental trauma, you come to the conclusion ... it is hard to believe in human beings in context of truth. There is none.
So Pinky cheats, Rocky copies, hitech Guy does manipulation and Mr.Ass gets beaten. Next day you will find them discussing issues in this country called India, and very very worried!!!
So this great person, DE Knuth, has rightly quoted above mentioned line in his book, The Art of Computer Programming.

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