jim thornton

March 29th, 2010, 12:00 PM

I would like to extend an open invitation to all my swimming comrades, with or without an interest in mathematical modeling, to enter the Thornton Cup. This competition is named after one of our swimmers who concedes he has benefited tremendously from so-called "cheating body suit" technology.

The competition seeks to find a formula that will prove the most accurate, in both the men's and women's divisions (conceivably, two formulae will be needed), in predicting the change in masters swimming times as we make the sadly disheartening (or, I suppose, to some, happily playing-field-leveling) transition back to the past (though not distant past when Johnny Weismuller and his Olympic peers were allowed, indeed, forced, to swim in body suits).

Normally, a simple and elegant formula along these lines might be considered best:

C (cheating suit time) = {a few coefficients and quadratic equations, possible some linear algebra thrown in for good measure} = P (back to the past suit time)

However, as much as I personally enjoy elegance, simplicity in and of itself will not net you the Thornton Cup. Accuracy, and accuracy only, will.

If you are able to triumph by use of a super computer running simulations 24/7 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory nonstop between this year's SCY Nationals and the start of next year's event, more power to you!

There will be a trophy presented to the winner of the Thornton Cup, possibly showing said individual bowling or maybe playing softball (such trophies tend to be easier to find at yard sales; I will, however, keep my eyes open for a Mathlete Trophy if one should come onto the market).

But more than such an cherished bragging-rights keepsake, you--sir or madam--will have achieved something much finer indeed: kept the flagging hopes of Thorntons everywhere from collapsing into total despair as his or her once respectable swimming times plummet next year into the stuff of true Intimations of Mortality.

To jump start your own ideas, I have posted my initial ideas at the following:

http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=8806

Please be sure to look at the excellent comments so far posted--and use this particular vlog entry as a place to keep the officials at The Thornton Cup competition h.q. apprised of your progress.

Thanks ever so kindly!

The competition seeks to find a formula that will prove the most accurate, in both the men's and women's divisions (conceivably, two formulae will be needed), in predicting the change in masters swimming times as we make the sadly disheartening (or, I suppose, to some, happily playing-field-leveling) transition back to the past (though not distant past when Johnny Weismuller and his Olympic peers were allowed, indeed, forced, to swim in body suits).

Normally, a simple and elegant formula along these lines might be considered best:

C (cheating suit time) = {a few coefficients and quadratic equations, possible some linear algebra thrown in for good measure} = P (back to the past suit time)

However, as much as I personally enjoy elegance, simplicity in and of itself will not net you the Thornton Cup. Accuracy, and accuracy only, will.

If you are able to triumph by use of a super computer running simulations 24/7 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory nonstop between this year's SCY Nationals and the start of next year's event, more power to you!

There will be a trophy presented to the winner of the Thornton Cup, possibly showing said individual bowling or maybe playing softball (such trophies tend to be easier to find at yard sales; I will, however, keep my eyes open for a Mathlete Trophy if one should come onto the market).

But more than such an cherished bragging-rights keepsake, you--sir or madam--will have achieved something much finer indeed: kept the flagging hopes of Thorntons everywhere from collapsing into total despair as his or her once respectable swimming times plummet next year into the stuff of true Intimations of Mortality.

To jump start your own ideas, I have posted my initial ideas at the following:

http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=8806

Please be sure to look at the excellent comments so far posted--and use this particular vlog entry as a place to keep the officials at The Thornton Cup competition h.q. apprised of your progress.

Thanks ever so kindly!