ABOUT MY CONCEPTS
Hello visitor and welcome!
If you have found this site I can only assume that you have similar interests to my own, from which I infer that you are not a cannibal. My name is Norm Mjadwesch, which I am pretty sure you are going to struggle with if English is your first language. The easiest approximation to correct pronunciation that doesn’t require hours of practice is Matt West. I am even thinking of using that as a pseudonym.
Here is my CV (only some of it is relevant to my current path):
Nationality: Australian since 1968; prior to then I was half-sperm / half-egg, but residing in two different bodies.
Education: Bachelor of Social Science from CSU, with majors in psychology and sociology. Bore-ring!
Post-formal education: University of Life (generally less boring). I’m afraid that I learned more lessons in this realm than I care to admit, but at least I learned them.
Employment history: Orchard worker, manual labourer, storeman, bouncer, delivery driver, self-defence instructor (the gulf between my work history and my actual interests is enormous, though it does provide a wealth of material for my writing).
Unfulfilled ambition: Military analyst and / or best-selling author. But hey, there’s still a chance of either happening…
Interests: Various sports (especially cricket), martial arts, and generally being outdoors, i.e. doing physical stuff; reading / writing, history, data analysis, game design, i.e. doing cerebral stuff. And dinosaurs, too – life would never be complete without dinosaurs (which, after dogs, are the second best animals), even if the creators of the Jurassic Park franchise have no intention of appealing to those of us with a genuine interest.
Dislikes: Having my body continually reminding me that from now on it must function at less than its optimum efficiency.
Other dislikes: Dickheads. I really don’t like dickheads (people who have worked in the security industry in particular have generally had sufficient exposure with the inhabitants of the real world to make this a legitimate claim).
The work that I am focusing on regarding this website has two main themes:
Game designs based upon mathematical algorithms.
For me, reading and writing has always been more than just a hobby, while history has always been fascinating to me whereas maths has become an acquired taste, which I’m sure would come as a surprise to my high school teachers. I always wanted to become a writer, and that is why I have written more than just the token bucket-list title, but unfortunately writing professionally is a career path that few aspirants ever manage to succeed in. Indeed, a career in journalism is almost always the only viable route into publishing fiction, which would be about as painful to me as poking hot pins into my eyes – those are not the kind of stories I want to tell! To off-set the grim reality of fighting against the odds, I have deliberately steered myself towards the gaming industry (which now has a digital emphasis, as opposed to the dice games of my childhood), building different models that can each be used to either recreate historical outcomes or else predict hypothetical ones.
The algorithms that I have concentrated on follow one of two themes: military or sport. The military stuff is an extension of boyhood interests; the sporting creations are directed more at the app development market. Each use similar processes: all of them are programmable for digital coding, while at the same time they can be tested with manual record-keeping and dice-generated outcomes.
They work. The maths is solid. I’ll explain a little bit more about them below:
These are the ones that I get the most feedback about, so although they are my newest creations I will address them first. Essentially, what I have done is to write relatively simple processes based upon statistical information that enables certain trends to be replicated as a gaming system. This allows the user to look at historical eras of their favourite sport with new eyes, as forgotten performances are quantified, thereby enabling an evaluation of the worth of bygone players whose reputations are only remembered through popular legend.
These systems also provide useful information for predicting future outcomes, such as the most likely score in a Grand Final, though they are less reliable in predicting the specific performance of an individual competitor.
None of this strand of my research requires data that has only recently become available, such as tackle counts or minutes spent on the field of play. Rather, it looks at information that has always existed, such as cricketing batting averages or football scorecards. So long as it is known which players played in which games, mathematical profiles can then be constructed for individual players. These profiles are expressed using extremely simple values, so that when players are grouped into teams each team will become an entity that relies upon specific individual contributions.
Algorithms that I have completed in this category are for the following sports: cricket, rugby league, gridiron, soccer, motor racing, thoroughbred racing and greyhound racing.
Globall was used to predict the winner of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament before a game had been played, and it also predicted the drubbing handed out to Brazil by Germany in the knock-out phase of that competition (though until that 7-1 score actually happened I erroneously assumed that there was a glitch somewhere in my system). Broken Castle has attracted attention from the Bradman Foundation, who wanted to finance its development as a game for mobile devices, though unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances that project did not go according to plan and is currently on hold.
With the exception of Broken Castle, print editions of these projects are not for sale to the public. Part of the reason for this is because the market is too specific and too time sensitive to release them in book form; if I had printed a small run of any of my football titles, they would be out of date by the following season and I would have surplus quantities of old stock to get rid of. Instead, I have listed them on my website so that interested parties can see what I am up to. If anyone is able to assist in getting anything built as a marketable computer game then I am certainly interested in having that conversation. As such, these projects are eyes-only manuals for professional programmers and potential backers.
Unlike the sporting themes, the military processes are extremely complex. They delve into almost every aspect of known technology and make limited assumptions about some of the classified material. Even the simplest formulae link multifaceted equations together. This is due chiefly to the undeniable fact that building state of the art weapons often requires integrating conflicting design requirements.
I have been working on these ideas since I was still in school, and I have perhaps the dubious distinction of having a larger library dedicated to this subject than many public libraries or private collections can boast. Furthermore, because I am intensely interested in this research, I know in which book I need to look for specific information, which can be at times mystifying to those who know me as a mostly normal human being. Since the invention of the internet, my studies have become somewhat more straightforward and a lot less expensive, though I will admit that I find it more comforting to have shelves of hardcopy to fall back upon in a pinch.
My research in this field has meant that I am now able to reconstruct military campaigns from any time since WW1, and to use the same processes to predict future outcomes, including accurate assessments of the expected effectiveness of weapons still under development so long as they meet the stated design specifications. For the record, in 2008 the RAND Corporation ran a simulation to test the latest Russian fighter designs against the pick of the USAF inventory. Their findings were very much in line with what I had been working on myself, though obviously I am not privy to everything that transpired between that meeting of boffins and it took me a lot longer to work through my own process, low tech as it is. Plus, none of my data is from classified sources, while maybe theirs is. Still, I seem to be on the same page if RAND has the right of it, and at a fraction of the budget.
Richthofen’s Reign is a 1:100 scale reconstruction of WW1 aerial combat, and accurately reproduces virtually every aspect of that campaign, including highlighting particularly intense periods of fighting and the shifting balance of power as new technology was introduced to each side in ever increasing numbers. This book was a derivative of a larger (as yet incomplete) work that details WW2 combined air, armoured and naval combat at the same scale.
At this stage I am still working on formatting three other projects, one of which uses verifiable data samples from historical wars to predict expected outcomes in hypothetical ones, including a speculative analysis of what the course of WW3 would have been if it had started in any year of the user’s choice post-1945.
Now that’s all very well and I will admit to being proud of my accomplishments concerning data analysis and game design, but it is also true that robotically crunching numbers for months at a time takes its toll on your brain and none of my projects are the product of small work-loads. In fact, while those that are complete invariably required many hours to formulate, test and compile (for example, Broken Castle necessitated upwards of ten thousand hours of grinding), some of the incomplete work has been ongoing for decades with no end in sight. You can’t sustain that kind of thing indefinitely!
In order to reset my mind, from time to time I simply have to put aside my calculator and go into a different head space: novels, some non-fiction and a smattering of poetry are the result. Some of these ideas tie in with my other work, and Fledglings is a good example of that. This was my first novel and it came into being by looking at the outcomes of Richthofen’s Reign and basing my story around those findings. That required a pile of additional research that did not involve data analysis, but because I actually enjoy research it was quite invigorating. Being my first novel it was fun to put together, though editing was something of a chore. Furthermore, I shamefully discovered that my spelling was nowhere near where it used to be when I was still at school, which I took as an opportunity to improve my personal development.
With sales of my novel ticking over at a rate that rivalled water torture (earning the kind of income that would be hard pressed to keep a hamster in a gulag alive), I wrote some other books, but these are different again. One is a collection of short stories and the only criteria that I held myself to is that they be funny (maybe not to everyone, though!) and true. A handful of pre-print copies are currently doing the rounds with various editors and proof-readers, so hang onto your hats, folks; that baby is nearly ready to go out into the big bad world in a way that may not even improve the world…
My second novel, which I only recently completed, was based upon an idea that I had been mulling over for a while, but which had plot problems that had been bugging me and seemed insoluble. Out of the blue, one night as I slept all of the solutions to my various minor dilemmas flashed into my head and when I awoke I had a bit of a think about whether the answers that my subconscious had thrown up made any sense. I talked the idea over with a friend and started working on the book that same day. The result was a retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of one of Achilles’ soldiers. That book is called The Myrmidon and it was lots of fun to write and almost as much fun to research. Completing that book came hot on the heels of my anthology, which made two books in a row with no maths in their DNA! Yay!
Each book I write teaches me new things about creative processes, which is also true for developing algorithms based on seemingly unrelated data samples. Having spent the last six months compiling more work that has been heavily reliant upon my calculator, once again I am just about ready to resume writing a novel I had been outlining when I became distracted by The Myrmidon. This next story makes a hypothetical prediction of what may come to pass sometime in the near future if the world continues to be run by people who have more nuclear weapons than brains. There has been some lively debate within my circle of friends on this subject, but I hold the pen and it is mightier than a sword and capable of silencing the loudest opinion! At least for a little while…
At the beginning of my bio I said that I liked dinosaurs. If you thought that statement was a hook to get you to continue reading down the page (which admittedly would only work if you were interested in dinosaurs), then I have both good news and bad news for you. Yes, I have written a book about dinosaurs. It is comprised of poetry that actually rhymes, which may offend some people (that is not the bad news). Unfortunately, the illustrations are very time-consuming so don’t hold your breath if you expect it will be ready any time soon. It won’t.
My to-do list keeps getting longer. I have more novels about the ancient Greeks in the pipeline, and a couple of shorter novels of various genres to knock over in between my major projects. Since WW2 is one of my primary interests, I have ambitions to write a sizeable series of fiction about that period too.