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Course Instructor

Instructor Bio

Exponentials: Epidemics, Cryptography, Forest Fires, AI

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

Albert A Bartlett


Apr 15,16 (6-7pm); Apr 17 (10am-12noon), Apr 18 (10-11am)

The SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic's exponential growth has already changed the world we live in. It took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases; the next 100,000 cases took just 11 days, and the third 100,000 cases took 4 days. Most of us find it hard to appreciate and predict such a rapid rate of growth at the initial stages, because it is intuitively difficult to understand the power of the exponential.

But exponential growth isn't limited to just viruses. We can find it everywhere in life. This is the same reason why a student studying less than an hour a day for a very long time is often far more successful than a student studying 16-hours per day just before the exams. This is also the reason why compound interest over a long time on small savings will result in a fortune.

This course will help students develop an intuition for the power of exponential growth by investigating examples as diverse as Ponzi schemes, spread of forest fires, length of passwords and cryptography, virus multiplication, AI and the singularity.


In the final part of the course, students will learn about different techniques to slow exponential growth (or ‘bend the curve’). For example, how one can slow down the spread of a virus.

Register for the course here, and listen to a recording of a 30-min Orientation session held in early April, 2020, here.

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