Amit Bhatnagar on on November 28, 2012

I agree with this!  When it comes to friendship, I have always been a “Quality over Quantity” guy. I have always had a few very close friends, and a lot of acquaintances, and even a guy like me has 800+ friends on Facebook! And that’s not a lot: the last I checked, 94 of my friends have 1000 or more friends!

1000 friends! Is it possible for someone to have 1000 real friends! Studies suggest that there is actually a limit to the number of social relationships one can maintain, and for most people, the number is somewhere between  100 and 230 (150 is the commonly used number) This is called Dunbar’s number named after British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who did some research on this topic. (Read more about this here: Dunbar’s number)

But Dunbar’s analysis is from pre-social media days. (His article was first published in 1992) Is it possible that with the advent of social media, the mankind has suddenly become more “social”? Apparently not! Read about this guy’s attempts to take on Dunbar, or may be try your own experiment. Either way, I am sure you will come up with similar results!
Dunbar’s Number Kicked My Ass in Facebook Friends Experiment | Underwire |

The cartoon strip below is profound and funny at the same time, and sums up everything I have said above.

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Amit Bhatnagar on on November 15, 2012

Amit is one of the most common Indian names in my generation, thanks to immense popularity of Amitabh Bachchan, who also goes by Amit (the shortened version of his name). Hence, in my school days, I was always one of three or four Amits in the class. When I came to the US in 2009, I thought this would end, but instead, I started meeting Amit Bhatnagars too, in addition to lots of just Amits!

This has led to many memorable incidents: some amusing, and some irritating and frustrating. I am listing a few here in no particular order:

  • When I came to the business school, I did not get the standard firstname_lastname B-school email address. Why? Because there was another alumnus from class of 2008 with the same first name and last name! Later when I met this guy at a university event, his first reaction on meeting me was “I have a bone to pick with you. One year, after graduation, I have suddenly started getting emails asking me to complete questions from team-assignments!” Apparently, my teammates were picking the first name suggested by auto-complete, and this was sending emails to the wrong Amit Bhatnagar!
  • During one of the job-interviews, I did not receive the second round interview invite by email. Instead, I got a call from their travel desk asking for my details to book travel for second round. I followed up and got to know that I had indeed made it to the second round, but it appears that the recruiting coordinator had just assumed that my university email ID would be firstname_lastname, like everyone else from my school, and sent the second round invite to the other Amit Bhatnagar!
  • At the pre-interview breakfast before the second round interview of the same company as above, all the candidates had an introduction session with the HR, where  each of us had to share some elementary information and a “fun-fact”  about oneself. I couldn’t think of a better fun fact than the Amit-story, and  everyone had a good laugh at my situation! But more was to come: the  fun-fact for the girl sitting next to me!
    Believe it or not! Her  husband’s name was “Amit Bhatnagar” (Yes, a third one!) and her university friends in the  common interview invite list were thinking that both of them were  appearing for the same interview!
  • When I moved to SF, I met a distant cousin with same first and last names (Fourth, if you are counting!) We meet regularly at festivals and family gatherings, but thankfully, no confusing incidents so far!

Some incidents around just first common name:

  • In the first year of engineering, four guys used to share one hostel room. Three out of four in my room were Amits! The hostel had a common phone for incoming calls from  families of students (Most of us didn’t have cell-phones at that time),  and one day, when Amit#2 turned  up twice for phone calls meant for Amit #1 (me) and Amit #3, he  instituted a rule: The callers should be asking for the person they want  to talk to by their last name!
  • At my B-school, there were four Amits in my class! Apparently, my B-school has a tradition of admitting Amits.. There were at least three Amits in each of three classes senior to mine!
  • My wife’s name is Priyanka Amit Bhatnagar. Now, Priyanka is another very common Indian name. Incidentally, one of my very good school friends (another Amit) recently got married, and his wife is also named Priyanka! We haven’t met after his wedding, but I can imagine the confusions, when we meet!

I had shared these experiences (and some more) on my blog some time ago:  Plight of being an “Amit”

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Praveen Reddy Vaka and Anon-User have already demonstrated two mathematically correct ways of handling this. I will discuss a slightly less accurate, but a reasonably practical and relatively easy approach using Excel:

  1. Let the four square corners of the square sit at (0,0), (0,1), (1,0) and (1,1). So, the square center A will always be at (0.5,0.5). Now, take two random points by generating coordinates using Excel’s rand() function, which generates a random number between 0 and 1, hence guaranteeing the coordinate to be within the square.
  2. Calculate the radius r of the circle by dividing the distance between Point1 and Point2 by 2
  3. Locate the center O of the circle by calculating the midpoint of Point1 and Point2.
  4. Calculate the length of OA, i.e. the distance between square center and circle center
  5. Define Success: Center of the square is with in the circle (r > OA). Assign 1 to success and 0 to failure
  6. Repeat the process a large number of times in excel and estimate the probability by dividing success count by iteration count.
  7. Press F9 a few times to refresh the data, and you will see that the probability is around 0.5
  8. (Optional) If you have access to any advanced too like @Risk from Palisade, you can automate step 6 for a number of times, and graphically see the probability converging around 0.5

A screenshot of my excel solution for this is included below:

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Amit Bhatnagar on on November 9, 2012

Someone from Quora can confirm this, but based on what I have observed, I don’t think they are using any third party tool for A/B testing.

I use a tool called Ghostery (browser extension) for this purpose. If the website is using any of the popular third party platforms for web-analytics, tag-management, ad-serving, or A/B testing, Ghostery will be able to detect those. Of course, if you are doing this in-house, it won’t detect anything.

This is what Ghostery detected for Quora:

So, it does not appear that they are using any of the popular third party tools.

Ghostery does detect most third party A/B testing tools, if present:
Optimizely – Analysis by Ghostery
Adobe Digital Marketing (Omniture)
Visual Website Optimiser (Wingify)

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