Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Predicting Chetan Bhagat's next book title



Chetan Bhagat is back, much to the joy of his fans and dismay of his critics, with his new masterpiece. It was expected that the title of the new book would contain a mere natural number, but Mr Bhagat had decided to take things to a different echelon by introducing a fraction: HALF.

This got me thinking: Chetan Bhagat, the doyen of Indian writing in the new millennium,  how does one predict the number the legend associates with his books?

I started off with the six numbers. Obviously 2020 skewed things significantly, but it was still a doable thing, thanks to Somnath's extraordinary knowledge of MS Excel (I cannot believe how much out of touch I am these days!). I decided not to complicate things and stick to a 6-degree polynomial instead.



Year Prefix N Suffix
2004
5
Point Someone
2005
1
Night @ The Call Centre
2008
3
Mistakes of My Life
2009
2
States: The Story of My Marriage
2011 Revolution
2020

2014
0.5
Girlfriend

This, in a nutshell, is what the list of book looks like. Look at how 2020 stands out amidst 5, 1, 3, 2, 0.5 (1/2). Let us fix the polynomial, then:


As is evident, this has been skewed significantly by 2020. Let us try to fit a 6-degree polynomial and check the results.

But then, Revolution 4 would not have a similar impact, since few are acquainted with the goings-on in the year 4 AD. And, as we know, Mr Bhagat, being the Voice of Young India, does not believe in facts from ancient times. Young India can be quite impatient at times: they may end up losing their voice and charging him an outrageous invoice, as an outcome of which hawkers may end up not selling his books to unsuspecting auto-rickshaw commuters ("serious books", anyone?).

We know that history (and being respectful to others' sentiments) is not Mr Bhagat's forte. For example, in this article on The Times of India, he has hurt the crushed of many an honest cinema-lover, myself included. But that is another story, and Greatbong has done such a wonderful work of it that it is not worth another go. Most importantly, it is not the topic of this article.


The equation does not look too good (once again, accommodating 2020 had made a mess of it). Despite that, we will use it to predict the number Mr Bhagat will use in his upcoming book.

Before beginning, however, there are a few disclaimers I should make:


Note:
1. This is not the best possible (but perhaps the easiest) way.
2. I had not been taught to predict numbers used in book names at any level of my non-illustrious academic career.
3. The number will depend on the year of release.

We have already got the polynomial, but the curve looks abysmal. It will not require a mathematician to predict that it will take a headlong plunge as I cross 2014 and move into the zone of the relative unknown.


What to do, then? Will using logarithms help? Let us check.

Year PrefixN Suffix Log N
2004
5
Point Someone
1.60944
2005
1
Night @ The Call Centre
0
2008
3
Mistakes of My Life
1.09861
2009
2
States: The Story of My Marriage
0.69315
2011 Revolution
2020

7.61085
2014
0.5
Girlfriend
-0.69315

This does not look too bad. Let us fit another polynomial now.


Not too bad, but as before, the dip is apparent. It does indeed seem that the number Mr Bhagat uses (if his new book comes out in 2015 or 2016) will be a very, very small value, almost close to zero. In fact, the later will it come out, the smaller the value.

There is nothing very wrong with this, though, given the fact that Mr Bhagat is an IITian and definitely has a penchant for numbers, big or small. Maybe the Voice of Youth would want to be remembered as The God of Small Things after his new book, which may hit the market sooner than we think.

Not too promising for the highest-grossing author of our times, is it not? It is not as bad as it looks like, though, since we have been taking logs.

The intersection point for 2015 is -50, which means that a book released on that particular year is 
e^(-50) 
or 
(1.93 x 10^(-22)) 
or
0.0000000000000000000001928749848

For people living in a domain too high for small numbers, this is a value that can be considered very, very close to zero. In other words, the name would contain the number 0.

***

I am not finished yet, though. Does the number 2020 not sound a bit off-track? What if Mr Bhagat did not want it to be part of the series? What if we drop the number and calculate the trend? The number is big enough — in the same way that Mr Bhagat himself is — to be considered an outlier. Let us check:


The value for 2015 now (yes, yes, I know there is no reason why I should consider a polynomial a best fit here) is
e^7
or
1096.633158
or approximately
1097, which seems a reasonable number to become a part of a book. One can only will hope it will make its way to the leagues of 1984, Farenheit 451, or One Hundred Years of Solitude. All these seem reasonable names for a book that, like its illustrious predecessors, will go on to change the face of the country, especially the youth. 

***

Moral of the story?

If you include Revolution 2020, the future of the series is zero. In other words, if you think the books involve revolutionary material in the series, you may be headed for a huge zero.

***

So, what are your guesses for the name of the upcoming pathbreaker?

***

PS: I had felt helpless without access to SAS and R. Then I called Somnath, and he taught me a thing or two about MS Excel. A huge thanks to Somnath, without whom this post would have been delayed or, worse, not been written.

30 comments:

  1. Here's my take: 2011 was an outlier so we should completely ignore it.in 2004 and 05, he brought out two books with numbers 5 and 1

    For the remaining observations - clearly CB is working in pairs (two by two, hands of blue).

    So in 2004 and 05, he brought out two books with numbers 5 and 1.

    In 2008 and 09, he brought out two books with numbers 3 and 2.

    By the same trend of first and second per two books, in 2014+x and 2015+x, he will bring out two books with titles containing 1 and 3 respectively.

    And then either he will go negative, or he will stop writing, or he will stop this pattern of twin books, and proceed with large numbers as in the outlier case. Maybe a

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The message remained incomplete, Apoorva. But I guess you have a point. A very valid point.

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    2. Or I thought I had a point... but I had not seen that he has actually already brought out a book! And with 0.5 in the title! (I thought you were making that up, sir :)...) So now my reasoning has to be modified... but I saw that CB himself commented on your blog, so let me write a complete message this time, and with - GOOD FOR YOU :). Your blog is reaching places now, OVda!

      Delete
    3. Erm, but are they the right places?

      Delete
  2. I agree with Rhiju. Tui bawdhho pagol.

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  3. CB does not deserve so much of your time! ;)

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  4. Sweetheart, despite CB's academic qualifications and your obsession with statistics- the simplest explanation is CB is a believer in numerology.

    After exhausting numbers 1 through 5 for his first phase of writing, in whatever random order his Mahaan Maths-wale Baba prophesised, he is now starting his new phase with .5 again, and is hoping to repeat his 'successful' stint. Watch out for more to come in the same order, but with numerical variants of the previous books. An author who doesn't give crap about his storyline, isn't going to put additional effort in naming the book.

    You will be surprised at how many hardcore technologists (and I have worked with quite a few) want the number '1' or the word 'next' in the names of their apps. And how they insist that we not use black in the brand colours (the darkest possible shade of blue perhaps? But not pure black, please!), or place their primary logo anywhere other than at the top-left of the page (most certainly not to repeat at the bottom of the page).

    You'd think degrees in science and technology assisted rational thinking.
    BUT, Mahaan Maths-wale Baba ki jai ho!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True indeed. Jai ho. I should have spotted the trend earlier. :(

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  5. P.S.- 2020 is 2+2 ( or even, 2*2)=4 (so he stuck to his concept of using the top 5 numbers, irrespective of how illogically random it may seem).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. How moronic was it of me to have not noticed that?

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  6. Groan! I was hoping there would be a post on twenty years of 'Hum Appke Hai Kaun'. Not this.

    Eta jah tah!

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    Replies
    1. I needed to do it for the Youth. There's nothing like Youthiappa.

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  7. What about the book called "What Young India Wants"???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had seen that coming, so I had my answer ready. Fiction only. :)

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  8. wow this article did get my brain working over time as well :P
    in my 'fluke' opinion i think the below logic does work:
    the number of 2015 has been derived to 1097. So the final number for his next book would be equal to the single digit sum of 1+0+9+7 = 1+7 = 8. And coincidentally the year 2015 is also equal to 2+0+1+5 = 8 :-)
    Hence the number in his book in 2015 has to have '8' in it ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're getting all sorts of ideas now. Keep them coming, guys!

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  9. you really must have been bored

    ReplyDelete
  10. ok here is a smaller take on perceptive of sequences( warning speculative purposes only) as Chetan cannot write books continiously, its better to treat the numbers as part of sequences and not continuous function.
    case 1 : when 2020 is included but 0's and decimals are stripped...
    (5, 1, 3, 2, 2, 2, 5,) .... 1, 2, 2, 5, . So the possibilities are if chetan decides not to use same numbers twice are:
    12 (11 minutes + 1 ?), 12:25 or even 102(marriage,religion?)
    case 2: without 2020
    (5, 1, 3, 2, 5,)... 1, 9, 1, 2, So 19, 1912 ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the way you think. You have opened up an ocean of options, mate!

      Delete
  11. The important thing here is you have access to Excel but not R? Is this some kind of smartphone universe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was surprised that nobody had asked me this. Downloading was a challenge, but Excel came installed. Hence.

      BTW, I have access to Excel, but I don't excel in Access. Just saying.

      Delete
  12. He is very good author and very nice person too. Now as you know his new Book Half Girlfriend also releasing. I am already exited for Half Girlfriend. Till, my favorite book is Revolution 2020.

    ReplyDelete

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