"Dirk Niblick" Dirk is off on a Western adventure in Part One of "Go West Young Mathematician" "Bureau of Missing Numbers: 14" Repeat of a segment that first appeared in Episode 101 "Dirk Niblick 2" Continuation of "Go West Young Mathematician" "Time Check" Mathman gets involved in a time check: Since 3/8 of the show is behind us, how much is left? "Mathnet: The Case of the Deceptive Data Part 2" Arriving at the office in the morning, Kate says that she watched the Vicious Vinnie Show and that it was pretty bad. George calls it disgusting. George says he's not done yet with the fight to save The Mike Pliers Show. He's booked an appointment for them and the show's fan club President to visit the headquarters of the Hoover Rating Service to learn more about this ratings process that apparently got Mike's show cancelled. It's a very security-conscious company, but they've been permission to come over. He gets a call - they're due in at 10:30. They go to pick up the fan club president and then arrive at the ratings service. After signing in and receiving photo IDs with important personal information, they meet up with a company representative, Mr. Wellworth Watching. They introduce themselves as Mathnet and Mr. Watching wonders if they've been on television before. They say that they haven't, but Mr. Watching says that he has and that he was wonderful. They ask him what happened to The Mike Pliers Show. Geri Lynn introduces herself and Mr. Watching says that Mike's numbers went sour. He says that people got tired of him and that numbers don't lie. Even though the show may have been good, the ratings don't measure quality. He understands this himself because he feels that if they did measure quality, he would still be on the air. George remembers his program and doesn't seem to think much of it. Kate doesn't remember it at all. Mr. Watching says that it had a small but loyal audience. The Mathnetters ask him to explain how his sample works. He says that many people ask about it, so he's set up a demonstration. He's set up a bin full of flat green and yellow marbles. He has Geri don a blindfold so she can do a sampling experiment. He has her count out one thousand random marbles from the bin, explaining that the marbles are thoroughly mixed after every experiment. Geri draws 1,000 and then George counts the number of green marbles. There are a total of 284 green marbles that were drawn out of the 1,000. Therefore, the rest, 716, were yellow. Mr. Watching says to pretend that all the marbles in the bin represent people watching television and they have a choice of two shows which they can watch. Geri protests that she could possibly watch up to ten shows at any one time, but Mr. Watching says that it's just for simplification. Mr. Watching says that the rating for the green marbles is 28.4%. He shows them a chart that shows the last twenty people who did the experiment. He points out that everyone's results, although mostly different, almost all fall in a certain range, 270-300. There are rare execptions, but statistics show that the margin of error is generally no more than 3% in any direction and therefore it's quite accurate. As it turns out, 30% of the marbles in the container are green and sampling seems to give decent estimates. It's precisely how they measure TV ratings. The viewers live in what they call TV households and they sample them carefully, like the marbles to estimate what everyone is watching. There are 450 people in the sample and they can measure what people are watching with an average accuracy of about 3%. Still, Geri wants to know why the show was taken off. Then, a masked man shows up and says that he wants to talk with Mr. Watching. Seeing the Mathnetters and Geri, he gets ready to leave, but Mr. Watching calls him Mr. Hoover and tells him about how he was demonstrating the sampling process for the Mathnetters. Mr. Hoover says to carry on and leaves. They carry on, George wondering if the people in the sample know that they're a part of it. Mr. Watching says that they do and that they have tamper-proof computer boxes that record viewing information. Their system is very secure. He says that TV ratings isn't the only thing they can measure and dismisses himself, saying he has another meeting. He hands George some more information and says to turn their passes into the guard. Back at HQ, George is looking over the information, when Kate gets a phone call. After some conversation, she hangs up. She tells George that the call was Mr. Hoover. He wants to set up a secret meeting. Someone broke into his computer system.moreless
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