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How Deep Learning Mimics the Brain in Processing Data

Muneeb Chawla is an Aurora, Colorado-based IT professional with experience in technical areas such as natural language processing and machine learning. Among the areas of the latter domain in which Muneeb Chawla has in-depth knowledge is deep learning. This focuses on algorithms that reflect artificial neural networks, which are based on the function and structure of the human brain.

The advantage of a brain simulation approach is that it improves and simplifies the use of learning algorithms, and also represents a viable pathway toward real artificial intelligence (AI). Another important aspect of such systems is scale, with larger neural networks able to be trained with huge data loads in ways that boost performance. This avoids the “performance plateau” common in other types of machine learning.

Beyond scalability, deep learning models offer automatic feature extraction (feature learning), which uses a “hierarchy of concepts approach.” This enables the computer program to drill down and build on simple concepts when learning complex concepts. With computing power steadily increasing and ever larger datasets available, neural networks have the potential to achieve real-time object and sound recognition, which in turn is used to increase the performance of many everyday tasks.

Basic Curling Strategies with the Hammer

Based in Colorado, Muneeb Chawla is a senior data scientist who works with technologies such as machine learning in developing networks. A sports enthusiast, Muneeb Chawla enjoys karate to sky diving in his free time. He has also tried ice sport curling.

Curling is a tactical game that requires precision and involves sets of team throws to gain points by knocking out opponents’ stones and leaving your stones within the house (the concentric circles on ice).

The offense focuses on the hammer or situations where your team is on the offensive and attempting to score two or more points. The major advantage of the hammer is that your team is in control of the outcome, as it throws the last stone, and the opponent cannot place the last shot.

The best strategy for scoring at least two points is to begin by throwing a corner guard away from the centerline. This stone is positioned such that another stone can be thrown behind it while still leaving a scoring opportunity open (hitting the stone into the house).

At the same time, maintain an open middle of the sheet, as this offers defensive benefits. For example, the stone can be knocked out if the opponent tries for a center guard (guarding the house). Should the opponent throw into the house, your team can attempt a takeout or lighter hit. Conversely, when the team does not have a hammer, it tries to limit the opponent to a single point.

How Neural Networks Perform Complex Tasks

Based in Aurora, Colorado, Muneeb Chawla is a tech entrepreneur with a background in areas such as machine learning, natural language processing, and statistics. In his work as a data scientist, Muneeb Chawla has also developed neural networks, which lie at the center of deep learning algorithms.

Also known as artificial neural networks (ANNs), these constructs have a structure that mimics the human brain in the way that neurons rapidly signal to each other within a complex environment.

Unlike the brain, ANNs are made up of node layers that have an input layer and a number of hidden layers, as well as an output layer. Every node connects to another node, with each possessing a specified weight and activation threshold. When a node surpasses the threshold value, it is activated and sends data to the network’s next layer.

Over an extended period, training data is used by neural networks to boost accuracy. Once the networks have been fine-tuned, they can be employed as AI tools that enable high velocity data to be clustered and classified. Practical uses of this include image and speech recognition. The search algorithm of Google is another example of a neural network that rapidly filters mass data and delivers relevant results.

The Fastest Racket Sport in the World

Muneeb Chawla has served OPTUM in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, as a senior data scientist since 2021. When he is not developing machine learning solutions for the OPTUM information technology department, Muneeb Chawla enjoys leading an active lifestyle. His personal interests include hiking and playing badminton.

According to the Association of Tennis Professionals, the fastest serve in the history of the sport was recorded by American John Isner, who delivered a 157.2-mile-per-hour serve during a 2016 Davis Cup rubber match against Australian Bernard Tomic. While impressive, Isner’s serve pales in comparison to the world’s fastest racket sport – badminton.

Badminton is a racket sport with somewhat similar rules and equipment to tennis. However, while tennis players use a tennis ball, badminton players exchange rallies using a birdie, or shuttlecock. Birdies can be made of various materials, but they typically consist of a rounded cork tip with goose feathers attached.

Badminton rules dictate that serves must be delivered using an underhand motion, meaning serves typically travel at only a few miles per hour. However, overhead smashes can send the birdie traveling at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. In fact, Mads Pieler Kolding holds the record for the world’s fastest badminton smash at 264.7 miles per hour.

Some Benefits of Swimming

Drawing on more than 15 years of experience in engineering and data science, Muneeb Chawla is a senior data scientist with Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Optum, a technology and data health care provider. Outside work, Muneeb Chawla is an avid biker and swimmer.

Besides working out the whole body, swimming affords multiple benefits. Most types of exercise fall into one of the two categories: highly intensive and strenuous on the joints or less intensive and gentle on the joints. Swimming, however, appears to unite the advantages of both. While it can be intensive enough, it spares the joints.

As reported by the American Council, the natural buoyancy of water holds the body up, thus reducing the moving body weight by 90 percent, which, in turn, also lowers the impact on the bones, joints, and muscles and minimizes potential injuries. By comparison, with running, people can experience short impacts of five to ten times their body weight on their hips, knees, and ankles.

Generally, all forms of exercise can aid in reducing stress, as they decrease the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and produce endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Multiple studies have demonstrated the calming effects of swimming too.

In 2012, Speedo commissioned an international study, which showed that over 74 percent of the participants felt less stressed after swimming, and 70 percent experienced a mental refreshment. Another study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports, and Health encompassed 101 people at a YMCA in New Taipei City, Taiwan. Nearly half of them stated they were stressed out and felt mildly depressed. After they swam, only eight reported continuing to feel the same.

A 2017 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine explored the relationship between specific physical activities and long-term health effects. It indicated that swimming regularly significantly lowers the possibility of dying from cardiovascular disease (over 40 percent) or any cause (almost 30 percent).

Planning a Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter

One of the world’s longest mountain ranges, the Rocky Mountains stretch from Alaska to the southern border of the US. Rocky Mountain National Park, located in Colorado, preserves part of the mountains’ ecosystem, and is a popular destination for adventurers. Everyday recreational activities that people enjoy in the park include hiking, camping, and viewing wildlife. In the winter, other recreation activities include cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing.

The Rocky Mountains’ elevations range from 7,800 feet to over 14,000 feet above sea level, which considerably influences winter conditions. For example, at locations above 8,000 feet, winter can begin in late September or early October and go through late May or early June. Therefore, those visiting Rocky Mountain National Park during the winter should expect some challenges and plan for them.

For instance, it is essential to prepare for driving in the park during winter. The park roads tend to become icy and packed with snow, so the recommendation is to slow down and keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Before leaving home, visitors can check if any of the roads are closed due to adverse conditions. Also, during the winter season, the Colorado Vehicle Traction law may become active for the safety of motorists. The law requires that all vehicles have a minimum of 3/16″ tread and be mud and snow, mountain and snow, or all-weather tires.

During winter, most park trails are also icy or snow-covered. Rocky Mountain National Park recommends bringing traction devices and hiking poles, as well as snowshoes, depending on the destination and whether recent snowfall has occurred. Although some lakes may appear frozen, ice may not be firm enough to walk on. There could be open water along edges, inlets, and outlets. When walking on park trails, one should also plan for windy weather with drifting or blowing snow.

Moreover, avalanches are expected in the park during the winter. For this reason, it is essential to visit the avalanche awareness web page at the National Park Service website and check the snow conditions and forecasts in the mountains before leaving the house. Some tips for avalanche safety include avoiding snowshoeing or skiing on unforested slopes, gullies, and under snow cornices where there is risk of an avalanche. Attending an avalanche training session before the trip to understand and identify the changing weather that can influence avalanche conditions and wearing an electronic transceiver when crossing avalanche terrain are also recommended.

Last, planning for recreational activities is fundamental for enjoying a winter visit to the park. Visitors can explore most park trails with snowshoes and a few other pieces of gear, such as waterproof boots, hiking poles, and waterproof pants or gaiters. From January to March, the park offers free ranger-led snowshoe hikes on both its west and east sides. Cross-country skiing is also popular in the Rocky Mountains, and one only needs skis and poles with large baskets to explore deeper snows and the terrain on the west side of the park. However, when it comes to sledding, the activity is only allowed at Hidden Valley, which is on the east side of the park, seven miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance and the Fall River Entrance.

Common Bowling Mistakes and How to Correct Them

With time and practice, bowlers usually develop their own style of “throwing” a bowling ball. However, the majority of them make the same mistakes during the process. These include poor stance, drifting, speeding up approach and delivery, and dropping or lofting the ball upon release.

Proper stance is crucial for a successful shot. A good bowling arm swing should resemble a pendulum and go straight back and forward. Many bowlers, however, tend to hold the bowling ball at about the middle of their chest while in the stance. Having the ball so far inside forces them to move their arm to the side and back around their bodies for the backswing, which may disturb their release. The result is potential gutter balls and overall poor throws. To be able to swing the ball back and straight forward, bowlers should instead hold it out to the same side of their bodies where their dominant bowling hand is.

Drifting can be equally detrimental. It occurs when a bowler has one board as a starting point but ends up on a different one at the foul line when they release. In short, they have “drifted” to one side or another. To avoid this, bowlers should choose a starting point, execute a practice approach without the ball, and then look down to check whether they have ended up on the same board. Looking down in the middle of the shot is not advisable, as it may affect other delivery areas. Alternatively, they can ask a friend to observe them and tell them whether their movement toward the foul line stays straight.

Having a proper approach and delivery speed is also among the problematic areas for many bowlers. A common fault is to rush to throw the ball, which results in an off-balanced release, inaccurate throws, and very few strikes. They mistakenly think that they need to speed up to the foul lane to generate a powerful enough shot to knock down pins. In actuality, slowing down and adopting a deliberate approach can significantly improve their game and make up for a more powerful throw. Professional bowlers are aware of this, and as a result they take their time.

Timing is critical for releasing the ball, too. A perfect bowling release requires releasing the ball just past the foul line. But the majority of bowlers get the timing wrong and let it go too early. As a result, the ball drops hard on the lane instead of being smoothly released.

To fix this, bowlers should ensure they let go of the ball only after their foot starts to slide on the final step and they are almost to the foul line. Often bowlers may not be aware they drop the ball. Again, asking a friend to confirm where it first touches the lane can be helpful.

Finally, many bowlers incorrectly think they need to throw the ball to generate power. A lofted ball lands hard on the lane surface and is almost impossible to control. Any ball landing more than three feet past the foul lane indicates excessive loft.

Most often, lofting is a result of releasing the ball too late. To correct this, bowlers must make sure they remove their thumb at the moment their foot slides to the foul line and immediately follow with the remaining two fingers. Another possible reason for too much loft is an improperly fitted bowling ball, which hampers the timely release of the fingers. Consulting with a professional at the bowling shop can solve this issue.

Analog vs. Digital Signals

As signals, both analog and digital signals denote an electromagnetic or electrical current used for transmitting information between systems or networks. The two, however, differ fundamentally in their characteristics and applications. In addition, they feature different advantages and disadvantages.

Analog signals are time-varying and have a minimum and maximum value, typically ranging from +12 Volts to -12 Volts. However, an infinite number of values exist within this continuous range. Analog signals use a specific property of the medium to convey the information. For example, to represent the information in an electrical signal moving through a wire, one can vary its voltage, current, or frequency.

Analog signals measure changes in natural or physical phenomena such as colors, lights, sounds, temperature, pressure, and position. When represented in a voltage vs. time graph, an analog signal is a smooth, continuous sine wave without any discrete value changes.

Technological advances have led to the digitization of traditional audio and communication systems using analog signals. However, most systems interacting with real-world signals continue using analog interfaces for information capturing or transmission. Common analog signal applications include audio recording and reproduction, temperature and image sensors, and radio signals and control systems.

Among the main advantages of analog signals are easier processing, higher density, and the ability to represent more refined data. They are the best fit for transmitting audio and video. Furthermore, they more accurately represent changes in real-life signals. Analog signals use less bandwidth, or a range of frequencies within a band, compared to their digital counterparts. And communication systems using them display less sensitivity concerning electrical tolerance.

On the downside, in the case of long-distance data transmission, using analog signals may lead to undesirable signal disturbances. Analog cables are highly susceptible to external influences, and analog wire is expensive and lacks ease of portability. Analog signals also tend to have higher generation loss or progressive loss of quality when making copies of the source material. Generally, they are more prone to noise and distortion and are of lower quality than digital signals.

Digital signals, on the other hand, represent information as a sequence of discrete values. They can take on a single value from a fixed set of possible values at a specific moment. Digital signals carry the data in binary format (zero or one), and each bit represents two distinct amplitudes. In a voltage vs. time graph, digital signals form square waves, with small discrete steps.

The physical quantity representing the information in digital signals can come from variable electric current or voltage, an electromagnetic field phase or polarization, or the magnetization of a magnetic storage medium. Digital signals find a wide application in broadband and cellular communication systems, networking and data communications, and computing and digital electronics.

The key advantages of digital signals include the ability to convey information over long distances with better quality and higher accuracy, combined with a lower error probability rate. Digital signals are highly noise and distortion-immune, and the deployment of error detection and correction codes ensures their accuracy while minimizing errors. They are simple and relatively low-cost to mass reproduce and easy to store on all types of magnetic or optical media via semiconductor chips. In addition, digital signal processing offers higher security thanks to the ease in which digital data can be encrypted and compressed.

In terms of disadvantages, digital signals communication and processes require higher bandwidth and more complex hardware resources, which in turn mandate higher power dissipation than their analog counterparts. Furthermore, sampling, or the process of converting analog signals to digital ones, may result in the loss of information.

A Brief History of Curling at the Winter Olympics

Although its origins date back to 16th century Scotland, curling wasn’t perceived as a “legitimate” sport until the 19th century, when the Grand Caledonian Curling Club created its official rules. Today, the sport is played on an indoor sheet of ice 150 feet by 16.5 feet that features a three-ring circle known as a “house.” Teams of four compete against each other with each player throwing (actually pushing) two stones (large heavy discs with handles on top) into the house per end. There are 10 ends in a typical curling match. Teams are awarded one point for each of its stones that are closer to the “button” (the middle of the three-ring circle) than those stones thrown by the opposing team.

Curling was included as part of the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924. Great Britain won the first-ever Olympic curling gold in the men’s competition, while Sweden and France earned silver and bronze, respectively. There was no women’s competition in the 1924 Chamonix Games.

Despite its history, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) dropped curling from the Olympic program after 1924. It reintroduced curling as a demonstration sport at the 1932 Lake Placid Games. Curling was again contested as a demonstration sport in 1988 and 1992. The IOC approved its status as a medal sport with men’s and women’s events for the 1998 Nagano Games.

The Switzerland rink led by skip Patrick Hurlimann won gold in the men’s event at the 1998 Nagano Games. Switzerland finished tied with Canada for the best record at 7-2, and defeated Canada 9-3 in the gold medal game. Norway won the bronze with a 9-4 victory over the United States. Sandra Schmirler’s Canadian rink became the first group of women to win an Olympic curling gold medal following a 7-5 victory over Denmark in the final. Sweden defeated Great Britain to win the bronze medal.

Curling has since been contested at each of the following Winter Olympics, including the recently concluded Beijing 2022 Games. Canada and Sweden have been the most dominant nations, winning nine of the 15 gold medals awarded in men’s and women’s competition since the first event at the 1924 Chamonix Games. Canada also won the inaugural gold medal in the mixed doubles event at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

Niklas Edin’s Sweden rink is the most accomplished curling team in Olympic history. Edin led the rink to a gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Games and won a silver and bronze in 2018 and 2014, respectively. Agnes Knochenhauer and Oskar Eriksson have been part of each of those medal-winning teams. Eriksson, meanwhile, is the only curler in Olympic history with four medals, as he also won bronze in mixed doubles in Beijing.

Nine other curlers from Sweden have won multiple Olympic medals, while six Canadian curlers have also accomplished this feat. Others to win two Olympic curling medals include Eve Muirhead (Great Britain), Torger Nergard (Norway), and Mirjam Ott (Switzerland).

While Canada leads all nations with 12 curling medals, it hasn’t been as dominant in the past two Winter Olympics. The Canadian men and women won a medal at every Winter Olympics from 1998 to 2014. In the 2014 Sochi Games, Canada became the only nation to win gold in men’s and women’s curling. Since then, Canada has only claimed a gold in mixed doubles (2018) and bronze in the men’s event (2022).

In addition to its gold medal win in the men’s competition at the Beijing Games, Sweden won bronze in both the women’s and mixed doubles competitions. It now has 11 Olympic medals in curling. Great Britain defeated Japan in the women’s final, and Italy defeated Norway in the mixed doubles final.

Canada Defeats US in Latest Chapter of Olympic Women’s Hockey Rivalry

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Canada and the United States have met in the gold medal game at each of the seven Winter Olympics that women’s ice hockey has been contested, dating back to the 1998 Nagano Games. Canada, after losing to the US in the gold medal final at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and failing to reach the final of the 2019 World Championship, experienced a redemption of sorts as it defeated the US 3-2 in the final of the 2022 Beijing Games. The Canadian women have now won five of the seven Olympic gold medals in women’s ice hockey.

The US ended Canada’s run of four consecutive gold medals in 2018 with a 3-2 shootout victory. After another disappointing result the following year at the 2019 World Championships, Canadian general manager Gina Kingsbury distributed a clock to each player on the team with a countdown displaying the exact seconds until the start of the 2022 Beijing Games. Canada won the 2021 World Championships in August and concluded its redemption tour with a 3-2 victory over the US in Beijing to win its first Olympic gold medal since 2014.

Marie-Philip Poulin led the charge offensively for Canada, which had previously defeated the Americans in the round robin and outscored its opposition 57-10 through its first seven games of the tournament. Poulin scored two goals, including the game-winner, to cement her legacy as Canada’s “Captain Clutch.” Poulin has scored a combined seven goals through four Olympic finals. She scored the overtime winner against the US in 2014 and scored both of Canada’s goals in its 2-0 victory over the Americans in the 2010 Olympic final. She’s the only player (male or female) in Olympic history to score in four Olympic gold medal games.

Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the gold medal game, but the Americans fought back to make it close and ultimately outshot Canada 40-21. Hilary Knight cut the US’ deficit to two goals with a short-handed goal in the second period and Amanda Kessel added a power-play goal with a dozen seconds left in the game to close the gap to one. Canadian goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped 38 of the 40 shots she faced to earn the victory.

In addition to the impressive play of Poulin and Desbiens, Canada received contributions from players throughout its lineup. The team scored a record 57 goals in the tournament, surpassing their previous record of 44 in 2010. Sarah Nurse, the first Black woman to win an ice hockey Olympic gold medal, had one goal and one assist in the final and led all players in tournament scoring with 18 points. She now holds the record for most points in a single tournament.

Brianne Jenner, who played on a line with Poulin and Nurse, led all players in goals in the tournament with nine and was named MVP. Canadian defensive player Claire Thompson, meanwhile, scored three goals and added 10 assists to lead all defenders in scoring.

Canada reached the final after recording an 11-0 victory over Sweden and 10-3 win over Switzerland in the quarter-final and semifinal, respectively. The Americans scored 4-1 victories over both the Czech Republic and Finland to advance to the gold medal game. Finland defeated Switzerland 4-0 in the bronze medal game.