Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Best Musical Score (By a Laptop)," by James Barron. New York Times, 26 June 2004, pageA13.

John A. MacBain is using statistics to try to take some of the subjectivity outof judging musical competitions. The article does not specify what formula heuses, but does say that he uses Excel to convert judges' scores so that theycan be combined and a winner can be chosen. MacBain's method removes thepossibility that a factor like playing early in a competition could hurt acompetitor. The article outlines the actual process of how the scores areentered and verified, as well as judges' reactions to using their scores andstatistics to determine the winner. MacBain's program has been used in theInternational Violin Competition and the Van Cliburn International PianoCompetition.

--- Mike Breen