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Stanford student gaining cult status for rethinking NBA philosophy

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Young man used drug-discovery software to conclude that basketball actually has 10 positions rather than 5.

This is truly brilliant:

Alagappan likes to open with a parable about medicine, noting that almost two thousand years ago the Roman physician Galen theorized that all illnesses could be classified under one of four bodily fluids. As science evolved, doctors grew to understand that diseases and their cures were much more complex.

And so it is now with basketball, Alagappan says, arguing that the oversimplified constructs of point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center should be replaced by a more sophisticated list of positions as varied as "low-usage ball-handlers," like Trevor Ariza and Courtney Lee, to "mid-range big men" like Brandon Bass and Glenn Davis.

Even youth league coaches know that the traditional positions are just rough sketches and that, say, some point guards are pass-first while some are eager shooters. But Alagappan says Ayasdi's software offers a chance to identify precise or even undetected differences, and to therefore scheme with more precision.

Founded in 2008 by Stanford academics, Ayasdi makes sense of complicated data sets by arranging them in shapes, using topology. Gunnar Carlsson, a Stanford mathematics professor and company co-founder, explained to the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that topology helps researchers look at a set of data and think about its similarities, even when some of the underlying details may be different.

The company's signature software, "Iris," has been credited for breakthroughs in accelerated drug discovery, breast cancer mutations, diabetes types, leukemia treatments, financial fraud and environmental issues.

Worth watching:

Stanford student gaining cult status for rethinking NBA philosophy - San Jose Mercury News

Ayasdi has incredible technology.

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