Wednesday, November 05, 2008

US election result

It is known (see this article) that foreigners (to the USA) strongly preferred Obama to McCain. Also, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that academics generally strongly prefer Obama. Being a non-USA academic, it should come as no surprise that I too was backing the winner.

A purist might note that the above conclusion makes some sort of statistical assumption along the lines of "naive Bayes" that two distinct indicators for an outcome should independently add to our belief in that outcome. And as it happens, that's a good observation in this case -- for foreign academics there is a potential downside to the Obama victory.

The problem is easy to state. The academic marketplace, both for students and faculty, has become increasingly globalised. And in the world's leading English-speaking nation, the conditions look much improved for it to become a magnet for students and staff alike. When it comes to recruiting overseas students, and retaining staff, the UK and Australia have maybe had a relatively easy ride over the last few years.

Still, I supported Obama anyway, and here is the "professional" reason. Few academics can afford to turn their backs on the USA. And the USA, with its dominance of the algorithms and computational complexity scene, is extra important to those of us in that field. The European algorithms community is better-off for having their American counterparts in a nation that is willing to work with and cooperate with the rest of the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?