Mapping Breakthroughs, Bayesian Big Data and the Mad Queen of Game of Thrones!




Sixteenth century Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis was well positioned to pursue his passion for mapping as he was reported to be a frequent visitor to the Imperial Library at Constantinople. Admiral Reis reportedly compiled his maps by collecting data from maps dating back to the 4th Century AD when Emperor Constantius founded the great library (a background video is here). Wise Themistius, a “Hellenic philosopher-statesman”, assembled a great number of calligraphers, librarians and cartographers to document the realm of the empire. He advised moderation, advised Roman emperors, and advocated tolerance of pagan religions – and helped to assemble 130,000 volumes. Wiki notes that, “the merchant class became a force of its own,  achieved through efficient use of credit and other monetary innovations. Merchants invested surplus funds in financial products called chreokoinonia (Greek: χρεοκοινωνία), the equivalent and perhaps ancestor of the later Italian commenda. Eventually, the purchasing power of Byzantine merchants became such that it could influence prices in markets as far afield as Cairo and Alexandria.”  The Sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade destroyed the library so locating this surviving fragment of a 1513 Piri Reis map on gazelle skin is rare- it shows the Central and South America shores with his annotation offering that “the map of the western lands (is) drawn by Columbus.” Florentine intellectual Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli proposed that sailing west would lead to India eventually. So Christopher Columbus, rumored to be a charmer, zeroed in on Queen Isabella in search of funding for his “quest to find India” – instead he enslaved the Caribbean natives in search of gold and spices.

Picture Credit:

With the launch of satellites (Sputnik 1 in 1957) and the continuous improvement of radar, mapping has become more precise. And India is taking the lead in satellite launches with a genuine achievement of putting 20 satellites on one rocket this summer. The UK Telegraph explains that, “India’s bulk launch makes clear India’s ambition to become a key player in a growing commercial space market, undercutting rivals such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. In May (2016), India tested a “reusable” space shuttle, and in 2013, launched a probe that reached the orbit of Mars for just £50m. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has achieved a number of milestones in space including:

NAVIC: Completion of the seventh consecutive successful launch of the navigation satellite with IRNSS-1G, which is the last of the constellation that will make India self-sufficient with indigenous navigation system. With NAVIC providing vital information about the India and its surrounding terrains with a special positioning and a separate precision service, it will reduce the country’s dependency on US Global Positioning System (GPS).


Picture Credit: Navinet and ISRO NAVIC

Mangalyaan: ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)  successfully entered the Martian orbit on September 2014 in its maiden attempt at a minuscule cost of $74M. India became the first country to successfully complete maiden Mars mission and also the fourth country to successfully venture into Mars.

Mission PSLV C28 and GLSL: In a push to service the commercial market,  PSLV C28 was the heaviest commercial mission undertaken by ISRO which successfully launched five UK satellites weighing over 1440kg. GLSO MK3 is a space crew module that will allow India to undertake a manned space program by 2020. The payload on GLSL MK4 will increase by two thirds to 6.5 tons.

Chandrayaan Lunar Exploration: The Chandrayaan-1 mission carried the Moon Impact Prob payload that discovered water on the Moon. India’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2, is slated for early 2018 aboard the heavy duty GSLV Mk II rocket.


Picture Credit: Wikipedia

Forecasting and predictive modeling has useful applications in agriculture crop planning, construction insurance, infrastructure planning, stock market analysis, and other applications including trade route planning (brings back to the Byzantine trade routes). Google acquired Terra Bella in 2014 which pioneered a new approach to satellites: TB is “building an entirely new class of imaging satellites. We’ve developed a high-resolution, small satellite platform capable of rapid response, high-resolution imagery at a fraction of the cost of traditional imaging satellites. Our second generations satellites (SkySat-3-7) include a propulsion module to support orbit-stationing and enable improvements in resolution.”  ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket launched the SkySat3-7 using SSC Space propulsion into a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit on June 22, 2016. Another player in the weather monitoring and prediction space is Weather Analytics with provides geo-stable data for decision and operational support. Bill Pardue conceived of a global weather and climate database back in 1983, worked on big data at Lexis-Nexis and then teamed with climatologist John Keller, a Senior Research Meteorologist at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and at AIR Worldwide.  Another third competitor, ViaScience, applies big math to solve complex business problems but also to use Bayesian modeling to analyze “Game of Thrones.” REFS™ is their software platform that automatically generates Big Math algorithms directly from data with limited human input across a wide variety of problems.

Spoiler Alert for Season 7: It’s All About the Mad Queen !


Picture Credit:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s