December 11, 2019

Festive fun with Poinsettias, Algorithms and who they are named after

By Paul Laughlin

Let’s take a break from all this learning about Data Visualisation & AgilePM. It’s time for some light-hearted festive fun (with Poinsettias).

I put out that challenge to our growing community of guest bloggers & Tony Boobier was first to pick up the gauntlet.

You may recall that following a career in Insurance Technology, Tony now writes, speaks & mentors leaders. He has shared with us before on the topics of Goal setting, AI misdescription and tailored training.

So, over to Tony to share how his thoughts turn to the Festive Season

Poinsettias in the Window?

For me, Christmas starts with the first poinsettias on display in the local florists or, more likely, in the supermarket. It’s the one with the green foliage and the vivid red leaves.

It’s a plant which is indigenous to Mexico and was first introduced to the US in 1825 by the US Ambassador to Mexico who was also a botanist, Joel Poinsett. Before being named after him, it was known as the ‘Mexican flame flower’ or ‘painted leaf’.

It’s said that in the 16th century, a young Mexican peasant girl called Maria was too poor to provide a gift for the church, and she was directed by an angel to pick some weeds and to leave them on the church altar. Blossoms sprouted from the weeds into what we now call poinsettias.

The connection with Christmas is through the green leaves, which represent the Star of Bethlehem, and the blood-red which represents Christ’s crucifixion.

Each year over 70 million poinsettias are sold within a 6 week period and are said to have a market value of over $250m. They are big business.

Do you know the man who gave his name to Algorithms?

I wondered how many data technologies have been named after an individual? (Answers on a postcard to Paul perhaps)

None that I could find. Although perhaps at a stretch you might include Dell computers, named after Michael Dell, or Amstrad which was named after Alan Michael Sugar (AMS) and ‘Trad’ for ‘trading’.

But I was interested to find that ‘algorithms’ are named after a Persian scholar Al-Khwarizmi (c780-850). His name was ‘Latinised’ by Roman scholars to ‘Algorithmi’.

His leading work was written between 813-833 and is called ‘The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing’. Now that would add some history to Paul’s oh so modern reading lists.

It was the leading maths book for European universities in the 16th century, but sadly it probably won’t feature on too many Christmas lists this year.

With all eyes on December 25, don’t forget that December 12 is National Poinsettia Day. Here’s my advice, buy one for your loved one!

What marks Christmas time for you?

Thanks to Tony for his festive thoughts & unexpected gift recommendation.

What about you? What marks the beginning of the festive season for you?

Carol singers? Mince pies & mulled wine on stalls? All your analysts off on holiday so there is no-one to get any work done? Or perhaps the often hilarious/awkward works’ Christmas Do?!

Whatever helps you mark the season, I do hope you are enjoying your December. (Normal service will be resumed soon)