Monday, November 12, 2012

Professor meets game shows

Contestant stories usually get relegated to the faux tweets. But not always.

Happened to see Pat Headley's story in the Google news cache. He's a math professor - like the folks who tried to beat differential equations into my brain a long, long time ago - who appeared on both Jeopardy and Super Millionaire. The Jeopardy gig in 1990 was something of a flop. He finished second, though he did get a trip to the Bahamas.

But he hit the big time with Super Millionaire, ABC's short-lived revival of Regis' franchise in 2004. He climbed all the way up to the half-million before deciding to walk away.

Just for good measure, Pat wrote a couple of math papers on the two shows. I haven't read the papers, but they may point out the importance of knowing the answers to the questions. Or, in Jeopardy's case, the questions to the answers. If you're wondering what Pat did with the Millionaire money, he invested most of it for retirement. Just what a math professor would do.

By the way, Pat also wrote a paper on Abelian groups. No, the name doesn't have anything to do with my ancestors. There was this Norwegian mathematician named Abel who lived back in the nineteenth century. No relation.