Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Second Life for our Groupon Paper

Groupon has been in the news lately -- something about their CEO leaving, I hear.  And Giorgos Zervas has been out giving talks.  (He's a great speaker.  You should invite him to your next related workshop or conference.)  The combination of these events seems to have given our Groupon work ([Byers Mitzenmacher Zervas] the newer arXiv paper, the older arXiv paper) a new life in the press.  I've seen it up on Forbes (by way of Rajiv Sethi's blog) and the Freakonomics blog, from which is seems to be being re-distributed through the Internet in the standard way.  Amusingly, the Freakonomics blog refers to it as a "new" paper (it's not), and nobody ever spells Giorgos's name right (this time, it's Servas instead of Zervas).

Since my name has been appearing in the press the past several days for less interesting reasons, it was nice to see it in the "news" for actual work. 


Rajiv said...

I think I'm responsible for the initial spelling mistake, sorry for that, corrected now. But isn't it Giorgios rather than Giorgos as in your post?

Michael Mitzenmacher said...

Hi Rajiv. I've seen him use both; I guess it's a non-trivial translation from the Greek.

Giorgos said...

Rajiv, thanks the correction, but really, it's no big deal.

Michael asked me to explain, so...

The "official" version of my name is Georgios (e.g. on my passport, birth certificate, etc.) The casual version by which everyone calls me, is Giorgos. Think of it like Michael and Mike. Nobody in Greece uses the longer, official version, except on legal documents. A few years ago, when I published my first paper I went for the clearly unmarketable version Georgios, perceiving published papers as some sort of official paperwork.

Now, to complicate matters further Giorgos is pronounced (more or less) Yorgos. The origin of some of these troubles is ISO 843 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_843) which defines a transliteration system from Greek to Roman characters. The mapping is (almost) 1-1 so it's great for legal documents. But, in many cases it fails to produce words that sound alike. Hence you will see different Giorgos'es going by different transliterations. I certainly picked the worst, but at least I am ISO-compliant :) Now, it's too late to go back and change things. Fortunately, by Greek standards, my last name is rather simple.

And Michael, I've never gone by Giorgios. That almost sounds Italian! :)

Rajiv said...

Thanks Giorgos, very helpful!