Monday, October 25, 2010

Proportion - Greatest Tank Battles

What we wring our hands over today! 'Greatest' above also means 'Worst'.
I got to my treadmill this morning at exactly the right point to watch History Television with a one-hour special on Battle of Kursk.
One of my standard complaints has been lately the hand-wringing that goes on over the current wars we fight with so few casualties in any sense.
In this battle over about two weeks, there appear to have been over 200,000 casualties; the testimonials from the people there who were interviewed were chilling. And I was amazed at their casual acceptance of how they behaved (in many cases with a wonderfully detached intelligence) in key moments of the battle.
It is clear both German and Russian armies were incredibly committed to winning.
And one of the great things about this show is that it gave several instances of game theory applications in tank battle, which is pretty constraining, but also requires a lot of liberation to sort out interesting problems, like your tank getting stuck on a stump in the middle of the battle (get out of the tank, find an axe, cut down some other trees (you are near a Russian forest), and use them to lever the tank off the stump).
What a generation!


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