Online since Apr 1996 Last modified 6 March 2008


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I am an associate professor (charge de recherche) in theoretical physics at the Curie Institute/CNRS and when not in Paris live in London; I also periodically visit Cambridge.

My research interests are network motifs and complex networks; boolean networks and discrete dynamics; and inferring genes and gene-gene interactions.

I have also written a couple of books: The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie and, more recently, The Man's Book.

Mathematics of Conkers

DARPA FunBio logo Conkers is a popular game played with the nuts of the common horse-chestnut tree (conkers), in which pairs of players take turns swiping each other's conker with their own until one conker is broken. Each conker is assigned a score as follows. All new conkers start with a score of 1. Each time a conker beats another conker, it adds to its score the score of the defeated.

In Single elimination competition, we study a simple model of competition in which each player has a fixed strength. Randomly selected pairs of players compete and the stronger one wins. We show that the best indicator of future success is not the number of wins but a player's wealth: the accumulated wealth of all defeated players. We calculate statistics of a conker with a given score and offer advice on strategy.

The Man's Book 2008

How to hold a cigarette The Man's Book is the authoritative handbook of men's customs, habits and pursuits - a vade mecum for modern-day manliness. At a time when the sexes are muddled and masculinity is marginalized, The Man's Book unabashedly celebrates being male. Chaps, cads, blokes and bounders, rejoice: The Man's Book will bring you back to wear you belong.

The 2008 edition of The Man's Book, published on 19 September, 2007, has been expanded, revised and updated.

Thomas Fink

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The Man's Book
The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie
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