Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mobile Message Redundancy (MMR)

Disclaimer: The following article is presented with a balanced approach towards machinating the above mentioned idea in light of both technical intricacies as well as from a lay man's perspective. It’s a compilation of the author's own experience and also of his near and dear ones! However, the author shall bear no responsibility, whatsoever for any unnoticed discrepancy in statistics or validation of facts! So if you still wanna rush through this article, well, do it at your own risk!!! The author reserves all copyrights of the article, and any attempts to reproduce the same for any profitable purposes, shall implicitly become entitled for legal prosecution. Arey! Bas karo yaar... kya din bhar yahi padte rahoge yaa phir aage bhi kuch padoge? Abh itna sab kuch jhel chuke ho to alsi cheez padena ka bhi kasht uthao na. Good Luck!!!

This article has been due for quite a long time now. I think may be from diwali. Diwlai to poore dhamake ke saat khatam hui lekin eh article saala vaisa hi rehgaya. (Plz don't ask me what it means. For all those rashtriya baasha-uninitiated-angrezi-babus, apun ko kripya kshama kar do). Okies. This article inherits it's idea from the fact that all mobile users (both GSM and CDMA), at some point of time or the other, have been haunted and frustrated by those redundant sms, which gets cluttered in to their inbox, as quickly as hutch changes its tariff plans!!!

This article throws light on issues that will help u to clearly understand the actual magnanimity of the problem, and also its impact on not only the users, but also on the service providers as well. The former part of this article elicits the potential sources of redundancy and it's impact, while the latter proposes a few suggestions for users to reduce the congestion levels, which is one of the immediate consequences of an MMR.

To illustrate what exactly is this problem, read the figure below carefully. Its shows potential sms belts s1, s2 and s3, which are the sources of sms (and MMR) for a user, say X.


Fig: Potential sources of an MMR


Note: The variable s1 (yellow), s2 (red) and s2 (orange) signify the potential sms belts and ‘r’ denotes the radial distance in km from user X.

From the concepts of Information Theory, it is known that, the information content of a message signal is proportional to the logarithm (base 2) of inverse of probability of the occurrence of the message. Simply put, the greater is the probability of the occurrence of an event, the lesser is the information it carries.


{I} proportional to {log2 (1/pi)}

For eg: Indian cricket team loses again in the finals of some XYZ tournament against Australia. Now given the fact that it’s been the fate of Indian cricket team for quite a long time now, the message carries very low information.The probability of
occurrence of such an event is very low. But if u were to read a news that said, ‘India crush Australia in 2007 world cup final by 150+ runs to clinch the title’, then the latter would carry more information, simply because the probability of occurrence of such an event is smaller compared to the former! (I haven’t grown cynical yet)

Potential causes of an MMR:

1. Now that you understand the probability of introduction of redundancy is inversely proportional to the information content in your message. Applying the same to sms’ I could add one more factor that determines redundancy of messages apart from ‘information content’, it’s the reception of same message from multiple sources (preferably on the same day). It can be exponentially frustrating when u get same message on the same day, from so many of your friends!

2. Special occasions like New Year or Christmas or even Diwlai, are times when MMR is at its peak. I am sure all of u might have unknowingly contributed destructively to it. It’s a common practice to forward the message (a good one) to your entire friend circle (all those who fall in sms belts s1, s2 and s3). The greater is the ‘specialty factor’ of the sms, greater is the possibility that your friend might have received the same sms from some other sms belts! Now any one could question me, ‘Does it mean that I should send PJs to my friends, so that I stand a god chance of reducing redundancy?’ Well not exactly. Identify the source of the sms, and for a while try to trace back to its original source (it requires you to have knowledge of the person’s source of sms), which will help you to guess if the person has already received that message. Again, I would say, since it’s only a guess, you cannot achieve 100% efficiency!

3. This is probably the biggest way one could introduce an MMR. I am sure every mobile user might, at some point of time, tried this. One of the obvious reasons being ‘lack of fresh messages’ (see that is what an MMR will result in. At some point all sms belts will be flooded with sms of same genre. I call such a state as ‘Fresh Message Inadequacy’ or FMI). That’s exactly when the same old message transcends from the day beginner as a ‘Good morning’ and after an extremely intoxicating journey, dies off in one of the sms belts, in a remote subscriber’s cell phone. The worst and probably the most devastating method of introducing an MMR!

4. Given the fact that my sms friend circle or for that matter any ‘decently’ networked mobile user (it excludes all the people who reside @ ‘what-is-a-mobile-nagar’, god help those uninitiated souls, who still communicate via pigeons) have their sms belts spread out in 3 tiers. S1 being the closet which is less than 100km radial distance, s2 ranging between 100 and 200 km and s3 is tier 3 which extends beyond 200 km (yeah that includes ‘Andromeda galaxy’ as well. I am conscious of some ET users as well. Can someone drop in info of such service providers?). Due to the ubiquitous nature of the sms, thanks to the service providers ‘planting’ a tower at even the remotely accessible places in the world (except what-is-a-mobile-nagar), most often people end up sending the same sms to tier 1, tier2 and tier 3 users. Even though it’s a conscious effort by user X to add to the diversity of sms destinations, he is very much oblivious of it's existence already in those tiers! The next time you send an sms to tier 1, 2 and 3, don’t feel elated, that u have contributed seriously in averting an MMR. U might have very well introduced a redundancy!!!


After having looked at the sources of an MMR, I would like to suggest a few tangible solutions to minimize the same.

1. At the time of festivals or special occasions, try not to forward the sms you got from a friend, say A (unless it’s extremely good! I leave it to your discretion to rate the quality of sms) in say tier 1, to some other friend H, either from same sms belt or another (who is a common friend of both A and H). I am sure this will have a huge impact and will help meaningfully in reducing the redundancy and annoyance!

2. Try not to send the same message editing its final tag from ‘gm’ to ‘gn’ and forward it to a friend, just to show that you wanna be in touch with him/her. Mind you, u might very well be adding redundancy quite consciously. I suggest, you better send a new message or simply a plain good night (or morning) would work!!!

3. The biggest trouble with sending long messages is that 7/10 times they fail to reach destination. So let’s exploit the flexibility of English language! Type any message that resembles short-hand (English) and I am sure, not only will it reduce the length, but also will serve the purpose! For all those extremely lazy souls, give your fingers some work, type with dictionary mode off or one can also load those ‘local lingos’ (H knows a few like thoud-shots) in to his/her dictionary to reduce the efforts!

4. This is one of the subtle contributors to the burning problem. All those sooner or later to-be Alzheimerians please make an effort to remember if you have dumped the same sms in to his/her inbox before recently. (By recently, I mean up to the point of time in memory, to which the person can retrace and remember of having read the same sms).

Before I conclude, I would like to extend my special thanks to all those post-paid mobile users, whose hands are tied down to very few sms per month! Poor souls don’t dare to contribute to an MMR. I am extremely thankful to them.

Kuch zyada hua kya? C’mon don’t expect me to drop in a sms to each one you saying, ‘Thank you for contributing meaningfully to our Anti-MMR campaign' . You people add to what I term as ‘Audio Signal Redundancy’ or ASR. I shall write more on that some time later!!! BTW these people consume a larger BW than sms senders, don’t they?

PS: Having been mercilessly victimized on a day-to-day basis, by this sms plagiarism, (Oh come on yaar, there is no harm is copying or passing on a wonderful message, with your name as sender, if that could being on a smile on some one’s face) contributes to an MMR, I have pledged not to send any such sms that would contribute to the growth or introduction of an MMR. I appeal to all my readers as well, try to be a bit smart, in guessing the path traversed by an sms in to your inbox. I am sure you would find out if forwarding that sms would add to the existing redundancy or not! I am sure A will keep a check on this!!!

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