Monday, November 15, 2004

the myth of the cat - Part I

Sitting at home, without the aid of a right hand and a large displaced internal chunk of your nose, you tend to get bored. So bored, in fact that slashdot, desi sites (;)) and rediff just bore you. Besides, parents have the odd habit of asking you every five minutes to rest your broken hand. This led me to visit the time (cat tutorial guys) site. It also made me write a small script that allows me to type left handed (thank you linux for letting me mess with keyboard opcodes). But the time site had some especially interesting data.

1. The highest salary got by anybody at IIM is 14 lakhs
2. The average otoh is 7 lakhs
3. This is excluding the bevy of guys who get dollar salaries....

I thought about this for sometime and well, “decided to run the numbers”, as the mbas amongst us may say.

Here’s what I did.

I first assumed that the IIMs have a batch strength of 300 per batch. Quite an arbit number, but the IIM site confirmed me on this.

Next I assumed that 10 students got a salary of 14 lakhs. So now I tried working out what the average salary of the others were (those of you who are taking the cat put down your hands, I know you know the answer). The average salary was 6.75 lakhs, approx. 7 lakhs.

So if 10 students got a salary of 14 lakhs 290 of us would get a salary averaging 7 lakhs.

Next for the 7 lakhs, what if 10 students get a salary of 13 lakhs? Then the average salary of the rest drops to 6.3 lakhs. I tried going on this way till when I had 10 students getting 6 lakhs, the average salary of the others were 5 lakhs.

That’s right. So some of those students had a chance of getting a salary lesser than 6 but greater than 5, while the rest would get a salary of lesser than 5.

And the number of students who would be getting a salary of lesser than 5 lakhs: 210.

A whopping 70 % can get only a salary of lesser than 5 lakhs.

If you were to take that figure as a probability measure, than the chances of you getting a lesser than 5 lakh job is 70%.

So how high is 70% Well, the chances of you getting killed in a bike accident when travelling from your house to your office is 70%. Go figure...

Slightly confused I tried increasing the number of people in each salary slot. Woo hoo....

If the number of people getting a salary of 14 lakhs, or 13 lakhs or 12 lakhs is 20 instead of 10, the probability increases to 90%.

Of course, this is provided you assume that the numbers reflect the probability.

By now I was entranced with these figures, so I made two excel sheets, with the slot size (10,20,30) and the average salaries.

You can find the sheets here and
here and

To look at the sheets, pick a row in the student’s column. Now ask yourself the question. If 10 students each got salaries of 14 and 13 lakhs, then what would be the average salary of the rest? Go to where 10 under the student’s column intersect the column mysteriously named 13. Yes. That’s the average salary of the rest.... 6.31 lakhs

The other sheet works in the same way, just having the students going from 1 to 10 instead of from 10 to 300.

If you look at the probability of a lesser than 5 lakh paying job in the 1-10 sheet, you find that the probability for a slot size of 1 is....



97% (which according to me is a bloody cert. unless India are playing)

So, even if there are lesser number of people getting the 14 lakh salary then we find that there is a 97% chance of you getting a lesser than 5 lakh salary, while the probability of you getting one of the 7-14 lakh jobs is 3%(Of course, the calculations may be severely flawed for all I know. I am not staking my professional reputation on this).

Now if you were to consider the number of students getting high salaries as any indication of smartness, then your chances of getting a good salary from the iims are easier if you are in a smarter batch. However if you are quite dumb (as I no doubt am. My parents and well wishers pointed this out to me, remarking that if I were to cast aspersions on the well beings of the IIM I would be burnt at the stake. I don’t particularly bloody mind), then the chances of you getting a pretty pathetic salary are also greater.

Now I don’t know how valid these calculations are, so I’d be most interested if somebody would actually come in look my calculations over again, and do a general review of my work. Because to me it looks like if you are writing the cat to get a good salary you are doomed. The CAT seems to be a myth to me....


1. Yes. This essay was typed out entirely with my left hand, on a linux box, running vim and some wicked cool mods.

2. The excel, sheet was all done with the mouse.

3. Life is like a grapefruit.