ezyang’s blog

the arc of software bends towards understanding


Cambridge potpourri

In which Edward tells some stories about Cambridge and posts lots of pictures. Apparently, Alyssa B. Hacker (sic) went on the Cambridge-MIT exchange. This is perhaps a phenomenon of having been around MIT for too long, a campus which has a reputation for not being too picturesque (I can probably count the actually pretty spots […]

  • November 19, 2010

Blog name changed…

...because I don’t live in a room numbered 245s anymore. Yep. :-) This is a cow. They munch grass next to the River Cam. Pop quiz. What do matrix-chain multiplication, longest common subsequence, construction of optimal binary search trees, bitonic euclidean traveling-salesman, edit distance and the Viterbi algorithm have in common?

  • October 27, 2010

Don’t Repeat Yourself is context dependent

I am a member of a group called the Assassins’ Guild. No, we don’t kill people, and no, we don’t play the game Assassin. Instead, we write and run competitive live action role-playing games: you get some game rules describing the universe, a character sheet with goals, abilities and limitations, and we set you loose […]

  • October 22, 2010

Why I am in Cambridge

I am studying computer science this academic year at Cambridge University, not MIT. For some people, this seems quite strange: when I tell old friends at MIT and new acquaintances at Cambridge about the fact that I am a Cambridge-MIT Exchange student, they say, “Why?” Sometimes, it’s some disbelief at the fact that I am […]

  • October 4, 2010

So long America!

For tomorrow I get on a plane traversing three thousand miles from my home to a little place named Cambridge, United Kingdom. I’ll be studying abroad for the 2010-2011 academic year at Cambridge University (specifically, I’ll be at Fitzwilliam college). While I know Baltimore is a fashionable place to be these days, if you’re in […]

  • September 27, 2010

Day in the life of a Galois intern

Vrrmm! Vrrmm! Vrrmm! It's 9:00AM, and the cell phone next to my pillow is vibrating ominously. I rise and dismiss the alarm before it starts ringing in earnest and peek out the window of my room. Portland summer is a fickle thing: the weather of the first month of my internship was marked by mist […]

  • August 20, 2010

What high school Algebra quizzes and NP-complete problems have in common

What I did for my summer internship at Galois World of algebra quizzes. As a high schooler, I was using concepts from computer science long before I even knew what computer science was. I can recall taking a math quiz—calculators banned—facing a difficult task: the multiplication of large numbers. I was (and still am) very […]

  • August 16, 2010

Little’s law

A short thought from standing in line at the World Expo: Little’s law is a remarkable result that relates the number of people in a queue, the arrival rate of people to the queue, and the time spent waiting in the queue. It seems that it could be easily applied to a most universal feature […]

  • July 5, 2010

Thinking about talk

This one's for the MIT crowd. I will unfortunately not be in Boston over IAP, so I won't be able to do a redux of the class I taught last year, Advanced Typeclasses in Haskell. However, since I will be in Boston for September, it might be a good time to do cluedump for SIPB […]

  • June 28, 2010

Class Reflections

Last February, I posted about classes that I was going to be taking. Here are some reflections, now that final projects and examinations are over. 6.005: Software Construction. Teaching students how to engineer large software projects is one of the oddest paradoxes that you might encounter in academic life. The institute is certainly capable of […]

  • May 19, 2010