Confessions of a researchaholic

April 16, 2015

Exponential ignorance

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:35 am
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The ratio of collective over my knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. It feels like drowning.

Human evolution is too slow for and has yet to benefit from our recent technology advance. Some cybernetic or genetic intervention may save us.

April 10, 2015

Stop killing trees

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:41 pm
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It is the 21st century. Please, send me electronic instead of paper documents.

Meanwhile, I wonder if there is a way to automatically bounce all incoming physical mails back to the original senders.

March 25, 2015

Kowtow

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:04 am
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If you are a university professor and you boast on social networks about sending your students to other schools for higher degrees, you are essentially acknowledging that you (and your school) are not as good.

March 7, 2015

Why living forever is probably a bad idea

Filed under: Imaginary — liyiwei @ 11:51 am
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Even if under optimal physical, mental, and social status:

. It will eventually become very boring.

. One cannot participate in evolution and thus becomes inferior (barring technology like dynamic genetic splicing).

. If the universe eventually ends it will drag you down to some unknown horrible state.

Reincarnation, or some form of jumping between different intelligent species, seems much more fun.
:)

July 17, 2014

Constructive criticism

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:29 pm
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Criticisms can help us improve, but only if they contain constructive information.

Some examples:

Useless criticism: this result is unacceptable.
Constructive criticism: this result is unacceptable because it contains this specific form of artifacts.

Useless criticism: this presentation is uninteresting.
Constructive criticism: this presentation is uninteresting because I do not care topic X and would rather hear more about topic Y.

As a recipient, I feel excited about constructive criticisms, even if they are harsh or contain personal attacks. In contrast, I usually ignore non-constructive comments because they provide nothing I can act upon.

Non-constructive criticisms are a waste of time at best, and look like whining at worst.

July 11, 2014

The best can succeed with those who are not

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:45 pm
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I thought about James Simons every time Stony Brook was mentioned, so I always assume it is a perennially decent institution. Thus, I was surprised to find out its math department was “lousy” when Simons started there (and he wanted the job and it sounded like fun).

What we can do counts more than whom we are affiliated with.
Those who can succeed only with top people probably are not all that top.

[I would like to know how Simons built the department, aside from the fact that he is brilliant all by himself. Thanks in advance for potential sources.]

March 31, 2014

Lullaby

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 6:28 pm
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Street noise
Is like a lullaby
For city boys

March 7, 2014

Double-edged sword

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , ,

I found Bobby Fischer against the World a fascinating documentary about a particular kind of talent (chess) of a unique individual (Bobby Fischer, widely considered as the greatest chess player of all time who later self-destructed into an outcast) at a particular era (cold war, with chess being one of the competitions to showcase US/Soviet supremacy).

One interesting point pursued in the movie is about the specific type of brain that enables superior chess play may also cause certain psychological issues.
One can make a more general point in that unusual brains, as double-edged swords, can produce special talents as well as abnormal behaviors, as have been seen in geniuses across different disciplines such as musicians, artists, scientists, and mathematicians.

February 22, 2014

Be different

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:37 am
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This is likely a unique local phenomenon, but I often see these student representatives wearing suits and sitting in meetings for various organizations.

It is extremely difficult for me to understand why anyone wants to do this. Young people should dream of being different instead of rushing into conformity.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

– Steve Jobs

December 9, 2013

President Obama calls on every American to learn code

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:34 pm
Tags: ,

On one hand, like math, coding provides some fundamental training that should definitely be learned by everyone.

On the other hand, it is a design problem if everyone has to learn coding just to build or use software tools.

In the current state of computer science, it remains unclear (at least to me) which parts are fundamental materials and which parts are design artifacts. The former can be distilled into general teaching curriculum while the latter should be fixed.

Ideally, an entrepreneur with core knowledge in math and programming should be able to create his or her own applications without having to write a single line of code.
This is already happening in certain domains such as mobile app development.

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