Chem161 pset 1

February 10, 2009 at 3:59 am | Posted in rambling | Leave a comment

P(E)=A\int_{\left|v \right|<r} e^{\frac{-(v_x^2+v_y^2+v_z^2)}{B}}dv_x dv_y dv_z

In polar coords, with integration limits:

P(E) = A\int_0^{r_0}\int_0^{2*\pi}\int_0^{\pi} e^{\frac{-r^2}{B}}r^2\sin \theta dr d\theta d\phi


Goodbye, Hello,

March 13, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Posted in blogging | Leave a comment

This blog has moved, for a few simple reasons.

All the past posts, as well as many future ones to come, can now be found at

Blog Directory - Blogged

Poetry, music, and color

March 5, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Posted in artsy, computers, design, literature, music, programming, school | Leave a comment
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[poem visualizer, designed by me]

One in the morning isn’t always the best time to embark on programming projects of indeterminate length and scope. I learned that last night when, after having spent most of the afternoon and evening on a take-home midterm for my visualization class, I was beset with the dilemma of the extra credit problem. “Design your own poetry visualization,” along the lines of Poetry on the Road. This is a series of graphic designs commissioned each year by the Internationales Literaturfestival Bremen, designed by a team of professional graphic artists led by Boris Müller. The two things that immediately struck me about these graphics were 1) their juxtaposition of visual complexity and conceptual simplicity, and 2) their obvious requirement of a vastly greater number of hours — and sheer programming virtuosity — than the 24 hour maximum allotted for my midterm.

I must’ve been struck with temporary amnesia, or just had an acute attack of masochism, because I promptly forgot about the 3 problem sets that I had been saving up my sleep-hours for later in the week, and proceeded to bang away at Processing (coolest programming language ever) for the next 3 hours. The result, humble by the standards of any legitimate computer artist — but hopefully not of my exam grader — is this, a grid of colored squares representing “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot. I chose the poem mainly because it was long enough to really show patterns in my algorithm, but not so long as to crash the program. (although I would like to run Paradise Lost or The Iliad through, just for kicks.)
Continue Reading Poetry, music, and color…


February 26, 2008 at 12:23 am | Posted in artsy, books, computers, design, geeky, internet, school | 3 Comments
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Community of Variation
[via Context Free Art Gallery and Community of Variation]

For a computer science assignment last week I wrote a program with a friend in Scheme that generates sentences using context-free grammar. By specifying a few basic rules for parts of speech and including a simple word list, you can get some remarkably coherent results — coherent, that is, in a strictly grammatical, minimalist sense. There’s actually no attention paid to the meaning of the words used, or to their relationship with each other, a consequence of the grammar being “context-free.” We had a few laughs using our program to generate bogus math proofs, but instead of puzzling you with a slew of inside jokes and insomnia-induced geekiness, I’ll point your way to a much more impressive — not to mention amusing — application of the same algorithm, this time used to generate an entire scientific paper. You can even put your own name down as an author! Here’s an example passage:

We question the need for digital-to-analog converters. It should be noted that we allow DHCP to harness homogeneous epistemologies without the evaluation of evolutionary programming [2], [12], [14]. Contrarily, the lookaside buffer might not be the panacea that end-users expected. However, this method is never considered confusing. Our approach turns the knowledge-base communication sledgehammer into a scalpel.
[Stribling et. al (PDF)]

Not too bad for randomly generated babble, is it? Continue Reading Context-free…

Made for me

February 9, 2008 at 3:01 am | Posted in design, harvard, internet, programming, rambling, school, science | Leave a comment
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[via flight404]

I love shopping week at the beginning of every semester, because it is a time of beautiful leisure and carefree distraction.

Okay, so I skip class for a couple days. But consider this–other, much more ambitious students will go to 20 classes that they don’t end up taking. And guess what? I also end up not taking those same 20 classes! I’ve effectively simulated Ivy-league-grade ambition by sitting in my room and surfing YouTube, and nobody is the wiser. A pareto-efficient transaction of sorts, between myself and The Man. (Maybe you question the correctness of my econ verbiage here. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I never sat in on any econ classes.)

Ah! But even without me once having to go outside, that perfect someone or something (but actually some thing) still strikes me like a thunderbolt between the eyes. Continue Reading Made for me…

Yoshimi succumbs to the second law of thermodynamics

February 6, 2008 at 1:54 am | Posted in life, music, rambling | 1 Comment
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[via kk+ on flickr]

So it was, the week after finals ended, before the intersession fun kicked in and I was just sitting in my room, ready to decrease entropy with the input of some enthalpy.

I vacuumed, re-attached all my posters to the walls, put all the books and errant pieces of silverware back in their places. Then I attempted the most ambitious and dangerous undertaking of all, so much so, in fact, that I haven’t done it since the 2nd year of high school–I took out all my files and began reorganizing them.

Most people, I imagine, like to keep it simple. There’s a folder for your important documents, some for important receipts or tax forms, and maybe a few tabbed folders for academics and the like. I definitely start the same way, except when it comes to actually using the organizational infrastructure I’ve set up, my habits start to resemble those of a failed African state. Squandering capital doing time-consuming, largely useless things (yes, that was a link to this blog), inventing more complicated bureaucratic hoops so that papers continue to pile up on the floor out of boredom/incompetence, and yes, eventually it takes nothing less than a multinational effort to mop up the mess.

Which is why classes have now started, and there is still a big pile of folders and papers on the floor, slowly starting to accumulate dirt from the bottom of my shoe when I walk over it. Where I used to neatly file away a paper (albeit in a meaninglessly categorized folder, from which I am never able to find anything again), now I just toss it on the ground.

Oh, and I can’t stop listening to the Flaming Lips album.

Updates for the new semester

February 6, 2008 at 1:34 am | Posted in flickr, geeky, life, travel | Leave a comment
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The “I’ll blog this” moment has been coming up quite a bit lately; if only it were remotely matched in frequency by the “I’ll sit down and write” moments. Too bad those are usually displaced by “I’ll sleep and do my homework in the morning” moments, followed by “shit I woke up later than I expected, and the sun is setting” moments.

Enough of that. The latest news, at least for the moment:

Finals ended. Backcountry skiing/winter hiking in White Mountains for a week. Outdoors, no computers, cold, fresh, sublime. Many blog-worthy thoughts. No amount of actual writing accomplished. Which leads me to…

Flickr photos have been updated, for the first time in years. Mostly mountains, a lot of rocks and snow, and a few fleeting glimpses of a beautiful European summer.

Obsession with webcomics continues. Besides my daily dose of computer-science-in-joke-riddled sentimentality (xkcd), I’ve been reading a new favorite (Questionable Content). Fewer stick figures, less philosophising. More jokes about sex.

Roommate blog back up, now under a new name. Mostly obscure in-jokes, with a smattering of strange insights and some ridiculous poetry. Most of it written by our freshman selves.

That’s it for the moment. Check out my links on the sidebar for more distractions.

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