Okay, snappy about page, take 36*. Go!
* Note: This number is now being tracked semi-seriously

Hi there. I’m Brian, online handle betaveros, and this is a blog where I post… stuff. It does not have a focus; I post about essays and puzzles and current events — whatever random stuff I bump into my life.

I am a math nerd, currently (as of fall 2017) in the third year of undergraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; an aspiring combinatorialist, puzzler, and hacker; an unaspiring writer, singer, and oneironaut. Through my elementary to high school years, I lived on a small East Asia island whose political status is complicated enough to get its own Wikipedia article. I’ve done competition math since a ridiculously young age. It culminated in me going to the International Mathematical Olympiad twice, and I blogged about the second time in an incomplete manner. Two years later, I made my way to the 2014 International Olympiad of Informatics and blogged about it as well, this time pretty completely. Now I spend a lot of time with my student groups, the Student Information Processing Board (SIPB), MIT’s oldest computing club, and the Educational Studies Program (ESP), which runs a huge variety of classes for middle- and high-school students.

“Anyone who thinks we’re all going to spend the 2032 elections poring over rambling blog posts by teenagers has never tried to read a rambling blog post by a teenager.” — xkcd 1370

I also do programming contests like Google Code Jam (at which I have the dubious achievement of most programming languages successfully used in 2015), and the Internet Problem Solving Contest (at which I was on top secondary school team 2014 and top secondary school single-person team 2015). Of course, I am also on GitHub (with yet another home page hosted there), often contributing to the ESP website.

I also like puzzles, including logic puzzles (there’s a category for my logic puzzles on this blog, or see below), but I enjoy puzzlehunt-style puzzles the most. I have participated in puzzlehunts for a long time, generally with ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ since 2015; I also ran the Galactic Puzzlehunt with them. Previously I wrote three-and-one-fourth puzzles (and wrangled lots of PHP) for the 2015 MIT Mystery Hunt, after being on the winning team of the 2014 hunt.

Finally: dragons are awesome. (link is to gifsound and therefore has sound)


“betaveros” (/ˈbeɪ təˌvɛ rɔs/, if you want a canonical pronunciation) is a handle I came up in fourth grade, meaningless except for containing a Greek letter. Somewhat more commonly you’d see me on the Art of Problem Solving math forums, under “math_explorer”. I have another blog there, where all serious serious math goes, along with more AoPS-focused randomness. Increasingly you may also find my professional-looking MIT username “bpchen” (the “p” stands for whatever you want it to stand for, such as “Alfred”).

Blog History

This blog was also started in fourth grade and has suffered through four revivals and a not-very-motivated migration from Blogger.

  • Sep~Nov 2006. Blogs sound cool in theory but not in practice — I mostly post a bunch of boring descriptions of each school day.
  • Feb 2008. Roughly the same thing happens again.
  • Apr~Aug 2010. A long sequence of vaguely depressed philosophical and futuristic rambling.
  • Aug 2011. Long rant that doesn’t feel right on Facebook leads to posts about self-analysis and personality flaws which inexplicably segue into the randomness you see now.
  • Feb 2012. I migrate this blog from Blogger to WordPress for various reasons, none of them particularly good.

I am, at the moment, keeping all those old posts around because I want to laugh at them when I grow old. They’re there for everybody to see but remember that I am very much a different person. To give precedent, I shall quote Eliezer Yudkowsky‘s explanation:

My parents were early adopters, and I’ve been online since a rather young age. You should regard anything from 2001 or earlier as having been written by a different person who also happens to be named “Eliezer Yudkowsky”. I do not share his opinions.

For example, I don’t apply <span style=”font-size:200px;color:white;”> tags to words, jump into Lorem Ipsum text to express excitement, or have this insane conviction that snakes are invertebrates any more. I’m not sure where I’m getting the courage to link to these old posts.

Puzzles on This Blog

I post these highly irregularly. Instructions are generally on top of the post, sometimes with external links. I post a lot more mutants and hybrids than classic types, though, so many puzzles are one-of-a-kind. If you’re new to them, Sudoku is the classic classic logic puzzle type — all the rules are different but I think solving these puzzles involves the same kind of mindset.

Puzzle 43 / Fillomino [Nonrectangular + Walls] (not too hard once you get the hang of it) is probably my favorite, followed perhaps by Puzzle 45 / Fillomino [No-Path] and Puzzle 31 / Fillomino [Sashigane], which are both harder. I guess Fillominoes are pretty awesome because you can slap whatever you want onto them and get a fun variant.

These images are made with my own program for the purpose, Gridderface. It’s written in Scala and is open-source on GitHub with some hopefully usable documentation. Due to an annoying WordPress bug, the images often appear distorted and barred in the post; you can click on them to get the original image. Also, if you use Paint, you can do Slitherlinks and variants with a flood-fill tool; try it and see.


Email: (my online handle)@mit.edu works. I’m also on Twitter (@betaveros), as you can see from the sidebar; the MIT Mastodon instance; ask.fm; Telegram; Signal; Discord; and probably other protocols I’m not thinking of right now. You can probably find my Facebook, although I’d really prefer you contact me through literally any other one of these methods.


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