This is the non-snappy version of my About page.
My silly ask.fm answer from a while back sums up an alarming number of the things I might have wanted to put here.
What are you obsessed with?
Sushi, #cc0000, Unicode, dragons, grammar, Pokéraps, heapsort, potatoes, bijections, isomorphisms, Greek letters, powers of two, lambda calculus, keeping promises, the command line, Ubuntu (the font), names of fallacies, self-referentiality, Haskell’s list monad, HTML semantic meaning, being technically correct, weird ways to encode letters, esoteric programming languages, nonesoteric programming languages, not wasting unused bits of tissue, an alarming number of songs by fun., Haskell’s Monoid instance for Ordering, avoiding making stupid posts in public, the technical article names of TVTropes, figuring out ways to not use Microsoft Office, numbers in colorful progress bars that tick up meaninglessly, adding arbitrary items to lists to get the item count to a nice “round number”, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, windmills, and windmills.
— me spamming on ask.fm
- Sushi. Slightly more specifically, sashimi with vinegar rice plus a healthy dollop of wasabi somewhere. I don’t have a strong preference ranking among different fish. In fact, to generalize somewhat: I believe rice vinegar and wasabi are both kind of underrated and deserve to be combined with more food items.
First place is unquestionably Coldplay’s Viva la Vida. Second place is unquestionably fun.’s Carry On. Third place might be Avril Lavigne’s Alice (Underground), although this position is now debatable; runner-ups include The A Team, Never Grow Up, Better Days.
Sub-awards: favorite Cytus song is Entrance by Ice, followed by Future World by Killerblood, then The Black Case by Killerblood, then basically everything else by Killerblood in some arbitrary order.
My favorite music group is pretty definitely Pentatonix. My favorite cover of anything is Sam Tsui’s cover of #Selfie. I enjoy Google Translate Sings has high standard deviation; my favorite is Google Translate Sings Wrecking Ball.
- This is a very tough call. But the candidate list is reasonably clear: the Artemis Fowl series, the Saga of Darren Shan / Cirque Du Freak series, the Fablehaven series, the Hitchhiker’s series. If you count manga, then add Liar Game somewhere. The web serial Ra deserves a mention though.
- Video Game
- I’m a pretty late gamer. Games/franchises I like include Undertale, Pokémon, and the Ace Attorney series. I just started Fire Emblem Fates as I’m randomly motivated to write this and enjoy it a lot too, so I have no idea.
- Red. Maybe darker shades thereof, like crimson.
- Cayley’s formula for the number of labeled trees. The proofs are amazing. I think Prüfer sequences are most commonly cited, but Joyal’s bijection is also amazingly fun, and Jim Pitman’s double-counting proof is also breathtakingly naturally elegant.
- Mathematical Concept
My favorite elementary concept is the canonical cycle decomposition of permutations. Via Knuth: if you take a permutation, write all singleton cycles explicitly, rotate every cycle so that the smallest number in the cycle is first, sort the cycles by their smallest numbers in decreasing order, and then concatenate the cycles together as words, you get another permutation — and this is reversible. It’s useful for investigating many questions about permutations that depend on their cycle structure. For example, how many permutations have 1 and 2 in the same cycle? In the canonical cycle decomposition, the answer is the same as the number of permutations where 1 comes before 2.
You have noticed the emphasized “elementary”; there are so many other candidates in higher mathematics and I see more every day, or at least every week, that it’s probably futile for me to pick a favorite.
- Programming Language
Haskell — its type system is great and the functional style is quite elegant. I don’t like it enough to use it for everything, because I know it has a long list of weaknesses: laziness makes the cost model is hard to think about, purity and referential transparency makes certain tasks and refactorings that are easy in other languages extremely hard or ugly, and we spend a lot of time and brainpower solving problems that really only arise because of said self-enforced purity and referential-transparency constraints. But I have a lot of uses for programming where these weaknesses don’t cause any issues, problems with very clearly-defined domains like math-riddle assistants or data-transforming hacks, and I find it very awesome at handling those jobs.
Runner-ups are Scala and Python, which are roughly tied. I dabble in new languages almost constantly, but I think these choices are unlikely to change. Scala also has a pretty awesome type system and functional goodies, not to mention the Java API that I grew up with; the big issue for me is the phenomenally slow compiler, with a runner-up being the syntax complexity (how many ways are there to use an underscore?). Python is just my jack-of-all-trades go-to language when I want to write code other people have a chance of reading or contributing to, or when I need access to a more solid package ecosystem. Mypy type annotations are pretty good.
- Text Editor
Vim, with the GUI.
A defensive note to
emacsusers in advance: yes, I know of
evil-mode, but I haven’t switched mainly because I’ve discovered that, beyond basic modality that enables me to use easy-to-reach keys to do a lot of editing tasks other than typing additional stuff, I don’t get that much benefit from augmenting my editor. I don’t have
vim-seekinstalled and I barely use even the built-in text objects or autocomplete; it takes too long for editor features to become habitual for me, so (I think) it’s rather unproductive for me to spend too much time on editor customization. I’m still satisfied with my editing/programming speed, however, and less time messing with my editor means more time using my editor to achieve great things, or to write a non-snappy About page that nobody will read. Also, I’ve already gone through a messing-with-Lisp stage independent of emacs before so I won’t get the learning-a-new-paradigm benefit from that.
- Childhood Memory
- I didn’t know this was a thing, but I guess: the time I dropped the word “syzygy” in a book report in fifth grade.
I have taken the AIME exactly once. I got a 9.
My classmate who’s really into Runescape assigned a monster to every member of our class; I’m To’Kash (the Bloodchiller).
I typeset my em dashes open.
When all else is equal, I indent personal projects with tabs, but kinda don’t bother fighting default settings any more.
Just leaving this here:
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