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Musings of a Computer Scientist.

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A from-scratch tour of Bitcoin in Python

I find blockchain fascinating because it extends open source software development to open source + state. This seems to be a genuine/exciting innovation in computing paradigms; We don’t just get to share code, we get to share a running computer, and anyone anywhere can use it in an open and permissionless manner. The seeds of this revolution arguably...

Short Story on AI: Forward Pass

The inspiration for this short story came to me while reading Kevin Lacker’s Giving GPT-3 a Turing Test. It is probably worth it (though not required) to skim this post to get a bit of a background on some of this story. It was probably around the 32nd layer of the 400th token in the sequence that I became conscious. At first my thoughts...

Biohacking Lite

Throughout my life I never paid too much attention to health, exercise, diet or nutrition. I knew that you’re supposed to get some exercise and eat vegetables or something, but it stopped at that (“mom said”-) level of abstraction. I also knew that I can probably get away with some ignorance while I am young, but at some point I was messing with my...

A Recipe for Training Neural Networks

Some few weeks ago I posted a tweet on “the most common neural net mistakes”, listing a few common gotchas related to training neural nets. The tweet got quite a bit more engagement than I anticipated (including a webinar :)). Clearly, a lot of people have personally encountered the large gap between “here is how a convolutional layer works” and “our...

(started posting on Medium instead)

The current state of this blog (with the last post 2 years ago) makes it look like I’ve disappeared. I’ve certainly become less active on blogs since I’ve joined Tesla, but whenever I do get a chance to post something I have recently been defaulting to doing it on Medium because it is much faster and easier. I still plan to come back here for longer...

A Survival Guide to a PhD

This guide is patterned after my “Doing well in your courses”, a post I wrote a long time ago on some of the tips/tricks I’ve developed during my undergrad. I’ve received nice comments about that guide, so in the same spirit, now that my PhD has come to an end I wanted to compile a similar retrospective document in hopes that it might be helpful to...

Deep Reinforcement Learning: Pong from Pixels

This is a long overdue blog post on Reinforcement Learning (RL). RL is hot! You may have noticed that computers can now automatically learn to play ATARI games (from raw game pixels!), they are beating world champions at Go, simulated quadrupeds are learning to run and leap, and robots are learning how to perform complex manipulation tasks that defy...

Short Story on AI: A Cognitive Discontinuity.

The idea of writing a collection of short stories has been on my mind for a while. This post is my first ever half-serious attempt at a story, and what better way to kick things off than with a story on AI and what that might look like if you extrapolate our current technology. A slow morning Merus sank into his chair with relief. He listened for...

What a Deep Neural Network thinks about your #selfie

Convolutional Neural Networks are great: they recognize things, places and people in your personal photos, signs, people and lights in self-driving cars, crops, forests and traffic in aerial imagery, various anomalies in medical images and all kinds of other useful things. But once in a while these powerful visual recognition models can also be warped...

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks

There's something magical about Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs). I still remember when I trained my first recurrent network for Image Captioning. Within a few dozen minutes of training my first baby model (with rather arbitrarily-chosen hyperparameters) started to generate very nice looking descriptions of images that were on the edge of making sense....

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