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Matts (1087)

Matts
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I work for MessageLabs [messagelabs.com] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Tuesday April 16, 2002
06:32 AM

Small Brain

[ #4231 ]

I have (compared to a lot of people I meet in this industry) a small brain. I don't have a PhD, I didn't do well in my degree, and I don't grok a lot of stuff immediately. I'm not suggesting that's in any way unusual, it's just something that's been on my mind lately.

I'm actually learning much more computer science stuff since graduating than I ever learned while at University. I think I was just too young while I was there - I was far more interested in sleeping late, and "spiritual growth". Now I actually find it fun learning things from the Dragon book about eliminating left recursion, and other things like that. Well OK, perhaps not fun. But at least I actually understand what I'm reading now, rather than hardly taking it all in.

Right now I'm trying to learn about Bayesian Probability. I seem to vaguely recall something about that at Uni, but it was over my head then. It's still over my head now - lots of maths. But hopefully I'll actually stick it out this time around.

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  • I had the hardest time in my Numerical Methods class. Had to repeat it, because it was much more interesting to plan six months abroad than deal with math.

    Turns out that the first project on my first job out of school had to do with doing Yield-to-Price calculations on fixed rate bonds. And that meant doing using Newton's method. Funny thing is, until that point in time, none of that had any meaning. Once I had an application for Newton's method, it all cleared up (and I had to explain it to my collea

  • I sort of feel your pain. I did ok in my degree and did horrible in my stab at grad work. However, I must have picked up on that "don't stop learning" thing. I have a monstrous collection of technical texts and am always reading something (on the web or in book form).

    It does take me awhile to pick on some CS type stuff because my degree was in aerospace engineering and programming was mostly used as a took to finish an assignment as compared to being the assignment itself.

    In any case, my desire to read, c
  • by gnat (29) on 2002.04.16 17:08 (#7133) Journal
    Yes, lots of maths. Yes, headaches ensue. If you're learning about it for AI/machine learning kinds of situations, I recommend Tom Mitchell's Machine Learning [google.com] textbook. The easiest to understand of any, although (if you're like me) you'll still need to spend a lot of time with flashcards and note-taking to have it make sense.

    Orwant's got the brain I'm most envious of. He can look at almost any math I run across and understand it. I'm planning a brain transplant at OSCON, but don't tell him that. I'll bring the adze and the slotted spoon if you bring the fermented grain anaesthetic ...

    --Nat

  • I agree with you completely. When I was an undergraduate, I had a lot of growing up to do, and learning maths was rarely my top priority. I think that's mostly necessary - if you look at people who were utterly devoted to their studies, most of them are curiously immature and unworldly.

    Recently (the past year or two) I've been getting seriously interested in logic and computer science, and studying with a ferocity that I never could muster when I was supposed to be doing it. In fact, after working as a pro