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3rd April 2012

9:44pm: MemeCollapse )

6th April 2010

9:07pm: Memealicious!
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a meme!Collapse )
Current Mood: Holy shit I'm updating my LJ

4th February 2009

8:24pm: Romantic data-mining
It is well known, at least in certain circles, that the optimal strategy for choosing a spouse is to first date 37% of the people whom you could conceivably marry, and then continue dating people but marry the next one you come to whom you like better than all those you've dated so far. If you date less than 37% of people before doing this then, under certain assumptions which admittedly may not reflect reality perfectly, it is statistically likely that if you'd waited a bit longer you would have found someone you like better than your current spouse. If you date more than 37% then you're statistically more likely to have already gone past your optimal spouse while trying to get a larger sample size. Of course, dating 37% of all the people of the opposite gender to yourself who are within a certain age range of you is hardly feasible - and it's even worse if you swing both ways. It also kind of sucks all the fun out of romance to have to tell someone "Look, I really like you and I think things are working out great, it's just that, well, statistically speaking...".

In this same vein of completely sucking all the fun out of life, I was thinking just now, rather randomly, of writing a little program to harvest the interests of say 10,000 random female LJ users and doing some analyses. This would be fairly straight forward. You point the program at your own profile page, which contains a list of all your friends' usernames. Given their usernames it's easy for the program to figure out the URL for their profile pages, and then you can repeat the same process for all of your friends' friends. Then you can do their friends' friends' friends, and so on, spidering out through the degrees of separation and stopping when you hit 10,000, or whatever threshold you like. Perfectly simple, and incidentally this is how places like Google build up their huge ass databases of websites.

If along the way you store each person's interests then you can make estimates of things like "what percentage of females are interested in anime and video games and metal and whatever else you like", which is obviously of interest for the task of answering questions like "How lucky am I to have met potential spouse X who ticks, say, 7 out of my 10 important boxes?". I thought this would be a cool experiment to do to pass some time and make a fun LJ entry out of it, even if it wouldn't be particularly scientifically valid (there is, obviously, a huge sampling bias in effect - we're answering the question "what proportion of females on Livejournal are interested in X, Y and Z. People who use LJ are certainly more likely to be nerds than people selected at random off the street, so the proportion of people interested in nerdy things is likely to be substantially overestimated. The data available to someone doing my proposed experiment is not enough to be able to sensibly correct for this bias.).

So I started looking through people's profile pages to get a feel for just what would be involved in pulling the relevant details out of the HTML code and I realised "Geez, none of my friends have chosen to specify what gender they are. I didn't think I hung out with such privacy sensitive people on LJ". Then I looked at my own profile page and realised that it didn't have my gender on there, even though when I checked it, it was absolutely set to "male". It would seem that LJ doesn't actually do anything with this information. At first I thought perhaps the default privacy setting was to not show it, but after a quick poke around the options (and I do mean quick, I could easily have missed something) I couldn't find anything like it. I really think it's impossible to get your gender to show up on your profile page. Which completely ruins my experiment, and also raises the question - why do they even bother letting you set your gender if nobody but you can possibly see it? Purely for market research purposes? How odd.

The best way around this would be to develop some strategy for estimating someone's gender based on their username, and estimating the likely chance of error. I suspect that, in principle, you could actually make such guesses with pretty good accuracy, perhaps as high as 80% or above (observe that the average person on the street with no particularly high rate of exposure to Japanese media could still probably get a pretty good gut instinct that Motoko is a girl's name and Kenji is a boy's. There's just an intuitive feel to these sorts of things), but the effort involved in training a program to make the guesses is sufficiently high compared to how interested I am in seeing the results that it destroys the project's status as being quick, easy and fun enough to be worth doing on the spur of the moment. Oh well.

On a closing note, I want to stress that this whole post actually has almost nothing to do with my marriage problems as touched upon in a recent entry, which I'm actually feeling quite a bit better about at the moment. People, especially Kirsty, should interpret this entry and being much, much more about my predilection for at least thinking about behaving in a mathematically optimal sense at all times, and also for having fun doing impulsive nifty tricks with computers the moment that I think of them.
Current Mood: slightly disappointed

17th June 2008

1:39am: Inflammable means flammable? What a country!
From the BBC (emphasis mine):

Japanese car manufacturer Honda has begun the first commercial production of a zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle.

The four-seater, called FCX Clarity, runs on electricity produced by combining hydrogen with oxygen, and emits water vapour.

So..."zero-emission" means..."emits a greenhouse gas"?


15th April 2008

8:59pm: Wedding photos
I know these are kind of late (exactly 4 months late today, actually), but better that than never, right?

Roughly 800 KB of photographic goodnessCollapse )

11th April 2008

11:15pm: People who use "suicide" as a verb make me want to commit homicide.

Yeah, that's right, commit.
Current Mood: angry

9th February 2008

4:30pm: Alive and well back in Australia, after 38.5 consecutive hours spent in planes or airports. Jet lagged like a mofo. Photos and stuff later. Will probably put up wedding photos at the same time.

19th January 2008

1:00am: Oh, hai
brb, 3 week European honeymoon.
Current Mood: Near-fatally excited

14th November 2007

6:14pm: Damn whippersnappers and their new fangled television
Hey everyone,

I am trying to help my fairly technology-illiterate parents find some sort of device which will let them record TV shows onto a HDD and/or DVD and surf the web on their TV, with just one machine.

The problem is that I actually know nothing about this, because for one thing recording TV on anything other than a good old fashioned God fearing magnetic cassette tape has not really taken off in Australia, and further more I myself watch almost zero TV these days.

The impression I've got from talking to some of you is that all Americans and their dogs are within visual range of at least 3 of these "Tivo" things at any given time, so...

spill the beans? Is there a machine that will do this?
Current Mood: ignorant

31st October 2007

10:58pm: Hacking the great network stack in the sky...

RIP Jun-ichiro 'itojun' Itoh Hagino

"The IPV6 Samurai"

1970 - 2007

Notice at undeadly.org
Current Mood: sad

12th September 2007

11:15pm: I'm not even kidding
I am going to punch the next person I hear say "terrorist" right in the face.
Current Mood: enraged

1st September 2007

9:54pm: You could have at least said thirteen...
Some things induce so much rage in you that you just have to make an LJ entry, even if you haven't in forever.

The other night Kirsty and I went into the Baker's Delight across the street from new job and asked the girl behind the counter (who looked all of about 14) for a dozen white knot rolls.

This girl, she turns to her 14 year old colleague and aks "A dozen...that's twelve, right?".


17th January 2007

10:24am: First international post!!!1
So, I'm in Malaysia. Won't be on MSN or promptly replying to email for about a week.

They have no concept of "breakfast food" here. Everything is fair game, including fried rice and beef rendang. It's fantastic. And don't get me started on the decrepitude of the buildings...

Expect entries and photos when I return.

27th November 2006

1:18am: For serious!!!1


We're engaged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1one
Current Mood: ecstatic

5th November 2006

12:22am: Ph34r the Ph3v3r!!!
The following advert for the local Christmas pageant appears on my new bank's website:

All I have to say is: WTF? Is Pageant fever some sort of brain disorder that causes uncontrollable facial distortion and retarded makeup jobs? What the hell is this poor kid supposed to be? I can't even tell what gender the thing is, yet alone what it has to do with a Christmas pageant. Positively disturbing.

In other news, yes, I have posted to my livejournal for the first time in one million months. I'll probably do it again tomorrow, that time with some substance.

19th August 2006

10:22pm: "Yes, yes, yes!" is right!
So. Katjes Yogurt Gums. Those things Heidi Klum is endorsing on TV?

Fucking fantastic.

No, really. Go buy some.
Current Mood: Tastebudtastic

16th May 2006

8:12pm: On the black wind forever, we ride all together, destroying your evil with freedom our guide
Dragonforce. Live. Tomorrow night. Sydney.

Financial responsibility? Bah!
Current Mood: excited

2nd April 2006

10:29pm: I dance the cohab jig.
So, now I don't even live at home in name anymore.

So very, very content.
Current Mood: ecstatic

27th March 2006

9:23pm: Cat in a box
I really feel like I live at home in name only these days. Tonight will be the seventh out of the last eight that I have spent at Kirsty's. Not that I am in any way complaining. I can't recall ever being this happy for this extended a period of time. <3

Apologies to those of you waiting on emails and stuff. I do have my laptop here most days, which gives me little excuse for not replying in a decent amount of time, but my routine of computer usage has been severely interrupted and it just isn't happening. I'll be home tomorrow night - better luck then?

There is a cat in a box beside me. No poison gas involved. Very cute.
Current Mood: At home

11th February 2006

9:10pm: Safe and sound
Just a real quick update to let everybody know I am home safe and sound.

9th February 2006

8:40pm: All over, red rover.
I am down to my last 1.25 MB of internet allowance here at the college, but this is not really much of an issue, since things are pretty much wrapped up and I have to check out by 10am tomorrow. I have the better part of the day to kill aimlessly in Melbourne, and at 5:35 I fly home.

I am pretty happy about how things went here, overall. I was slightly disappointed with the crypto course in that we effectively wasted so much time talking about probability, information theory, Kolmogorov complexity and stuff like that which, interesting as it may be, is not really crucial to cryptography - or at least not so crucial that it is wise to spend so much time on it that there is none left to even touch public-key cryptography, or hash functions. I was looking forward to the scheduled elliptic curve stuff and hash function stuff most of all, and neither of them got any boardtime at all. Still, it was not a complete loss, and my understanding of cryptanalysis of both block and stream ciphers is a lot stronger because of it. The group theory courses were both interesting and intriguing, but also both a bit much. This summer school has given me the impression that Adelaide is actually pretty weak when it comes to group theory. Lots of people from other places rocked up knowing a heck of a lot more than I did, or ever could doing Adelaide courses. It is kind of upsetting to realise I am going to have to buy a big, good book on general group theory and seriously read through the whole thing to actually claim to have a good understanding of it. You just can't learn any really serious stuff at Adelaide, which kind of sucks. Anyway, toward the end of computational group theory I became aware to my great surprise that the discrete logarithm problem actually has relevancy outside of crypto, which is really exciting, because it means both that I have entirely new things to explore in my thesis and that I have a whole other set of literature I can research in. Rock on.

As fun as things have been here and as comfortable as I have become with my daily routine in a once entirely foreign city, I am really excited about going home and can't wait to get there. The sole reason for this is that my dear Kirsty has made some drastic alterations to her travel plans and, after spending the last month on what has sounded even from cursory SMS and email descriptions to be a really wonderful tour of Europe, she will be home tomorrow as well, though almost half a day earlier than me. I absolutely cannot wait to see her again! She has been the only thing I have missed while away (which actually sort of surprised me - I am apparently not all that attached to any aspect of my usual life, at least not to a degree that I can't do without it for a month). This year she returns to university and I am very excited by the prospect of being able to spend so much time with her! Super squee.

In addition to the previously mentioned fact that I now have a bona-fide @maths email address, I am very excited to announce that I now also have work at the department, marking second year applied maths assignments (and possibly some first year stuff too, but I'm still waiting to hear back regarding that). The hourly pay rate is dizzying, but the actual amount of work is modest, so overall it is not really a substantial income, but it is a very welcome supplement to what I get from Vietnamese school. Between the two I should be quite fine spending my holidays working on my thesis instead of working, and frankly any amount of money that I can earn by doing maths instead of actually working (in the sense of suffering) is good money.

For those who care, some sort of introduction-esque thing to some sort of fetal-stage development of an approximation to a draft of my honours thesis:

The concept of a logarithm is familiar to most people from high school mathematics as the inverse operation of exponentiation, defined over the even more familiar real numbers. While undoubtedly useful, this continuous logarithm is a relatively unremarkable concept. It can be computed quickly and accurately by pocket calculators in practically any circumstance. This is not true, however, of the analogous concept defined over a finite cyclic group. The task of computing these discrete logarithms (the so-called discrete logarithm problem or DLP) is not only non-trivial but in fact notoriously difficult. In a group of sufficiently high order, it may be computationally infeasible to compute a discrete logarithm using known techniques and existing computer hardware.

The extreme difficulty of the discrete logarithm problem (combined with the computational ease of the inverse operation, discrete exponentiation) has found it frequent application in the field of public-key (or asymmetric) cryptography. A thorough understanding of the known methods for computing discrete logarithms, their relative efficiencies, and their applicabilities to various groups is an essential tool for assessing the security of the many existing cryptosystems which rely on the intractability of the DLP, as well as for the informed design of new such systems.

At the same time as the difficulty of the DLP is something of a boon to cryptography, it represents a significant stumbling block to the the field of computational group theory, in which many questions of natural interest cannot be answered with solving some form of the DLP (for example, computing the order of an arbitrary element of a given group and hence the order of the subgroup it generates). Here the development of more efficient algorithms for solving the DLP is needed to increase the ease with which we can use computers to investigate the structure of groups.

This thesis presents a survey of the best known algorithms for solving the discrete logarithm problem and explores their application to cryptography and computational group theory. The time and space complexity of each algorithm is analyzed, and in some cases the performance of example implementations is presented and discussed. Aspects of group theory relevant to the solution of the problem will also be discussed.

I suppose that, in addition to being able to be with Kirsty again, I am also excited about going home for the reason that I can then start getting some serious work done on this whole honours thing. I took full advantage of the unlimited print credit they generously gave us at RMIT and have a few papers I really need to try to absorb. That, and everybody else has spent the entire last week working on their projects, so I'm going to be pretty far behind rocking up on Monday with naught but an introduction thing.
Current Mood: excited

5th February 2006

5:34pm: Let me tell you where I'm at...
Today is the happiest day of my life.

Today I have an @maths.adelaide.edu.au email address.

At. Maths.

Fuck yeah.
Current Mood: excited
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