My thoughts on the importance of perception management, in addition to actually being good, by way of a chat log.
I had the fortune to get to know this guy about five or six years older than me because we started a job on the same day, when I was straight out of school, who was willing to tell or at least hint to me some realities about the corporate world. I never worked directly with him, but we would chat during lunch and at various events. Most memorable was when he said to me, “like you’re more competent than most CEOs of corporations.” I was like, “wait really?” You see, at that time, I was still a clueless kid. Amused by my naiveté, he went on to tell me, “haha, being a CEO is not about competence, it’s about being in the club, once you’re in, it’s basically impossible to fail. It’s about having obtained certain credentials and networks, like a name school MBA and an executive position at a company. Once you’re in that group and the people there accept you, you’re a perpetual CEO.” Interestingly, I vaguely remember that he also mentioned Meg Whitman, in a tone that made it seem as if he actually had a high opinion of her.
I recall when I was in high school, some old guy told me that Microsoft got really lucky with its IBM deal. I didn’t know about that, and I didn’t care enough to learn about that until today. Apparently, Microsoft bought the license for an operating system created by Gary Kildall and his company by the name of CP/M, from which they derived MS-DOS. It is said that Microsoft basically
I’ve been asked to prove the Big Picard theorem, assuming the fundamental normality test. Assuming the latter, it is a very short proof, and I could half-ass with that. I don’t like writing up stuff that I don’t actually understand for the sake of doing so. There’s little point, and if I’m going to actually write up a proof of it, I’ll do so for real, which means that I go over the fundamental normality test in its entirety.
I recently learned that face recognition, led by unicorns SenseTime and Megvii, has reached the level of accuracy and comprehensiveness that it is percolating into retail and banking, and moreover police are using it to detect suspects, or so various media articles say, like this one. Just Google “face recognition china.” I’m both surprised and impressed. Of course, in hindsight, what they did was mostly collect, aggregate, and organize enough data to train the deep learning models to the level that they can be put to production. The Chinese government has, after all, resident identity cards for all Chinese citizens with photos. I was certainly somewhat envious of the people involved in that in China, and I feel like such a failure compared to them, and that my life has been so boring and uneventful in comparison. Of course, whether I’m suited to do deep learning is another matter. After playing a bit with neural nets, including on the canonical MNIST data set, I sure was disappointed, and I understood immediately why this guy, who is doing a machine learning PhD at Stanford, had said to me that deep learning is very engineering heavy. I wish I had the enthusiasm and motivation for stuff like GPUs. As for that, all I’ve done was play with CUDA in a way so minor almost as if I did absolutely nothing. Again I don’t see myself as terribly suited towards engineering (I’m too much a purist at heart), but I might eventually be compelled to become interested in that, and once I do, I don’t think I’ll do badly. This also makes me wonder what I would’ve ended up like had I stayed in China. I’m sure I would’ve been weird there too, though I would also be more like everyone else. I wonder what I would have ended up majoring in there, and what I would’ve ended up doing afterwards. I’d like to think that I would have gotten a much better education and cultural experience there, though of course, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. For instance, in America, Asian quotas means you are judged relative to other Asians, but being in China means that automatically, and China, by virtue of having low resources per capita, is, needless to say, a grossly competitive society with fewer second chances, and thereby even harsher on late bloomers, though surely, the gaokao happens at age 18, whereas in America, grades start necessarily mattering at as early as age 14-5, when many are still very immature. I must acknowledge that as much as I dislike various aspects of the American education system, it is extremely generous, from what I see, relatively speaking, in tolerating failure at a young age. In China, you test into a specific department at a university, and once you’re in, it’s very hard to change, which means some land in majors they end up finding themselves unsuitable for. At age 18, it’s really hard to make such a decision, especially when you don’t really know anything about the actual content of the major, which is usually the case when one is a clueless kid. This is why I say that before you commit officially to an area, always try to learn something about it on your own beforehand to increase confidence that you actually have at least reasonable, and preferably high, talent for it.
I like mathematics a ton and I am not bad at it. In fact, I am probably better than many math graduate students at math, though surely, they will have more knowledge than I do in some respects, or maybe even not that, because frankly, the American undergrad math major curriculum is often rather pathetic, well maybe largely because the students kind of suck. In some sense, you have to be pretty clueless to be majoring in just pure math if you’re not a real outlier at it, enough to have a chance at a serious academic career. Of course, math professors won’t say this. So we have now an excess of people who really shouldn’t be in science (because they much lack the technical power or an at least reasonable scientific taste/discernment, or more often both) adding noise to the job market. On this, Katz in his infamous Don’t Become a Scientist piece writes:
I had the pleasure of volunteering for a math festival for elementary school children. There were puzzles, mathematical games, various fun math worksheets (sometimes with figures of animals as variable names heh), building blocks, and the likes. It was organized by some Russians working in technical fields in the area, of which one family has produced some relatively distinguished mathematicians, which go back to, of course, the Soviet era. I was thoroughly impressed by their organization, energy, and enthusiasm, as well as their variety. I had briefly attended back when I was a high school student the math circle that they had started well before then even and kept up till now.
I recently saw how now China is demanding that airlines across the world stop listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate countries. And it is succeeding somewhat, with several, the most prominent of which is arguably Delta, having already succumbed. When I just looked at the countries of visitors of my site, I was pleased to see some hits from Taiwan. Could the Chinese government start demanding the same from WordPress? Well, WordPress would have no reason to care, because it is already banned in China anyway, so it has nothing to lose, and also nothing to gain unless the Chinese government offers in exchange to un-ban it, which seems exceedingly unlikely. And because of that, I am hosting this on another domain, while still using WordPress as the content generation and storage tool. To be honest, I also refer to Taiwan as separate from China, because it really is different. It’s been under its own system since 1950 when the KMT fled there, and has obviously developed its own political culture. There is also that it was colonized by Japan and was really only settled by Han Chinese from the 17th century on, not to mention that it was also briefly colonized by the Dutch and Spanish, until Koxinga. So I guess the place is not so integrally Chinese. The aborigines there were displaced, with the Han population in Taiwan’s being higher than it is in mainland China, and nobody really cares about that, even less so than people care about what happened to the Native Americans.
I accidentally stuffed my face last night and found myself too uncomfortable from that to do anything productive, to my great disappointment. So I verged onto non-technical topics again, and in particular, I reflected somewhat on my personal experience growing up as a Chinese immigrant kid in America, and I write this with a hope that it might be inspiring to others with a similar background.
I am writing this as a way to go through in detail the section on elliptic functions in Schlag’s book.
Proposition 4.14. Let and set . For any integer , the series Continue reading “Elliptic functions”