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Alex Quinn
Attends University of Maryland
Lives in College Park, MD
1,893 followers|127,396 views
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Tip: Set your CAMERA clock back.  I usually forget this one, and then all of my photo time stamps are off by 1 hour.
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Alex Quinn

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Cute song about paying income taxes
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Last Friday, I wrote to Evernote to let them know I've been receiving bogus password reset confirmation emails periodically over the past 7 months.  The next day, they announced they had discovered a security breach affecting 50 million accounts. I can't help but wonder if I helped tip them off to the intrusion.
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Oh LinkedIn, we learned about salt in undergrad. Someone prob skipped the crypto courses!
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Lately, some Republicans have quipped that only Democrats should pay the extra taxes for spending Republicans don't want. That would only be fair if there were some conditions:

• Republicans who refused to fund the Pell Grant or federally subsidized student loans would not be allowed to hire workers who were educated by them. When those people got better jobs and paid higher taxes as a result of the college education they couldn't otherwise afford, the extra taxes would go into the Democrat's pool of tax revenue.

• Republicans who refused to fund the NSF would not be allowed to use the resulting research in their businesses, or hire the graduate students who gained experience (and PhDs) by way of those projects. (Example: Both founders of Google were NSF-funded graduate students.)

• Republicans who refused to fund the NIH and CDC would not be allowed to receive medicine or medical treatments that benefited from the NIH- or CDC-funded research.

• Republican employers who forced their workers to go to the government for health care would be required to reimburse the government when those healthier employees missed fewer work days.

• Republicans who refused to fund mental health and substance abuse programs would have to pay the extra cost of police to manage the unstable people walking around, and prisons to incarcerate them when they flip out and do terrible things.

• Republicans who refused to fund public schools enough to buy modern facilities and materials, and pay salaries that attract/retain great teachers would not be allowed to hire the more competent students they produced.

• Republicans who refused to fund all of the above would not be allowed to invest in companies that benefited. That means no investments (i.e., stock, mutual funds, pensions, etc.) in the US technology, health care, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, oil/gas, or aerospace/automotive sectors.

This is just to illustrate some of the indirect benefits people in the upper brackets receive for their tax money. It would be hard to succeed in business without workers who are competent, properly educated, and healthy. Fortunately, not all Republicans are so short-sighted, nor are all employers Republicans (or vice versa).
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+Ed Kohlwey : Yeah, they think it makes more sense than it does. They get into a mindset where taxes are like a forced donation to a charity in some other world. We don't pay taxes to be nice. We pay them because the wellbeing of our society affects all of us.
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This timer is a prized possession. As soon as the meat or fish has the optimum internal temperature, it beeps. No time calculations, cutting into the food to check doneness, or even opening the oven door to look. . . . . (Thanks, +*** for getting this for me in 2011.)
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Alex Quinn

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MATH PROBLEM ... You and your friends want to create a scale of sweetness (taste) for many types of fruit. Each person tastes a few fruits and scores them like this:
• Anne: banana=0.0, papaya=0.7, cantaloupe=1.0
• Bert: papaya=0.0, cantaloupe=0.4, peach=1.0
• Carl: strawberry=0.0, papaya=0.7, peach=1.0
• …

In other words, of the three fruits Anne tasted, she found cantaloupe sweetest, banana least sweet, and papaya closer to cantaloupe than to banana.

Every person will score a few (but not all) fruits. Every fruit will be tasted/scored by a few (but not all) people. Scores are all relative, i.e., no explicit units.

The end result should look something like this:
• 0.0 banana
• 0.2 strawberry
• 0.4 papaya
• 0.5 cantaloupe
• 1.0 peach

GOAL: How can I use the individual scores to calculate the global scores?

____________________________
If you recognize the form of the problem, I'd greatly appreciate a pointer.

As I see it, I need to scale and shift each person’s scores so they are compatible (or approximately so) with the others, and then renormalize them all back to 0.0 to 1.0. Originally, I thought I could express the individual scores as an over-specified system of linear equations, and solve it using least squares. I can’t figure out how to set it up for that. Maybe it needs something fancier than linear regression. I don't know.

This is for my research—part of building a system for crowdsourcing decisions.
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:-):-):-)
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Python: Why does it take 13,703,112,000 bytes of RAM to create an array of 1,000,000,000 null values?  While executing the following statement, it peaked at 13.1 GB.  After it finished, it settled back to 7.5 GB.
>>> a = tuple(None for _ in xrange(10**9))
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Last time I worked on the performance of my dissertation project (CPU-bound Python code), I had a choice between porting a critical module to C (or psyco, pyrex, etc.) or optimizing a few key functions.  The latter paid big dividends.  Despite the overhead of using Python, it always seems to be a better use of my time to optimize the pure Python code.  A 10x speedup (or whatever) will be a one-time gain, and after that, it will be more work to optimize any of it.

There are at least a dozen ways the performance of this code could be significantly improved, but I only have time to implement 2-3 of them (at most) so I have to pick and choose.  I profile everything and run lots of little experiments to compare alternatives.
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I wish.  Alas, I've got another year to go.
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Possibly the strangest video I've ever seen…
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+Holly Quinn You're right!
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Merry Christmas! . . . I wish Christmas was quarterly, or at least semi-annual. Once a year was never enough!
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People
Have him in circles
1,893 people
Work
Occupation
graduate student
Employment
  • graduate student, present
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
College Park, MD
Previously
Seattle, WA - Aioi, Japan
Story
Tagline
Human-computer interaction, computer science, grad student, University of Maryland, ice cream
Introduction
I research human-computer interaction (HCI) and computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park as a PhD student.  I also like to make ice cream.
Education
  • University of Maryland
    Computer Science, present
  • University of Washington
    Computer Science
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Alex Quinn