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Michael Kleber
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Attended Harvard
Lives in Newton, MA
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Excellent article by Erica Klarreich on the recent mysterious discoveries of more Moonshine-like connections between sporadic simple groups, K3 surfaces, and mock theta functions of Ramanujan's that blew Hardy away.  (If I had remained a mathematician, this might have been in my zip code.)

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150312-mathematicians-chase-moonshines-shadow/
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We should talk about that sometime. I spent a couple years as a student of Conway trying to understand some part of Moonshine, but in retrospect I was woefully underprepared.
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Ah, life with kids.
 
Outpsyching two children at once

My 4-year-old and 7-year-old both used to want to get out first when they had a bath together. And when I say "want" I mean wanting of the big-fuss-if-you-don't-get-your-way variety. Over the last year or so, this has resulted in an elaborate evolution of procedures for getting them both out of the bath without tedious scenes from at least one of them. (I've sometimes mismanaged it to the extent that they have both ended up in tears, but fortunately that's the exception rather than the rule.)

Initially it was fairly simple: they just took turns. The younger one complained when it wasn't her turn, but she got used to the system. But then new grounds for complaints came in. They would have a hairwash every other day, and after a while the 7-year-old started saying things like, "It's unfair that I never get to get out first when it isn't hairwash day." So for a while we tried a system where one child would get out first for two days, and then the other, and so on. That created another difficulty -- that of remembering where we were in the cycle -- but it wasn't too bad. Another problem was that the 4-year-old (then 3) didn't really understand the system, and would say things like, "But Octave got out first yesterday!" which would be true.

Sometimes our normal routine would be disrupted -- for example, if we were out and got back too late for them to have a bath. I think it was something like that that threw me so much that I resorted to tossing a coin to decide who should get out first. That opened up a whole new can of worms. First of all, my 7-year-old liked the system and asked for a coin to be tossed every evening. So far so good, though of course there would be occasional lucky streaks for one child and consequent complaints by the other. But then a new dispute arose. For some time the 4-year-old always wanted to be tails and the 7-year-old always wanted to be heads. But then the 4-year-old decided she too wanted to be heads, and the 7-year-old was not ready to change. 

Oh, another development I've forgotten to mention is that at some point the reward for the winner was not to get out of the bath first, but to choose who got out of the bath first, because they stopped automatically wanting to get out first. For quite some time, the 4-year-old would, when she had the choice, say that the 7-year-old was getting out first, and he would say, "Ha ha ha -- that's what I wanted anyway," but after a while she got wise to it and better at calculating what would annoy her brother. 

Anyhow, going back to the coins, I introduced a new element, which was a guess-which-hand routine. The person who guessed which hand the coin was in got to decide whether they were heads or tails. No prizes for guessing what happened then: they both wanted to guess my left hand. 

The most baroque procedure I ever used was a four-round one. I started by insisting that the 7-year-old chose tails and the 4-year-old chose heads. Then the winner of that round got to choose whether they were heads or tails for the next round, and so on. Then the winner of the last round chose who got out of the bath first. The idea was that the injustice of the first round would not be keenly felt after a few subsequent rounds, since by then usually both children would have won at least one round and had the illusion of controlling their destiny.

Finally to what happened yesterday. I didn't have a coin on me so I did a what-hand procedure. A trick I've introduced recently is to play this in rounds too. If they both choose the same hand, I then open my hands to show them which one contained the object, and we have another round. This sometimes induces them to change hand, and after a round or two I usually end up with them choosing different hands.

Yesterday, I had a new problem. They both chose my left hand, but just as I was opening my hands to show them that they had both been right, my daughter (the 4-year-old) switched her guess to my right hand. So I told my son that he could choose who got out first. Unsurprisingly, my daughter complained about this on the grounds that she had chosen my left hand too. 

It was a bit of a grey area, so I decided I had better run the game again. But that was a little unfair on my son. So what I needed to do to make everything work out was ensure that my son would win again. The point of this post is that that was possible. I don't know quite how I was so certain, but it was obvious to me that my 4-year-old would reason, "It was in his left hand last time, so it will be in his left hand," while my 7-year-old would reason, "It was in his left hand last time, so it will be in his right hand." So I put it in my right hand, and my daughter did indeed choose my left hand and my son my right hand. For what it's worth, my son then chose that my daughter should get out first, and my daughter was OK with that decision.

My guess is that there is a development stage that my son has been through and my daughter is yet to go through. Certainly there are interesting experiments in the psychological literature -- testing things like whether children can put themselves in the position of other people -- that would suggest that something like that is going on. But my son's development isn't yet finished: when he's a few years older, he will realize that there isn't just bluff, but also double bluff, treble bluff etc. and then neither of us will be able to outpsych the other. 
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There is in fact a developmental change at that age. See "Theories of Development Concepts and Applications" by William Crain. Several theorists notice a change in problem solving skills around age 5-7.
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Hat tip to +Fish N for pointing to these incredible graphs of this year's snow accumulation vs previous years.

http://weather.ou.edu/~splillo/misc.html
Boston Logan Airport Buffalo Niagara Airport New York JFK Airport Chicago O'Hare Airport.
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We were thinking about <trip><fly src="Denver" dst="Logan" /><drive src="Logan" dst="Middleburry" /></trip> for visiting the relatives. Looks like a bad plan during the winter.
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Take Google's 2-minute "Security Checkup" by Feb. 17, to make sure nothing unexpected has access to your accounts.  Get an extra 2GB of Google Drive quota as a thank-you.

http://googledrive.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/safer-internet-day-2015.html
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Chanukah Chanukah:
Judah the Maccabee
Starts a revolt with
Guerrilla techniques.

Later the Temple gets
Monotheistically
Rededicated with-
-out any Greeks.
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Check out this gem, buried in the 17th graf of an NYTimes story about dropping taxi medallion prices:

The trouble in New York’s market was also partly obscured by a flaw in the average price reports that were published monthly by the city’s taxi commission until September. Those reports erroneously said average prices for individual medallions had stayed largely the same since setting a record of $1.05 million in June 2013.

In fact, individual medallions have traded below $1 million for most of the last year. But the commission excludes from its statistics any transaction at a price more than $10,000 below the previous month’s reported average.

Hah!  Way to build your assumptions into your methodology!  So why on earth would they do such a thing?

The commission does so in the name of excluding sales that do not occur at an arm’s length — say, between two relatives.

I wonder if statistics about home prices are similarly fixed to ignore those sales for $1 between relatives — and if so, whether those fixes lead to similarly misleading data when HUD sells vacant foreclosure-acquired homes for $1 after six months.
Market data suggests that the taxi business, which has undergone little change over many decades, is in the midst of a revolution.
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+Daniel Egnor Same story here. We bought a property in two transactions (former ownership was split). Zillow is terribly confused.
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Twenty-five years ago yesterday, on October 17th 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area and central coast.

I was a college freshman at the time.  My father worked for NBC News, and as a result I had access to his account on the NBC mainframe in New York: I could dial into it on my 1200 baud modem and read AP wire reports in real time.

You kids these days may not appreciate this, but this was a big deal — once upon a time, breaking news was hard to come by.  I stayed up half the night printing out the most recent reports, taping them to the door of my dorm room so all the Californian freshmen could find out what was going on at home.

The next morning I stumbled into the freshman dining hall, wearing a blue satin NBC News jacked just like the one pictured here, and sat down at a table with +Michael Hutchings (who would be my roommate for the next three years).  Across from him was a young woman I didn't know.  A minute later, she asked "Who won the world series game last night?"  Um: the earthquake did.

It turned out she was from northern California, had been at a play rehearsal all night, and knew nothing about the earthquake.  I recited the key information — magnitude, epicenter, extent of injuries and damages — and she promptly ran out to get in touch with her family and friends to make sure everyone was all right.

It wasn't until a year after we became friends that +Jessica Polito and I realized that we were the anonymous third person in each other's version of this story: that she was the "clueless Californian" and I was the "guy in the NBC jacket".  We've been married 19 years now, but it's been 25 years to the day since we first met.

You know those science fiction stories where some terrible event has happened, and our hero travels back in time to prevent it before it even takes place?  I have to admit, I wonder sometimes what I was going to say over breakfast — what awful thing I would have done, that would have ruined my chance of ever ending up with Jessica — that meant that alternate-reality-me had to go on to invent both a time machine and an earthquake machine just to stop me from having ever said it.

Happy Anniversary, my love.  It's been a great 25 years.
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If you wore that jacket, and you still wound up together, it seems to me there's not much you could have done to spoil your chances. :)
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Is this headline nonsensical word salad, or is it just me?

"Brrr! February introduced report cold to Northeast cities file snow to Boston"

http://www.thebeaconreview.com/us/brrr-february-introduced-report-cold-to-northeast-cities-file-snow-to-boston-h8654.html
February 2015 was one for the record books in the Northeast — the coldest month ever for four cities in New York and the snowiest ever for Boston.
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"Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers"
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Hey, guess what?  There is a lot of snow outside.

#TheGreatPileUpOf2015  
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Snowy morning in Newton.
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Pretty.
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Graffiti artist Odeith wanted to make his street art stand out, so he decided to create murals that are also anamorphic illusions. By skewing is images in just the right way and painting "shadows" on the walls and ground, Odeith is able to create designs that look like 3D objects hovering in space.
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+Girls Who Code sounds like a great program, really happy to see a club starting in Newton.  Good luck, +David Miller!
 
I'll be teaching at a new Girls Who Code Club at the Newton Public Library. The first meeting is Friday November 14, from 4pm-6pm, and we'll meet weekly on Fridays after that through May. The club is for girls in Grades 6-12, and the curriculum is designed so that girls can join up anywhere during the first month.

For more information on the club, see www.girlswhocode.com/clubs.

To sign up for the club, contact Liz Rowland at the Newton Public Library: lrowland@minlib.net.

Please forward this message widely, and especially to students and parents who might be interested in joining.
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Work
Occupation
Software Engineer
Employment
  • Google
    Software Engineer, 2007 - present
  • MIT Math Department
    1998 - 2001
  • Brandeis Math Department
    2001 - 2004
  • Broad Institute at MIT
    2004 - 2006
  • BBN Technologies
    2006 - 2007
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Currently
Newton, MA
Previously
Rockville, MD - Berkeley, CA - Cambridge, MA
Story
Tagline
Mathematician, at Google, making the web faster.
Introduction
I'm a mathematician and algorithm designer.  I now work for Google making things go faster, and keep my finger in recreational mathematics on the side.
Education
  • Harvard
    Math, 1989 - 1993
  • UC Berkeley
    Math, 1993 - 1998
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Michael Kleber's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
Alice's adventures in Wonderland
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Triple Town
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Triple Town, by Spry Fox, is an original puzzle game in which you try to create a great city!

Today's Google Offer in Boston - $10 for $20 toward puzzles, games and m...
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5000+ puzzles &amp; games for all ages. Toys to make you think and have fun. Unique gift ideas for the holidays. Convenient Coolidge Corner

Through the Looking Glass
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The dot &amp; the line
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Once upon a time there was a sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a beautiful dot. But the dot, though perfect in every wa

Sesame Street: Share It Maybe
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Cookie Monster spoofs Carly Rae Jepsen's song "Call Me Maybe." For more fun games and videos for your preschooler in a safe, child-friendly

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
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Bought a new C-Max hybrid here, just a week after they arrived at the first dealerships. Surprisingly pleasant and relaxed car-buying experience -- much nicer than the other hybrids we test-drove the same weekend. What's more, they had the car we wanted on the lot, and after checking around, no one could beat their price, nor offer us another dollar on our trade-in. Thumbs up.
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