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Lars Hellsten
Works at Google
Attended University of Waterloo
Lived in Toronto, Ontario
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Lars Hellsten

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I wonder why this is the first time I've heard of this guy.  Reading some of his tweets in the deadspin article, his enthusiasm is inspiring!  It's too bad though that a lot of the comments kind of dismiss him as a freak (genius) and don't acknowledge the message he's trying to convey about the beauty of mathematics; one need not be a genius to develop such an appreciation.

http://deadspin.com/ravens-lineman-john-urschel-loves-math-more-than-you-lo-1692687404?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow
 
"I play because I love the game. I love hitting people. There's a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you. This is a feeling I'm (for lack of a better word) addicted to, and I'm hard-pressed to find anywhere else. My teammates, friends and family can attest to this: When I go too long without physical contact I'm not a pleasant person to be around. This is why, every offseason, I train in kickboxing and wrestling in addition to my lifting, running and position-specific drill work. I've fallen in love with the sport of football and the physical contact associated with it."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/20/394340722/john-urschel-ravens-offensive-lineman-publishes-math-paper
"A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians" was published in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. It's not Urschel's first paper.
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Lars Hellsten

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Google has been rethinking self-driving cars from the ground up. Today we unveiled a prototype self-driving car built by Google. Watch the video from the page below to see how it works!
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Lars Hellsten

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Everybody's featuring their "graphs and charts of the year," like The Atlantic and the Washington Post (be sure to see Vice-President Joe Biden's "Graph of the Year" on Amtrak ridership). Well, the...
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Wow.  I'm thinking this must be a superficial act of bureaucracy that should be resolved relatively quickly, but you never know when the government is going to behave rationally nowadays.

Edit: okay, after actually reading the letter it does not seem to justify the outrage.  23andme seems fairly culpable here as they haven't been forthcoming in responding to the FDA's requests.  The ban will only go into effect if they don't follow up.
 
FDA bans 23andMe test kits.

It appears that the medical-industrial complex has finally ordered its flunkies in government to stop people from knowing about their own DNA. 

The FDA thinks that your genes are none of your business. They belong to the corporations that charge by far the highest healthcare costs in the world. 

The FDA ordered +23andMe to immediately stop selling their saliva testing kits. And why? They say it's because it could lead people to seek out the wrong medical treatments. 

The medical industrial complex works like movie theaters -- they can't charge $5 for a bag of popcorn if you bring your own. The medical industrial complex can double their prices only if they have a monopoly on healthcare. The FDA's 23andMe crackdown is part of a larger effort by the government to eliminate alternatives to America's family-crushing, economy-destroying healthcare costs. 

The last thing the medical industrial complex wants is informed citizens with insights into their own genetic information. You're supposed to be a dumb consumer of medical services, blindly obeying your doctor (who has been pressured and paid off by the drug and medical equipment companies to maximize costs). 

You'll notice the FDA is doing nothing about the looming antibiotics disaster or the 100,000 Americans who die each year from prescription drugs. Those are highly profitable for the industry. 

But allowing people to know about their own health? This is what the FDA thinks demands urgent action. 

If the FDA were honestly concerned about the threat of wrong treatment, they would have instead banned +23andMe from revealing or sharing information about the specific diseases they claim to be concerned about, and allow the company to offer results on both the majority of the information they share about disease, and also information about ancestry. 

What they clearly want instead is to financially cripple companies that are informing people about their own health. You can NOT bring your own popcorn into this theater. 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304281004579219893863966448

http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2013/ucm376296.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/health-care-costs-_n_3998425.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2012/03/01/why-are-u-s-health-care-costs-so-high/

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/17/local/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918

https://plus.google.com/+MikeElgan/posts/a9EeXgES589
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I'm a huge fan of +23andMe.  I hope they get thing straightened out quickly.  In the meantime, maybe I'll order the kits for the rest of my family as a precaution...
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I've only done two cash transactions, but eliminating the penny is the best thing since crack and the US needs to follow suit immediately.
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Also, how are things going for you? must be doing pretty well out there considering who you're working for.  Must be pretty exciting stuff.
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Lars Hellsten

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Web search, mobile computing devices, near-flawless speech recognition, machine translation, and self-driving cars are some of the innovations I see every day that would have seemed pretty far out there when I was a child.  But a bunch of R2-D2-like things roaming around outside?  It's not the most sophisticated technology these days, yet somehow seems like a much more stark reminder that we pretty much live in a science fiction world.  If they're still there I may have to take a short detour on my next bike ride to work!

http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-has-new-robot-security-guards-2014-11
Robots are increasingly replacing humans in a...
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Apparently the three major US cities whose dialect most closely matches mine are Honolulu, Seattle, and San Jose.  I happen to have lived in two of them and certainly wouldn't mind living in Hawaii at some point in the future so my result seems quite accurate. =)

I tried my best to answer according to what I grew up with in Toronto though, i.e. "pop" even though I've converted to "soda", and "highway" rather than "freeway".  So now I wonder if I've picked up other words from my environment subconsciously.  A quick search of social media shows other Ontario natives getting varied results but mostly from the northeast, midwest, and Washington.  ("pop" may be largely responsible for the latter.)

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html?r=80010091040010b00j040000j0n008040j0j11800102080001
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I came across McGill's Office for Science & Society blog, which is devoted to debunking pseudoscience.  There seems to be some great content here, written to be easily digestible by a layperson.  I think I'll be following this.  (Alas, it seems they're not on G+ yet.)

http://blogs.mcgill.ca/oss/
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Magic decoder ring for financial news (ht +Ezra Klein). Come to think of it, why read financial "news"?
My job requires reading a lot of financial news...
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A nice article in BusinessWeek about UWaterloo, but I found the Hacker News comments on the story to be the most interesting part.  There's some heady praise there, including from Paul Graham himself.  I haven't seen UW compared to US universities in such detail before.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6654796

HT +Yew Jin Lim 
Cribbed from a recent Quora answer of mine: The Waterloo (CS/Eng) intern ecosystem is immensely strong. First year students generally work at the best companies that they can, often taking smaller startups where they are able to learn the most. There's a steady transition to final co-op terms, ...
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The sidewalk in front of a central building on the Google campus.  I know tech recruiters are desperate these days (+Kenton Varda trolls a high frequency trading headhunter: http://goo.gl/m2xKO), but really?
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Have him in circles
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Education
  • University of Waterloo
    Mathematics, 1997 - 2004
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  • Google
    Software Engineer, 2005 - present
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Toronto, Ontario - Waterloo, Ontario - Redmond, WA - Mountain View, CA
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