Monday July 4th

July 4th and Research and Mid-point evaluation

Today is July 4th

  • I didn’t get to sleep until after 1am, and got up around 3:30am to attend the workshop on Total Search Problems, which is super relevant to some work I am doing for my non-work project. Specifically, on congestion games and Pure NE (Nash Equilibria) and TFNP. It was a small group of us, based in Paris (no more than say, 25 in our Zoom room, although there were persons physically at the workshop in a room), attended by professors at various UK institutions, but all of the talks were very interesting, and I took copious notes. One paper in particular was very relevant to my proof, which is fantastic, involving bounds for delay utility functions. Our problem is very specific, though, so none of these resources really cover what our paper will 100%. There has been a person who recently gave a talk (with a publication in May) who did look at and improve upon some of the bounds of some of the work we looked at, but it’s still not quite our problem. There was also another individual who pointed us to a paper where they analyzed some of the constraints of the system, but it isn’t quite what we are looking for with respect to this paper, but I still have to keep track of these resourses for our background section and references and will definitely cite them. Our mentor has even gotten references via the developer mailing list, which is awesome. We have a discord group where we have been posting papers and articles, and my mentor likes the social media thing (I’m a bit more timid about that stuff). We are also not looking at necessarily representing it based on past literature, and our optimized cost function has different assumptions. There have been persons who have done research on our system, but the person who really accurately can model and knows about this best is my mentor; he has been one of the core persons working on these problems for about four years now, along with a mix of engineers, even though he has also has a research background / did the Academic route / publishes. So it’s really a unique opportunity.
  • We have looked at a number of mechanisms along the way, too, both mathematical, game-theory related, and random processes related. It’s been kind of a wild ride.
  • He has also been really great in dedicating time when he can, because there is a lot of interest in the work he is doing, from both the academic and the engineering communities. It’s a very interdisciplinary problem that is a unique mix of Reliability / Scalability, Mechanism Design, Game Theory, Cryptography, Cryptocurrency. Interestingly, I have already been at the intersection of a lot of these communities, which is funny. I did not plan that at all. So it’s been nice running into people again. I really enjoyed in particular reading and hearing about Goldberg’s work from his talk; I saw him speak at another workshop I recently attended and am receiving a matched mentor for; I am really looking forward to that. It’s also funny to talk with my dad about some of this stuff and see him light up; after all, he worked in econometrics and taught at the Master’s level for several years and also studied in the UK. Sometimes when we are talking he will just say “look at X”, which will take me to an interesting reference that is quite relevant.
  • So I used some of the information I learned today to start a draft on what our paper might look like, even though I know our mentor has thoughts on that, too. At this point, he pretty much has most of the paper drafted out in his head, and we already have quite a few results (we are pretty close to a paper, but this is all supposed to last through the duration of the opportunity so the timelines are based on that). Our intent is not to present these at a conference, or anything, but the work really just needs to be done; there are a lot of problems that should be explored with respect to this. Interestingly, someone had said something similarly at another workshop I attended.
  • I also got around to reading 4 papers that I had planned to get into, which were pretty useful, too.


  • So by around late afternoon, I was not only very hungry because I hadn’t eaten all day, but also, not getting any sleep was beginning to take its toll on me. So In took a nap in between doing laundry (45 minute nap between washer cycle, and 45 minute nap between dryer cycle). This ended up being a good thing, because I was able to attend a meditation session with a friend for an hour. So that was my July 4th; not terribly exciting, I know. I’m still in NYC, so there are definitely fireworks, although it does seem a lot quieter than you would expect, which is nice for me.


  • So, it’s midpoint for my project, and so I had to do the cat-herding thing where I had to get all my paperwork and code and everything all in one place. It was a fair amount of work, because for one, my original progress document is about 56 pages long now. It is a mix of mathematical notation, notes, plans, comments from my mentor, etc. So that had to be cleaned up in a new document.
  • Our mentor has also been talking about our work, and we even were mentioned in a research post, too, for a major cryptocurrency research space. So it’s been kind of an ideal situation for someone who isn’t fully in this community yet. Today, as I was looking at the workshop, though, I couldn’t help but think how much I loved the mathematical community. They are literally my people, and I love that there is a space where I can use some computational skills, but don’t necessarily have to sit at a desk and spin up code each day (phew). I think that this and the theory / proofs work is kind of the sweet spot for me, but in particular, I just really like theoretical research with a smidgen of coding (like, broken code that barely works but okay I guess kind of thing).
  • I also have plans to write a blog post with another one of the students, and had attended seminars based on readings we had to do on SegWit, P2P, Mining and other such topics. In the first seminar, I was dubbed the “deputy”, which means I had to lead the discussion. I had forgotten I had made slides for those, so I had to drag those out, too, and include them in my progress.
  • I also have several arbitrary notebooks with random bits of code, including some I hadn’t committed yet, and we even used Wolfram in one session to talk about asymmetric random walks with drift.
  • Also, I am literally only blogging about these things because we were told to do so, but I can’t do this sort of thing regularly because I have to focus on the actual project, etc.

All in All

  • It’s really been a unique experience; definitely not one that I could have imagined I could find in Academia. It’s been a nice balance with some of the other projects I have been working on, and has informed how I approach some of my other projects. I feel inspired to just publish more and keep working in this field. But first, the paper :)

And that’s it

Written on July 4, 2022