Thursday July 29th

RLOS Week 11 and the world of loaded assumptions

This week has been amazing!

  • I’ve been in a blockchain bootcamp with some people from Cornell, and they actually let me contribute!
  • The team is truly amazing, and probably one of the nicest I’ve been in. Everyone is super smart, super knowledgeable, but they also seem to be without ego, so even with my limited knowledge, I was able to learn and contribute. I’m super grateful! We’re working on a fairness ordering consensus algorithm and simulator for this coding camp where we are split into teams and work on projects for the week and present on Saturday. We also have talks throughout the day, too. Bear in mind I’m also doing RLOS and interning, so I can only listen in while working, and stuff like that, and my time is limited, but I’ve still been able to participate because they start a lot earlier than work and on days where I don’t have to do RLOS work, etc, which is nice.
  • The talks were amazing and I was able to catch up with people I knew from the general cryptography community, too.
  • I was supposed to meet with my zk mentor today online but he was working in a virtual booth so we just ended up hanging out there, on Gather Town, instead. What’s funny is that people know me by name now! That’s so wild! I also made a new friend, who is working on work related to oblivious transfer and Tor and she is amazing!

SFPC and Maths

  • I have a class one evening a week that is about generally unpacking our experiences in Mathematics, and I’ve made a lot of friends in that class, too. This week, we spoke about loaded assumptions people have about the field. It’s nice to have a space to speak openly about that stuff. The question this week was about where we saw or used Maths this week and the range of answers was super interesting. I’m actively working with it theoretically, but there were persons who use it for art, arithmetic, and even linguistics. So that was really awesome.
  • I bought a book on these loaded assumptions. It had really bad ratings by what I noticed to be an extremely skewed distribution (is the best way I can describe it), but it resonated almost instantly with me because the person spoke about how they enjoyed Mathematics so much as a child, and came to Cambridge and experienced a sudden lot of hostility, as though at that level it was inferred that they didn’t belong there. And I need to unpack a lot of that because I’ve experienced it as well in my own institution, which is horrendous considering you know, my discipline uses it lol. Fortunately, I was able to have the maturity to realize that it was just gatekeeping and insecurity on the part of the professor, but that stuff disturbs me because if I weren’t myself, it could be the turning point for me to leave completely, and that’s crappy. And for those who might say “well, maybe there is a reason the professor acted the way they did”, I’d like to say that it’s highly unlikely. I hadn’t completed a single lesson within the class, but was met from day one with smug condescension. So I dropped the class after the first day.

In other news

  • I received good news about my internship, but I will elaborate at a later time because I have so much to think about, and I’ve already started juggling recruiter emails again, as I have pushed everything until at least August. And part of the elaboration is my thinking out loud about my career and what I’d like to invest in. So I’m still thinking about it. Growth mindset and all that (I don’t know why that phrase always reminds me of turnips).
  • Some people nominated me for some things I’m working on this week, I attended the Code2040 Alumni Brunch (that was a blast), went to a CTF and solved my team’s first puzzle (this has been the case for most of the teams I’ve joined strangely, but I disdain leetcode. I’m beginning to think I just love puzzles).
  • I started week 1 of a book club focused on Statistics using R (once a week)
  • I hung out with my Cryptography prof and had a great time, and it has built me up a lot. Part of it is just having that sort of postive role model, like someone holding your hand and nudging you along. And that’s been really great for me. I really feel like these are my people, and that I can remain in this community for a long time. It seems to combine everything I’m interested in, strangely.
  • That space can be everything from the human aspect, to machine learning and data, to language, to formal verification and yes, there are people who write Haskell in that space, too! So far, I really like the theoretical stuff, combined with a little bit of the systems prototyping stuff, but we’ll see how it goes.
  • I joined an algorithm group that meets for an hour on Sundays (for black engineers, to study the thing I hate studying that I mentioned in lieu of puzzles. I don’t know why I always imagine when someone sends me HR or leetcode that I’m a court jester doing tricks to the amusement of that entity).
  • I got into a recruiting event and completed another, which still has a research day next week (where people from the company will present posters)

Wrap up

  • Next week, I’m wrapping up RLOS, so I’m finishing up code right now, and will spend my weekend working on my final presentation. It’s really been a journey, and it was nice to really get to meet everyone! I wish they would give us vowpalwabbit tshirts. Such a cute logo and animal :) Or even a laptop sticker!
  • I have to sync up with my co-conspirator for our ICLR duties, which will definitely be publicly announced, I believe next week. So there’s that.
  • I’m also wrapping up my internship stuff, which is great, because I’d love to have a bit of my summer before school begins again. Every summer I’ve gone through a ritual starting tabula rasa once I’ve shipped my laptop back. I’m looking forward to that, too. I think I’m going to sleep once that’s done for a couple days.

All in all

  • It’s been a really fun this week this far, and incredible, particularly with respect to the bootcamp and cryptography community.
  • I’m not tired, but I really haven’t been sleeping many hours. So you know what that means? All my clothes are clean! (see my previous post about my washer and dryer).
  • Next week is Black Hat, and I can’t wait. That should be pretty fun, although, as you can tell, I have some major things to complete next week, also. So we’ll see how that goes. Someone has already reached out to me for that, but I’m looking at three major deadlines and about three talks next week, two of which have demos. Yikes.

Anyways, that’s all I have for now

  • Oh yeah, I got my amazing wireless headphones!! Thank you so so much Dataiku! <3


  • Check out the photo and projects here

And that’s it

Written on July 29, 2021