Vincent A. '17
Apr 27 2017
Posted in: Life & Culture
Just across the street from Random Hall, less than two minutes away, is Beantown Taqueria, a cozy Mexican Restaurant with delightfully spicy tacos and a reliably lively crowd at 2 A.M. on the weekends. It’s a place so readily frequented by my floor that we have a stash of Beantown coupons attached to one of our refrigerators and an entire system for tracking transaction flow whenever someone covers another in regular mass Beantown outings.
So you can imagine how big a deal it was for us when the restaurant recently introduced a new kind of delicacy--the memelord burrito--which is indeed, as heavenly as it sounds.
It was introduced to Beantown by Lilly Chin, an MIT senior. Earlier this year, she won the Jeopardy College Championship, alongside a whopping $100,000, and rolled into internet fame with her final Jeopardy answer. At this point in the game, she'd been guaranteed to win no matter what, and subsequently decided to grace us with a noteworthy memeable moment,... read the post »
Feb 5 2017
Posted in: Miscellaneous
Every day, we began in the same place. The bathroom, where we reluctantly washed off the vestiges of sleep at 5 A.M., and prepared for the day. We had bathrooms on every floor of the dorm building, and they all looked the same. Long, white corridors—white tiles, white ceilings, white walls, white fluorescent lights—facing six bathroom stalls. The first six people to wake up filled the stalls, and from them, a queue emerged. We went to the bathroom on our floor, found the guy at the end of the shortest queue, and mumbled to him, “After you”, a way of securing our spot. When it was our turn, we hopped into the stall, emerging about five minutes later (take any longer, and we would pound the door, threatening to drag you out naked). Unlike most other boarding schools in the country, the system of stalls meant we thankfully (mostly) never saw each other naked.
Invariably, each morning, we went from the bathrooms to the dining hall.
It was a single large hall on the top floor... read the post »
Jan 30 2017
Some lessons, we learn by virtue of way of life. They’re the kind of lessons that unfold not from pulpits or pedestals, but emerge from the simplicity of daily routine, implicit enough to be anything but noteworthy.
Grades seven to twelve of my education in Nigeria were spent in a boarding school in the country’s capital. Mirroring Nigeria’s religious demographic, we were roughly equal proportions Christian and Muslim. Each day, the Muslim students and staff would gather under the roof of a building opposite our hostels and classes for prayer. And each Sunday, the Christian students would turn one of the classrooms into a makeshift church, often headed by our religious studies teacher.
For these six years in a cozy but fenced-off location, our lives were defined by boarding school routine. Early morning wakeups led to grumbling sounds and shuffling feet; a reluctant shower was followed by breakfast (the opinion of the quality of our dining hall varied, depending on who you asked... read the post »
Jan 22 2017
Posted in: Academics & Research
A cornerstone of 6.046, MIT’s infamous algorithms class, is navigating around a variety of limitations (algorithm runtime, computer memory, accuracy) and understanding the compromises settled for in attaining this workaround. As a simple example, if I gave you a very long list of numbers (2,3,9,15,...) and told you to find their sum, you might store all the numbers in memory and then add them up. But if available memory was limited, so that you could see the stream of numbers you needed to sum up one at a time, but couldn’t possibly store them all, you would need a different tactic. In fact, you’d only need to keep track of one thing, the running sum, which you update with each additional number you see from the stream. With a list of numbers like 2,3,9,15…, the running sum starts out at 0. You see 2, so you update the running sum to 2. Then you see 3, so you update the running sum to 2 + 3 = 5. Then you see 9, so you update the running sum to 5 + 9 = 14, and so on. In this way, you... read the post »
Jan 22 2017
Posted in: Academics & Research
6.046, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, is one of the most challenging classes I’ve ever taken. It’s a natural followup to MIT’s Introduction to Algorithms class, and dives into the heart of designing and understanding often complicated solutions to important computational problems, especially in the context of limited resources. Limited memory, limited processing power, limited running time, limited accuracy.
As a simple example, which we'll come back to in a followup piece, suppose I gave you a list of numbers in some random order (say 3, 19, 2, 17, 14, 4) and I wanted you to sort it (so you would return 2, 3, 4, 14, 17,19), your ability to do this would depend on being able to directly compare 2 numbers and say things like “2 is smaller than 3” or “2 is smaller than 4”. What if your 2-number comparator was broken? What if you were saddled with a mental comparator that says “X is smaller than Y” and is accurate only 80% of the time? 6.046 is the kind of class that teaches you... read the post »