Six Years

Six years ago was June of 2007.
Now is June of 2013.

Six years ago, I was twelve.
Now, I am eighteen.

Six years ago, I did not know I. Grabski, A. Lin, L. Chen, J. Yuan, S. Johnson, D. Philipson, S. Rubinstein-Salzedo, B. Chen, B. Ray Avalani, S. Ye, or D. Rowlands.
Almost everyone that I have been glad to be acquainted with I first got to know in the last six years, most I have heard of significantly before I met them in real life, and some I haven’t even met in real life yet.

Six years ago, I have been to eight states of the USA.
Now, I have been to fourteen.

Six years ago, I have been to three countries.
Now, I…have still only been to three countries.

Six years ago, I haven’t yet watched Lord of the Rings.
I first watched Lord of the Rings in May 2012. I loved it.

Six years ago, I haven’t read a single Harry Potter book or watched a single Harry Potter movie.
In Spring 2010, I watched part of a Harry Potter movie. I still haven’t read any Harry Potter books.

Six years ago, I could name all the elements of the periodic table.
Now I can’t, because I didn’t bother to learn all the names of the newly named ones. Whoops.

Six years ago, I could name all sovereign countries and their capitals of the world.
Now I still can, but I also know their flags.

Six years ago, I could name 45 moons in the Solar System.
Now I can name 120.

Six years ago, I couldn’t name 10 Pokémon.
Now I can name 100. Uh…I think I can. Wait, can I? Well, definitely much more than 10, at least.

Six years ago, I didn’t know who Sonic the Hedgehog was.
I’m not kidding.

Six years ago, I was nearing the end of chess being in my life. I have not yet started destroying my chess trophies at the time, though.
Over the span of time from November 2011 to June 2012, I have demolished all chess trophies I have won after 2003. I am still today proud that I am no longer a chessplayer.

Six years ago, I didn’t know what the National Ocean Sciences Bowl was.
I was in the fourth place national team for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in April 2009.

Six years ago, I couldn’t score 20 on the AMC8.
On the 2010 AMC10B, I scored 144. On the 2011 AMC12B, I scored 121.5.

Six years ago, I was not on Facebook.
I first joined Facebook in January 2010. My first account that I used for more than a year was made in October 2010.

Six years ago, I haven’t had a GMail account that I used for more than a month.
I first decided to take a persistent stab at my father’s forbidding me to use GMail in January 2010.

Six years ago, I didn’t know what Art of Problem Solving was.
I first joined Art of Problem Solving in October 2008. I have now made over 5000 posts on Art of Problem Solving, and I have hosted over 20 forum games, which over 150 users have participated in.

Six years ago, I didn’t know what Sporcle was.
I joined Sporcle in December 2010. My quizzes have over 8000 plays.

Six years ago, I didn’t know what Kongregate was.
I joined Kongregate in March 2012. I now have over 9000 Kongregate points.

Six years ago, I didn’t know what WordPress was.
I joined WordPress in August 2011. My blogs, in total, have over 35000 views from over 90 countries, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, French Polynesia, Isle of Man, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Six years ago, I knew no programming languages.
In the autumn of 2007, I learned TI-BASIC, but the first legitimate programming language I learned was Python, which I started learning in May 2012.

Six years ago, I haven’t yet been to a piano competition.
My first piano competition was in February 2008, in which I won first in the state.

Six years ago, I only listened to classical music.
Rhapsody of Fire’s “Black Dragon” was the first power metal song I listened to, in early 2010. I still love power metal. Classical and power metal music will probably resonate through my blood for a very long time.

Six years ago, I was a hurricane freak.
I still am, but not as much.

Six years ago, I was atheist.
Now, I am agnostic.

Six years ago, I was the only one among my friends that believed gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry.
Now, people who don’t believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry are rarely my friends.

Six years ago, I strongly believed that capital punishment should be legal.
In the past six years, my opinion on capital punishment has switched sides far more times than on any other political issue, and I’m now practically neutral.

Six years ago, I was an annoying brat.
Now, I wonder what I would think of myself six years from now, but I know I’m not the  ridiculous person I was when I was twelve.

Six years ago, I was in a junior high school I slightly liked.
I later went a high school I completely disliked. I now go to a college I love with all my heart.

Six years ago, I searched to find x.
Now, I search to find.

Toilet Paper Folding Algorithms

If I recall correctly, I read somewhere that the average American uses 7 sheets of toilet paper per toilet visit. I tend to lean on the cleanliness-obsessive side, so I usually use 16-20 sheets per visit. Yeah, I know, in this aspect I’m more wasteful than the average American, which would be pretty shameful, except that I’m sure that the many of you who have seen the alarming variety of material I have used as scratch paper can hopefully give me credit for making up for toilet paper overuse in scratch paper conservation.

Anyway, most rolls of toilet paper I have seen have pre-divided segments, partially perforated, such that each piece is roughly square and one can fold and tear the paper easily and neatly. This is the type I have seen in most homes, as well as in New House. In public facilities, however, one can frequently find the lesser-quality toilet paper (frequently of the Kimberly-Clark brand) that is noticeably narrower and also doesn’t have pre-perforated pre-designated sheets. MacGregor happens to also have Kimberly-Clark paper, so I’ve started to have to use such paper regularly. This type of toilet paper has given me qualms, since it’s significantly harder to be neat with this paper than with the pre-perforated kind, especially with end-rips. What’s more, when I fold the paper, I have to guess how much to fold it by, which often ends up producing an awkward stub of paper not long enough for another fold around that I’ll have to tuck in next to the previous fold.

I eventually found a solution to the issue of non-integral length in sheets by just ripping out a large portion, folding it in half, then in half again, and again, until it is the closest rectangle it could be to a square. I started using this approach to folding such free-form toilet paper. After a while, though, I realized that it is also a good idea to fold pre-perforated toilet paper in this fashion. Specifically, a less total number of folds is needed in the pre-set paper length case, because most folds fold at multiple locations along the strip of paper. Algorithmically, sequential toilet paper folding occurs in O(n) folds, whereas binary toilet paper folding occurs in O(lg n) folds. Dealing with a more imperfect type of toilet paper caused me to realize a universal improvement to toilet paper folding efficiency. This is just another example of the importance of perspective-enhancing alternatives.

MIT Puzzle: Solution

The Puzzle

Each photograph is not only a photograph of an MIT building or MIT buildings, but is also taken from inside an MIT building. This is hinted by by the fact that all the photographs aren’t direct pictures of buildings, and have a bunch of trees and other intermediate objects in the way. Using memory or a map, one can deduce the buildings the photographs were taken from as 18, 5, 6, 12, 5, 3, and W20. Since all numbers are less than 26, it is logical to drop the W and convert the numbers to letters, producing the word that is the answer to the puzzle: REFLECT.

Posted in MIT

Notable MIT Alumni by Birthday

1951 August 24: Lawrence S. Bacow, Course 14: President of Tufts University
1875 August 27: Katharine D. McCormick, Course 7: Biologist and suffragist
1936 September 03: John W. Olver, Course 5: Congressman for Massachusetts District 1
1930 September 17: Edgar Mitchell, Course 16: Apollo 14 astronaut
1904 October 03: Charles J. Pedersen, Course 5: Organic chemistry, winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1976 October 11: Salman Khan, Course 6: Founder of Khan Academy
1956 October 13: Colin Adams, Course 18: Mathematician, Math humorist
1933 October 18: Irwin M. Jacobs, Course 6: Founder of Qualcomm
1949 October 21: Benjamin Netanyahu, Course 4, Course 15: Prime Minister of Israel
1935 October 25: Russell L.  “Rusty” Schweickart, Course 16: Apollo 9 astronaut
1939 October 30: Leland H. Hartwell, Course 7: Biologist, President of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1929 November 02: Amar G. Bose, Course 6: Founder of Bose Corporation
1928 November 10: William A. Porter, Course 15: Founder of E*TRADE, “Forefather of Online Trading”
1931 November 11: Fortney “Pete” Stark, Jr., Course 9: Congressman for California District 13
1943 November 23: David F. Nolan, Course 17: Founder of the Libertarian Party
1954 November 30: Lawrence “Larry” Summers, Course 14: President of Harvard University
1943 December 01: Nicholas Negroponte, Course 4: Founder of MIT Media Lab, Founder of One Laptop per Child
1926 December 09: Henry Way Kendall, Course 8: Physicist, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics
1927 December 12: Robert Noyce, Course 8: Inventor of the microchip, Founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, Founder of Intel
1920 December 13: George P. Shultz, Course 14: US Secretary of the Treasury and US Secretary of State
1969 December 16: Adam G. Riess, Course 8: Astrophysicist, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics
1961 December 19: Eric Allin Cornell, Course 8: First successful preparer of a Bose-Einstein Condensate, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics
1929 December 21: Douglas T. Ross, Course 6: Founder of SofTech
1956 December 24: Steven T. “Steve” Kirsch, Course 6: Inventor of the optical mouse
1944 January 04: William R. Brody, Course 6: Radiologist, President of Johns Hopkins University
1952 January 13: Mohammad-Ali Najafi, Course 18: Vice-President of Iran
1930 January 20: Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., Course 16: Apollo 11 astronaut
1940 February 07: Tony Tan Keng Yam, Course OR: President of Singapore
1935 February 16: Bradford Parkinson, Course 16: Inventor of the GPS
1904 February 17: Luis A. Ferré, Course 2: Governor of Puerto Rico
1945 February 20: George F. Smoot III, Course 8, Course 18: Astrophysicist, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics
1953 February 28: Paul Krugman, Course 14: Economist, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics
1983 March 04: Drew Houston, Course 6: Founder of Dropbox
1935 March 09: Andrew J. Viterbi, Course 6: Inventor of the Viterbi Algorithm, Founder of Qualcomm
1967 March 14: Edward Michael Fincke, Course 12, Course 16: Astronaut, current record holder for American that spent the most time in space, 381.6 days
1931 March 22: Burton Richter, Course 8: Discoverer of the ψ meson, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physics
1951 March 26: Carl E. Wieman, Course 8: First successful preparer of a Bose-Einstein Condensate, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics
1946 April 07: Robert Metcalfe, Course 6, Course 15: Inventor of Ethernet
1938 April 08: Kofi A. Annan, Course 15: UN Secretary-General, winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize
1917 April 10: Robert Burns Woodward, Course 5: Student who successfully took 186 units in a semester at MIT, “Father of Organic Chemistry”, winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1917 April 26: Ieoh Ming “I. M.” Pei, Course 4: Architect, designer of the Louvre Pyramid
1959 April 27: Andrew Z. Fire, Course 7: Biologist, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1918 May 11: Richard P. Feynman, Course 8: Physicist, developer of Feynman diagrams, winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics
1970 May 14: Daniel M. Lewin, Course 6: Founder of Akamai
1913 May 20: William Redington Hewlett, Course 6: Founder of Hewlett-Packard
1875 May 23: Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Course 6: CEO of General Motors
1932 June 06: David Randolph Scott, Course 16: Apollo 9 astronaut, Apollo 15 astronaut
1900 August 06: Cecil Howard Green, Course 6: Founder of Texas Instruments