Movie and book reviews, occasional photos, and musings on life. A cursory glance into a mind full of chaos.

21st July 2014

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Tradeoffs and why you should try new things

Working on an infrastructure team, I hear about tradeoffs all the time. The art of tradeoff management (cost-benefit analysis, for the business-minded) constitutes the primary challenge of designing and implementing large-scale computer systems. Indeed, we even see this concept percolate the modern CS curriculum. Caching uses memory to avoid re-computation. No data structure is a panacea (despite the apotheosis of the hash table) as each makes its share of sacrifices for the conditional benefits afforded. The deeper I delve into the field, the clearer the importance of understanding tradeoffs appears.

This realization, as we all innately know, manifests in the non-computer world as well. Our decision-making process selects the course of action that minimizes pain and maximizes pleasure. At least, it should. Unfortunately (or perhaps not), this analysis is often hidden and sometimes absent altogether. In its stead, evolution has selected for the presence of various biases, which serve as simplifying heuristics. These biases are driven by several mechanisms, including belief fixation.

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Tagged: reflection

21st January 2014

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On Moral Education and Faith - MLK Speech

Dr. King provided many great services for America. He gave voice to a people who had long been silenced. He catalyzed a movement whose time had come. We’ve heard it all before and there’s no getting around it… Dr. King was a doer. He was a drum major of positive change.

But he wasn’t born this way.  By all accounts, he led a very normal childhood in the South — occasionally marred by racial segregation. He was mature for his age, excelling academically to graduate high school at the age of 15 and, despite being born into a line of Baptist pastors, wary of his religion’s claims for most of that time. In short, he was a precocious, intelligent, and skeptical teenager… sounds pretty familiar here at Carnegie Mellon.

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Tagged: MLKdaymoralityeducation

2nd January 2014

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Carpe Everything

I’ve been re-evaluating the way I’m spending my time; it’s something I want to better in 2014. It’s started to hit me that I’m entering my prime. The next 10 years constitute my mental and physical peak. This is the period in which I enjoy the most opportunities. I should be excited, but really, I’m anxious. It’s like being given $100,000,000 with the caveat that you lose $1,000,000 a day. Naturally you would want to spend it as soon as possible, but you also must allot time for determining the best use of that money. Is it worth spending $1,000,000 frivolously today when you can determine a better use for it tomorrow? These are akin to the tradeoffs we face in life — should we spend time planning or doing?

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Tagged: reflection

29th December 2013

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Resolve

I’m back.

After a year with a hell of a lot of change. A lot of change, but more ups than downs. That makes me happy. Many would be happy with much less.

Usually around this time I post a set of resolutions. This year, despite its net positive, has taught me not to be so optimistic.

Resolutions are externalities. They are by definition that which you are not. That which you aspire to be. For many, tangible resolutions (losing 10 lbs, getting a 4.0) work just fine — they are fantastic personal goals and the new year is an apt time to start working on them. But often, the intangible ones are the ones of consequence, and the ones with which we struggle the most. I’m talking about improving personal relationships, building confidence, staying positive and motivated. Where these creatures are concerned, continuous, conscious resolve is everything.

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Tagged: resolutionsresolve

30th May 2013

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Migrating

You may have noticed the influx of my verbose posts on your dashboard. No, I haven’t yet degraded to blogging every moment of my day — I’m just migrating posts from my more clandestine other Tumblr to this one. I’m doing this to divide my two blogs by privacy; this one, vijayiyengar.tumblr.com, will contain my opinions, book/movie reviews, and some reflective posts.My other one is more of a personal journal.

In case you haven’t read some of these recently migrated posts, I urge you to check them out. If you agree with my opinions, awesome! If not, I’d be glad to hear some feedback. 

Tagged: update