Blogging @ScientistsAndStorytellers

Few articles are at coz laziness. Guess which ones are mine.


How to study from a PDF

Most of my textbooks are in pdf form. Google has thrown up nothing to help me study from them. Hence, this article. I aim to find a workable method to study from pdfs of textbooks.

I have found a noticeable difference between studying from a physical copy of the textbook versus a pdf. In the physical copy, I get to leaf through the pages, look at the subtitles and then flip back and forth to get a picture of the chapter as I read the subsections.

In a pdf, this is considerably tedious because I have to remember the page number of the start page of the chapter, unless some blessed pdf has a full-formatted contents sidepane. But even then, the sidepane doesnt really help because I have to parse the keywords I underlined or see again and again.

  1. To combat that in pdf form, I think I will start by writing out the contents of the chapter, the subsection titles in my notebook. Slightly computationally intensive but let’s see whether it pays off in the long run. TBD1.

Another significant problem right now is that my pdf cannot be highlighted. I have tried various pdf software and short of opening the whole textbook in Inkscape page-by-page, I have tried everything to get the highlighter to work. The file seems to have spotlight syndrome.

2. Next step, parse the text in manner similar to textbook reading. Figure out how the chapter is structured.

Whatever I understand in the first reading, I note down. I doodle or write the keywords only. Try very hard not to write down the sentences as they are printed. If I don’t understand, i leave that for the second pass.

The hardest part is trying to get over the highlighter issue. Some facts need to be highlighted in the textbook itself because they make sense when you have the whole picture. I’ll write them in a different colour in my notes. This is direct conflict with the dictum “thou shall not copy entire sentences” but we shall see if it harms or helps. TBD2.

3. To-do list of sections I skipped.

Pass 1 complete.



Babies In Restaurants

/*Wrote a poem about Fourier Series. Don’t ask me why.*/

You walk into a restaurant just off the road
You order a hot coffee as you’re shaking off the cold
And as the gentle vapours ascend, events unfold
At the table next to you a baby explodes.

There is nothing obviously wrong with it
Except maybe nappy rashes and colic
And thus without permit
it let’s a loud cry transmit.

You can see it like those slo-mo shots in movies
The face scrunches up, pinched like a dirty tissue paper
a deep breathe, concentrated force building up in the throat
which hurls the fundamental frequency up into chubby food-filled mouth
this mouth, gaping wide, ready to launch spittle-flavoured harmonic notes.

This mathematical formulation
That pours so eloquently from infant lamentation
Has roots in musical intonation
And helps explain quantum mechanics, image processing and vibration.

After the initial wail, there is some minor attempt at pacification
Loud parental laughing at obvious social indiscretion
The occassional chew toy shoved down buccal perforation
Or to use an important policy in conflict resolution
To pay no attention!

But you can see it on it’s face, a careful calculation being made
For X amount of concussive force, generate a cry of pitch f and volume V
And by mouthing obscenities add harmonics at integral multiples
Add all these sines and cosines over infinity to get the Fourier Series!

The sines and cosines merge into one incoherent expression of deep anguish!
A comprehensive articulation of dislike for all mankind!
An eloquent ode to the comfort and pleasure of everyone’s dining experience!
A powerful meditation on the bourgeois concept of sitting down in a chair!

But see it’s not just the original wail that counts
But regenerating that long continuous cry
Calculating each component’s frequency
And every amplitude, low and high.

They calculate the exact coefficients for all sines and cosines
the exact amplitudes for every frequency, human and canine
Then adding them all up to chill your spine.

They sit on the table and smile at you
make loud gurgling blood-curling noises!
to understand such a function or such depth of emotion
one would surely need to transform to a different dimension
One would require a frequency distribution
of the waves of this inarticulate expression
simply to understand the key emotions
That come from this aperiodic effusion

Sometimes I wonder
At the great design of the universe
How the light from the stars and the movement of tides
How DNA sequencing, mp3, jpeg and MRIs
all have the same waves as a baby’s cries!

So for the sake of harmony and a quiet cup of tea
I entreat you to leave your babies with the nanny.

Deciding Between Multiple Acceptances

Bar this article, which scratched my urge to quantify, I found the online resources to be deficient in deciding between universities. Thus, paranoia hyperdrive. Did I miss anything?


Make master document in Google Sheets, Airtable or good ol’ Excel. Apply links over infected areas.

    1. Public/Private?
    2. Vibes,culture
    1. Qualifying exam, y/n?
    2. Coursework requirements per year
    3. No. of courses per sem
    4. Graduate level theory courses
    5. Interdepartment courses
    6. Tuition for extra courses covered in stipend?
    1. h-index
    2. asst/associate
    3. funding
    4. reputation
    5. project guidance
    6. placement
    7. conferences/symposiums
    1. stipend
    2. how much saved after living expenses
    3. hours
    4. work? Lab or lectures?
    5. summer months
    6. health insurance $
  7. Extracurriculars
    1. on-campus clubs?
    1. Departure time, airport
    2. Airline – Baggage allowed
    3. Stopovers – Claim baggage and process it again?
    4. Stopover time
    5. Total journey time
    6. Arrival time
    7. Pickup arrangements
    1. Cost
    2. Area
    3. Cost vs. Area comparison
    4. Locality
    5. Distance from college
    6. Utilities included?
    7. Furnished?
    8. Bus routes

Studying Machine Learning in QM while watching Step Up 2

Quantum chemistry has officially started and in keeping with tradition, here’s another studying…while. Been off the map for a while because I was actually studying. The real studying. Properly. Where one sits down for a solid 8 and undereffingstands everything. That worked for a while, I remember some of the things I did, physical chemistry mostly. Organic is a damn mess. So starting with this new independent project on machine learning in quantum mechanics in hopes that I learn some awesomesaucestuff.

As is another tradition, I procrastinated plenty. Somehow I started wondering about a paper I had read a million years ago on the Physics of the Shannon Limit. I have made no bones about my feelings on certain signal coding aspects of my undergrad education. But when someone is kind enough to translate it into understandable thermodynamics equations, it makes me go all fuzzy inside. And they put it up on arxiv. Extra points. Alright. Information theory, and it’s log-sum inequalitysauce can be attributed to the second law of thermo! Effingcool.

But yesss, we do learn machines today. No, that’s not right. We make machines learn today! Hells yea!

You’re right Rexy, so right.There is a theory that a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Brachiosaurus got together in the middle of the night, set aside bloodthirsty differences and decided to tackle a most serious problem common to both, the Velociraptor Phenomenon. Allegedly, these two plotted for the downfall of that particular obnoxious breed of raptors that flitted about like murderous fairies across the prairie landscapes. The plan was to popularize the T-Rex using internet memes for which they needed an extensively pervasive and time-unbound wave function that would be discovered by their ancestors a million years down the line who would then be prompted to activate certain protocols targeting the weaknesses of the dominant species to eliminate the bloodymenace that was the Velociraptor. This experiment was a success and we now have machine learning.

The only notable downside to the operation was that the Stegosaurus genera got overlooked. They never reached their intended popularity which T-Rex to this day, considers a great disservice to that kited Kimmeridgianian. T-Rex regrets but T-Rex introduced kernel ridge regression as a tribute to the lost stardom of Steggy.

With that preface, Andie’s first day at MSA! I feels for you, ML kicking my ass too.

(12 days later)

Bullet Journal says I can’t do ML right now. Yes, master. ML fo lates.


Honest Replies

Emailing grad profs is a pain but receiving replies call for shameless dancing. But replying to those replies, especially the dreaded WHY questions, can be nerve-wracking.

One such prof, one such reply.

Prof : Why do you want to study AwesomesaucElectronWavefunctionThingies

Respected Prof. AwesomestProf,

I am interested in AwesomesaucElectronWavefunctionThingies because of a AwesomesaucElectronWavefunctionThingies professor in my first year. He took a series of lectures that were aimed at teaching us about AwesomesaucElectronWavefunctionThingies information, AwesomesaucElectronWavefunctionThingies computation and AwesomesaucElectronWavefunctionThingies communication, which, as future engine-movers, we could possibly work in. His plan was to catch us early, before we were jaded by engine-mover education. (Engine-mover education can be sufficiently summarized by the following motto “Wear the crankshaft, be the crankshaft, you ARE the crankshaft!”)

Suffice to say, he did his job well and we all thank him for our ridiculous research dreams. We also have to thank him for our parents thinking we’ll be washing beakers for the rest of our lives so they had better have their retirement funds in order. (but they should do that anyway).

To that end, I presented a paper about the incidence of 90s pop music in eigenfunctions of Rasna molecules. Since then I’ve been interested in all things quantum. Also, Insects. In 2012, IBM made the news with their 12-atom magnetic memory (which got me really excited for two minutes about replacing my old PC with 12 iron atoms) and the article I read mentioned how the researchers had hit the classical data storage limit (and then I’m like pshaw, classical memory, what a sham!). This made me think about ElectronWaveFunction Crankshafting and that seemed, at the time, a great field to work in. Little did I know how little I knew.

Featured image

My project in “Virulents Strains of Crankshaft Oil” also made me realize that we need better materials to build better crankshafts, mainly oilier oils with more control over their properties. This thought process progressed to metamaterials/supersubstrates and how to control their properties to give the right amount of slick which led me excited state processes in goat oil brought about by UV light which led me to light-matter interactions and suddenly I was in the middle of the dark forest without a wand, a map or a Hippogriff.

After this ordeal, I found religion. I mean, condensed AwesomesauceElectronWavefunctionThingummies. So there I was, in the middle of nowhere when I send a paisley coloured cover letter to Dr. DG, saying how awesome it would be to work in something like AEWT and Magic and the Hogwarts cellars. Benevolent and wise, she guided me towards the light. Towards light-matter interactions, electronic structure theory and all that is holy.

As a child model, I was always interested in modelling but I never knew in what form it would come back in my life. I was soon knee-deep in computational chemistry, understanding matrices truly for the first time in my life, understanding why we need robust code to understand the energy states in biochromophores which can help us manipulate said energy states to build better substrates for all electronics which would then be a million times faster than before and so we would revolutionize technology one more time and start calling practical workers of technology ‘quantum techies’ instead of ‘engine-movers’ who would go on to create a quantum computing era which would help us to compute the excited energy states of biochromophores.

So here I am! Theoretical chemist in the making, violent coder, caffeinist. (yea, that should totally be my Twitter bio).

I have always been passionate about AEWT and, to that effect, I have conducted a few paper presentations that were on the interface between crankshafts and AEWT. These included some heavy pieces on how DNA on our FETs can make for healthy nutrituous electronics and on how inhaling drugs gives you a stronger kick….but they knew that already.

When I started seriously considering AEWT as a career, I thought “Hell!I cannot be more of disappointment to birthgivers so might as well go all out and embarrass them too!

Distant relative : So what does your daughter do?

Birthgivers : She plays around with whores and tries to find out how they get excited.

Distant relative : I have the perfect guy for her!!

In attempting to find common ground and resolve my bipolar career, I found that computers are easier to fiddle with. Thus, I found a place that allowed me to be all the people I wanted to be in one big ginormous package of hefty student loans. I understand that passion isn’t enough and you really need to know what you’re doing to succeed but I am confident that I am a screw-up and as we all know, up-spin down-spin is just a fancy way of saying we don’t know codswallop so I think I’ll fit right in.