I have just graduated from university, and I’m about to start my new job next week. This week I have been focusing on getting settled in my new apartment in downtown Toronto, where I will live with Kate. Here are a few pics. There’s more coming soon, once we get all the boxes put away.
Roast beef sandwich, corn, and Mexican salad
I have a feeling that awesome food is going to be a big part of living here. There is a Sobey’s grocery store across the street, so it’s really quick and easy to get ingredients on a whim.
Kate chopping a yellow pepper
Our bedroom has a large window that faces west, which gives us a great view of the sun setting each day.
Jeff standing in front of the bedroom window, with the sun setting in the background.
The most recent Google AI Challenge had the contestants writing a bot that could play the game of Tron. Participants could periodically submit their latest code to watch it play against bots created by other people from around the world. After all was said and done, we received almost 20,000 submissions from over 1000 people, written in 14 different programming languages.
Lately, a few people have asked me which programming languages ended up being the most popular. Here is the breakdown.
These statistics have been really helpful in planning the upcoming Google AI Challenge, which is based on the game of Galcon. As of right now, we have support for the four most popular programming languages: C++, Java, Python, and C#. We are working on adding support for the next four most popular languages: Haskell, Ruby, Common Lisp, and Perl.
If you would like to help out by translating one of the starter packages into your favorite language, then shoot me an email or post on the contest forums. You will be a hero to many.
Text editors are a topic of much contention amonst programmers. Sometimes it can get pretty emotional. I’ve heard that debates over the merits of competing text editors have at times come to blows.
Today I decided to resolve this age-old question once and for all. Which is better: emacs or vi? I sent a simple poll out on Reddit, and received 279 responses. Below I have summarized the results in chart form.
Vi users outvoted emacs users two-to-one. Sorry emacs, but charts don’t lie. Looks like vi is the superior text editor.
In the last day or so, I have started seriously working on the next AI Challenge, which I hope to launch in early May. The first step is to choose a game to use for the contest. This morning I came up with a short list of decent two-player strategy games, and created a Google Form to allow people to vote for their favorites. After posting the form on Reddit, I managed to get almost 600 votes in a fairly short period of time. Here are the results.
Clearly, Chess is a terrible idea. Aside from that, all the other games are completely tied. Go seems to be slightly ahead, but that could just be a fluke. Overall, these results don’t seem to be very helpful. How should I decide which game to pick?
How long would it take to watch all the porn in the world? Is it even possible? This is what my friends and I were wondering the other day at the pub. Being a bunch of math students, we whipped out a pocket calculator to find out. Here’s what we came up with.
To produce a really conservative estimate, let’s restrict ourselves only to amateur sex tapes produced by couples in the United States. How many are there? How long would it take to watch them all if it was your full-time job? There are currently 307 million people in the United States. Suppose that two-thirds of people will at some point be part of a couple. That’s 102 million couples. Suppose that only 5% of these couples will ever produce a sex tape. That’s 5 million sex tapes produced by people who are currently living in the US. Given that the average life expectancy is 78 years, we can err on the safe side by assuming that about 1.3% of those sex tapes will be made this year. Add that all up, and we can safely assume that 65,598 sex tapes will be made in the US this year.
By taking a straw poll, we guessed that the average sex tape would be 10 minutes long after editing, but let’s call it 5 just to be sure. Therefore 327,991 minutes of sex tape will be produced this year. If you unrolled that much VHS tape, it would stretch between Toronto and Montreal. If you put all that porn onto DVDs, it would make a stack 13 stories high. So, is it feasible to watch that much porn?
If watching porn was your full-time job (40 hours per week, all year round, no holidays), you would only be able to watch 38% of the amateur sex tapes made this year in the United States alone. The more you watch, the further behind you fall. I conclude based on this analysis that it is absolutely impossible to watch all the porn in the world.
357686312646216567629137 is a very special prime number. Why is it so special, you ask? Because all of its suffixes are also prime numbers.
Isn’t that cool? 7, 37, 137, 9137, and so on are all prime numbers!
I call these sorts of prime numbers suffix primes. Their existence was pointed out to me by a friend in a Facebook comment. There are exactly 4260 suffix primes that do not contain zeros, and the above number is the largest. But what if we count the suffix primes that do contain zeros? How many are there? Are there perhaps infinitely many? What about prefix primes?
I just finished running a large programming contest called the Google AI Challenge. By popular request, I am posting a complete log of all the games that were played in order to determine the final rankings.
When I set out to design this year’s Google AI Challenge, one of my priorities was the make the contest as addictive as possible. I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. All I had to do was borrow a few tricks from the Big Tobacco marketing playbook.
Get them hooked early. In order to deliver the first fix as quickly as possible, I posted a five-minute quickstart guide with instructions on how to get your name onto the global leaderboard in less than five minutes. I posted some simple working entries on the website which could be directly re-submitted without any modifications. Cigarette companies use Joe Camel to advertise to children, drug dealers offer free doses to lure first-time users, and the contest has Starter Packages.
Instant gratification. In last year’s Google AI Challenge, people would have to wait between one and two hours to see their latest submission’s ranking. This means that if it’s 3:00 AM and you just submitted your code, there is a fairly large incentive to go to bed. This is clearly unacceptable. This year, participants were able to see their new ranking within at most five minutes. By shortening the feedback loop to almost nothing, we set up a situation that is very similar to a gambling addict at a blackjack table. Just one more hand…
Lace it with addictive chemicals. Despite much effort, I was not able to figure out how to lace the contest with addictive chemicals. That being said, I am fairly sure that time spent working on the contest is highly correlated with intake of caffeine and MSG.
Cigarette companies use Joe Camel to advertise to children, drug dealers offer free doses to lure first-time users, and the contest has Starter Packages.
After all was said and done, I believe that my efforts paid off. Here are a few quotes from contestants, taken the day after the submission deadline:
“I’m glad the deadline wasn’t extended, i was sleeping better last night than the previous dozens of night. i was constantly working on it, that is finally over ”
“actually I dreaded the deadline getting extended. I am really happy it’s over. my obsessive-compulsive behaviour would have continued for some time”
“I am glad that this is finally finished too, or wife is going to get grumpy. (unrecognizable yelling at the background)”
Most people can imagine the joy that comes from watching the odometer of an old truck roll over.
It's like your 50th wedding anniversary, except better.
In the last couple days, I’ve been approaching a milestone of my own. The traffic for the Google AI Challenge website has been approaching our initial dream goal of 1,000,000 pageviews. This morning I got out of bed and immediately checked it, what with my being a Google Analytics addict. Here is how I found it:
Couldn’t have cut it any closer than that. Looks like today is going to be the big day.