Hi, I'm Victor. I'll try to leave my door open when I'm not too busy.
I think I will drop unfiltered thoughts on life and such here. I have a slightly less unfiltered MIT webpage here with some standard info (including classes at the bottom, with some commentary).
Idle thoughts from Fall 2016
- People sometimes ask what's new about me. This year I've changed about as much as the St. Louis Rams. In fact, I wore a St. Louis Rams shirt to my final paper presentation in 18.726 last semester, and the first thing the prof did when I walked in his office was comment on said shirt.
- When I was a freshman I thought I wanted to be a Putnam Fellow, but then I decided, "meh, I'll let the freshmen do it". I'm too old for this now.
- Someone from Missouri once tried to create South Butt jackets but got sued by North Face (I think). This person also applied for some position at my dad's WUSTL lab and asked my dad "why [he] should consider joining the lab". Negotiation skills!
- The most notable things about Missouri are that it contains area code 314 (St. Louis), the centroid of the US (by some reasonable definition), an arch (Gateway to the West), St. Louis Bread Co., and that it once predicted presidential elections extremely well.
- After eating at Kimcheese, I went to watch Rogue One at AMC 12 Creve Coeur with some old friends in STL. I used 2 green passes, and 30 minutes later left with 3 re-admit passes, because the power went out. Later that day, the power went out at home.
- Social stuffs (might add more later). But I think it would be healthy for me to improve both generally and when talking to people with fairly close interests (e.g. currently math, education, and occasionally real life (!), although the names of these topics probably don't connote much about why or how I think/care about them).
- Education/Expii, openness, story/context, empathy, crowd-sourcing: I like motivating things (so far mostly in math), probably because I enjoy stories (who doesn't?). This philosophy (closely tied with empathy), probably more than anything else, drives all the teaching (and learning, both on purpose and accidentally from teaching!) I've ever done at any level (from Expii to school math club to AoPS posts to MOP classes/interactions to random gchats/conversations with friends at MIT and elsewhere).
- Maths, blogging, MO/MSE/MESE/AoPS (might add more later): I have some notes on my MIT webpage. Also 18.112 (Complex analysis and Google Docs ramblings), from a bit of self-study.
- The general philosophy behind these notes: These are not live-texed. Overall I try to follow the key points/ideas throughout lecture and write down stuff depending not just on how important it is but also how likely I'll forget it. (If there's something I can't really follow during class then I'll write down enough details to be able to look back later, try to focus as much on buzzwords/big picture/context as possible, and hopefully figure things out later and add the appropriate level of compensating exposition in the notes.) If I don't think something is motivated well enough I'll spend some time trying to motivate it myself in the notes; presumably I won't always be able to do this and will need to go to office hours at some point. (And going to office hours to talk about things is probably good in general; for example there's this random problem I've been meaning to ask on MO/MSE that might be easily susceptible to Fourier analysis...)
- For 18.715/705/901 I will probably only add stuff on the big picture or intuition/story/motivation not covered well/specifically in the class texts (which you can access on the course websites via "co/18.xxx" at MIT, and "course.mit.edu/18.xxx" elsewhere.) A lot of my notes are also in Google Docs, which I planned to (but will probably not) integrate into more usable format later on (for instance lots of my 18.112 ramblings).
- Speaking of the big picture and compression, I might try to make a concept/mind/road map for some of these things at some point, in the same vein as what I've done so far for Expii.
- Almost everything else I've written in a desktop folder friendly format (basically anything electronic and not on a forum like AoPS) can be found in the Dropbox link here.
- Music: ~year-long (and counting) hiatus from piano, quit violin in high school, 21M.301 (Fall 2014). (might add more later)
- Exercise/sports: tennis, badminton (took some gym classes), running, lifting. (might add more later)
- Cooking: laziness. (might add more later)
- I think life, at least in the long run, is funny because once AI inevitably takes over the universe, even if all the friendly AI initiatives succeed, AI will in principle outpace humanity in every possible interesting aspect. (Cf. humans vs. other animals: but do the lesser beasts consciously realize their lack of souls and opposable thumbs, as we would recognize our inferiority to AI?) Someone once suggested to me that humanities will still remain (even though everything else is doomed), perhaps almost by definition, but I think this could only possibly hold in the sense of the AI not actually "caring" about humanities (rather than "being worse at" humanities).
- Somehow the previous point, despite being extremely boring and stupid, is actually enlightening to me, because it says somehow, at least from the selfish/self-important human lens, that constant terms matter, not just higher-order terms (contrary to typical math philosophizing...). For example, I think a lot of people talk about how helping a few gifted students maximize their potential much outweighs the potential benefit of helping many "normal" students, but... (Francis Su explains this, and much else on the topic of teaching, much better.) More broadly, I think there's very little reason to take life (esp. stuff like overly-critical/non-obvious suggestions---it's so easy to "fake-justify" almost anything) seriously, except in improving the world to the point where everyone else can take life unseriously too...
- Creativity, imagination, dreams, visions, inspiration, passion, hard work, but not at the cost of happiness (might add more later)
- Openness, friendliness. Bureaucracy, unnecessarily unequal opportunities. (might add more later)
Sometimes I think good stories are the only inspiring things, both in math and real life. Here are some bad stories. Sorry that they are biased towards the math community.
- In April 2013 I was one of two seniors awarded the "Worst Senioritis" superlative. Neither of us showed up for the yearbook photo for the superlative.
- At Yellowstone in July 2014, I tried this (I don't remember where I saw it originally) on my sister. It worked. I think she's using this example for some science class assignment.
- In May 2014, I procrastinated on my final 24.900 essay long enough to miss the (volunteer-based) weekend-long USAMO 2014 grading at Le Meridien. The next day I ran into Po-Shen Loh (CMU) and his mathematical sibling Jacob Fox in the math building, and Po asked me why I missed grading. He's a fast talker so I didn't have to answer.
- In August 2014, I got my wisdom teeth removed. Apparently my bottom wisdom teeth (at least the right bottom one) had 3 root canals or something, while most have 2. Also I believe the doctor said "uh-oh" at some point; perhaps this is related to the <math>3 > 2</math> (hmm, I'm impressed the greater than sign doesn't screw tags up). Also laughing gas is weird, but apparently by constricting/clenching legs and fists it seems to be easier to keep control.
- Speaking of screwing tags up, at one point I found an issue in the HMMT problem database, and asked Travis: "Is there a way to use $<$ and $>$ (and other (html?) things I'm probably forgetting right now) without screwing things up half the time? I don't know if > and < are standard but I've used them elsewhere before (they don't work here)." The issue: "It turns out the problem was with '>' characters whose index in the string was a multiple of 3 (e.g., its the third character in "$a>b$"). It's fixed now, thanks for pointing it out!" "yeah... turns out 2012Travis didn't know what he was doing"
- At MOP 2013, James Tao presented a terribl(y contrived) synthetic geometry solution, leading me to coin the term "unnecessarily synthetic", which failed to win the superlative "most unnecessary".
- At MOP 2014, James Tao and everyone else presented terrible synthetic and non-synthetic solutions to every geometry problem, resulting in my deep depression as a frequent geometry problem grader. On the other hand, if you know me well enough, then you also know I thoroughly deserved to have to grade those terrible solutions, for what I did in high school...
- At MOP 2014, there were "team contests" (this is not too important) with several rounds of (number of team) problems, with the problems "claimed" one by one from a fixed problem set. The rounds generally have increasing score weights (corresponding in principle to increasing difficulty), say 5, 7, and finally 9. Of course, it's rather difficult to order teams "fairly"---a math problem the students seem to care more about than the team contest problems themselves. So I asked if anyone actually cared about the team contest. Unfortunately, a couple raised their hands, so I set the scores for the rounds to 0, 0, 0.
- (This was the first team contest. In the second, I instead set variable weights <math>A, B, C</math> at the beginning. This came in handy since at one point I didn't want to check whether a long computational solution worked, and just assigned <math>B = 0</math> for the corresponding round.)