She was briskly walking downtown when the pressure attacked her, as if a hand were clenching and releasing her heart, clenching and releasing, clenching and releasing. It toyed with her, tantalizing her with momentary relief, before tightening its grip again. With each repetition the hand grew and expanded its control...

conversation with a rationalist

“How do you know Tania?”

“Oh, from the rationalist sphere, of course.. How about you?”

“Oh, well we’re both in the same PhD program.”

“Oh, nice,” he nodded.


“Cool dog tag necklace,” she pointed.

“It’s for the Cryonics Institute.” He held it up, so she could read the engraving...

Undergraduate Research Tips

There’s a lot of research advice out there, but not much focused specifically on undergrads. So here I’ve tried outlining undergrad-focused tips.

  1. Consider trying other options (e.g. software internship) first. Some types of research will require more advanced knowledge that you probably won’t have yet as, say,...

Bounded Optimality

A friend recently asked me why I find bounded optimality interesting. Here’s why:

  1. It is necessary to have a normative framework for how agents should act under computational pressure because this is what the real world is like. In the real world an agent should understand not to...

Kneser-Ney Smoothing

Language modeling is important for almost all natural language processing tasks: speech recognition, spelling correction, machine translation, etc. Today I’ll go over Kneser-Ney smoothing, a historically important technique for language model smoothing.

Language Models

A language model estimates the probability of an n-gram from a training corpus. The simplest...