Saturday, August 09, 2003

Last night, I went with Mike and Tracy and Mike's father to see a jazz show at Yoshi's in Oakland. It was Pharoah Sanders and his group, and the show was excellent. There was a drummer, bass fiddle player, pianist, vocalist, and saxophonist. I was particularly impressed by the piano and bass fiddle.

It was an evening well spent, particularly since the alternative would probably have been to spend more time debugging. I thought about spending some time debugging today, but I opted to use my time and energy writing instead. The mathematics is interesting, and it seems as though broader implications become clear daily. Being able to say to someone I can solve that problem using an order of magnitude less time and space than you used before is very satisfying. It's useful to read and write and remember how curious and interesting these structures are when I feel utterly frustrated trying to diagnose problems with the code that works on them.

One day, I'll learn to present my work in a way that sounds interesting and useful to anyone, regardless of technical background or lack thereof. I think one key is to describe the physical things described by my equations, and say what I'm trying to predict in an informal way. Another key is to simply change the subject when the asker could really care less. I'm getting better at that. Hearing from friends that my work sounds incomprehensible and boring doesn't decrease my interest, but over time I think it has worn away some of my tendency to launch into minor lectures about whatever I've been thinking about at the slightest cue. I can always deal with the frustration by delivering longer lectures to those who are actually interested. I feel like people who ask me questions are doing a favor to me more than vice-versa. They give me ideas! And they let me tell them about interesting things!

  • Currently drinking: Water