Random

This is a page for random thoughts – deep or otherwise. The oldest ones are at the end, but I wonder if random thoughts should be listed in random order…


“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach.

When I was a kid, newspapers in India often had a “quote of the day”; they probably still do. This was a quote my mother read out aloud to me one day and, for some reason, has been stuck in my head all these years. – 28Aug202


“The more time you spend talking about what you have been doing, the less time you have to do what you have been talking about. Eventually, you spend more and more time talking about less and less until finally you spend all your time talking about nothing.” – Augustine’s law of Oratorical Engineering or Law Number XLVIII. From “Augustine’s Laws”, book by Norman Augustine, AIAA, 1997.

Another quote that needs no explanation. – 28Aug2022


“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” – from “Once and Future King” by T. H. White; spoken by Merlin to the young Arthur.

This quote needs no explanation. – 27Mar2022


“Math keeps us honest, I told you. It prevents us from lying to ourselves and to each other. You can be wrong with math, but you can’t lie. And it’s true – you can’t lie with math. But it greatly aids obfuscation.” – Sabine Hossenfelder, author “Lost In Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray”

Often, it is the last two lines of this paragraph that are quoted. I find the entire quote relevant as it touches upon an important aspect of math in data analysis, namely, math prevents us from lying to ourselves. This quote, and the article by Lipton and Steinhardt, have guided me as I attempt to write clear and concise technical papers. – 19Mar2022


“All linear problems are alike; each nonlinear problem is nonlinear in its own way” – Prof. David Keyes (KAUST), with apologies to Tolstoy. From a presentation at LLNL, December 2021.

I like this cautionary quotation by David as it so aptly, and succinctly, explains why data mining is hard in practice and why a solution created to solve one problem cannot simply be used, as is, to solve other similar problems. It is also the best variant of the first line from Anna Karenina that I have come across! – 19Mar2022


What is this? Rangoli or kolam are usually simple, sometimes intricate, designs made on the floor, typically using rice powder. In many parts of India, one of the early morning tasks is to sweep the area by the front door of the house, wash it with water, and create these designs. As a kid, one of our neighbors used to create a kolam by their front door. I was fascinated by the designs, especially when I saw one being created. How did they know where to put the rice powder? I wondered. It seemed like there had to be an algorithm (okay, I was too young to know the word ‘algorithm’). Much later, thanks to the internet, I know a lot more about these designs. I find myself even more fascinated by the ‘scalable’ structure of these designs and their fractal nature. And, if you look at one being created, yes, it is clear there is an algorithm behind each one! Beauty and mathematics seem to go hand-in-hand once again! – 05Mar2022