Begin my blog by welcoming you to Tokyo, and I’ll begin mine by welcoming you to Little
Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles! My friends Kenzie, Elisa, Ben and I celebrated
the end of our sophomore year (and my 20th birthday!) by exploring
Little Tokyo and singing karaoke. Little Tokyo is surprisingly close to
Pasadena—only about 11 stops on the Metro Gold Line. The nearest Gold Line stop to campus is about a 20-minute
walk, so it’s very accessible. Here we are with our super cool Japanese snacks before
heading to the karaoke studio. All four of us started our SURFs a few days
after this. Kenzie and Elisa are doing off-campus research at the University of
Washington and MIT, conducting geology and biomedical research, respectively.
Ben and I are staying at Caltech. Ben’s partying it up doing theoretical
computer science (investigating explicit constructions of tensors!) and I’m
working on a natural language processing project in…
Laboratory for Computational Science! I have an office on the second floor that
I share with three other SURF students.
Andre is going to
be a senior at Caltech; some of the matrix computations he is doing are on the
whiteboard behind him.
Stephanie is in my class and is a mechanical engineering
major. She and Andre are both working in materials science.
Andy is visiting
from Stanford and is designing an algorithm for decomposing large matrices.
The hallways in
Powell-Booth look like those of a typical, pretty modern building. However, if
you venture far enough, you’ll find a huge room full of supercomputers: the
heart of the Center for Advanced Computing Research. Fifteen years ago, this
room housed the Intel Touchstone Delta, which at the time was the fastest, most
powerful computer in the world. When I saw the computers currently in the basement of
Powell-Booth I was reminded of a scene from the movie Angels and Demons…incidentally,
one of the main projects these computers are used for is the processing of data
from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.
One of the
supercomputers is made from a bunch of Play Station 3s hooked together! It
turns out that in addition to running video games, their cell processors
function well for doing heavy-duty computations.
…and there’s the
Play Station logo. I’m not going
to be using any of these computers during my SURF, but Andy might run some of
his code on one of them.
My next post will
have fewer computers and more food…see you then!
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!
I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.