My Faults My Own

…willing to sacrifice something we don't have

for something we won't have, so somebody will someday.

IN WHICH Ross Rheingans-Yoo, a sometimes-poet and erstwhile student of Computer Science and Math, oc­cas­ion­al­ly writes on things of int­erest.

Reading Feed (last update: July 28)

A collection of things that I was happy I read. Views expressed by linked authors are chosen because I think they're interesting, not because I think they're correct, unless indicated otherwise.


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Blog: Marginal Revolution | How well is Germany dealing with the migration crisis? — "Whatever respite Germany may have gained this week is offset, and then some, by the arrival of a new and frightening political dynamic. Mr. Seehofer succeeded by going nuclear; chances are, he won’t be the last. The politics of fear and menace may be here to stay, undermining the foundations of democracy. In sound democracies, policies are the results of compromise between parties representing a majority of the voters. Through the politics of artificial crisis, minorities take the system hostage. They create policies redeeming fictional problems for fictional

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Some Friendly (College) Advice

So, I recently found myself typing up a longish email in response to a high school junior trying to figure out this whole college thing. In particular, the full story looks something like:

  • I post a Quora answer in response to a question about majoring in mathematics.
  • A user comments, asking if I would field some additional questions by email. (I've since deleted the comment, to protect the privacy of the requester.)
  • I spend the better part of an hour typing responses about what it's like to be at Harvard, what it's like to joint-concentrate CS/Math, and some advice on applying to colleges.

In the end, it seemed like there are some other people I know who might want to hear such off-the-top-of-my-head insights. But then again, if you're not a high school student, the rest of this post is going to be pretty useless for you; be forewarned.

In any case, I've reproduced (most of) the email exchange below.

Hi Ross,

My questions are as follows:

  1. From your
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Quora Repost: CS/Math@Harvard?

This is an answer to the Quora question "What is it like to be a Mathematics and Computer Science joint concentrator at Harvard?"

If you're not signed up on Quora, though, you can't read it, so I've reproduced the text here, mostly so I can reference it in Some Friendly (College) Advice. If you are a Quora user, here are the links to the original question on Quora, and my answer there.

Harry Lewis once said to me "Flip through the course catalog, write down the 32 courses you most want to take, and then figure out which concentration requires the fewest changes to what you've written down. Then pick that one."

As it turns out, I had many CS courses, several math courses, and was planning to write a thesis (most likely on the math-y edge of CS theory). So CS/Math was a perfect fit. (Math/CS is strictly more required courses, and requires approximately the same writing commitments.) But basically, it feels like I've turned in a

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Quora Repost: CS and Friends?

This is an answer to the Quora question "Are studying Computer Science at Harvard and having friends mutually exclusive?"

If you're not signed up on Quora, though, you can't read it, so I've reproduced the text here, mostly so I can reference it in Some Friendly (College) Advice. If you are a Quora user, here are the links to the original question on Quora, and my answer there.

In a word: no. In three words: haha, really no.

I've taken CS50 -- which is the hardest CS course most Harvard students will take -- and CS161 -- which is the hardest CS course at Harvard, full stop. 161 (Operating Systems) more or less ate my life (it didn't help that I was taking five courses that semester), and still I found time for my friends. When I was going into my third 20-hour coding day (you learn, eventually, that all-nighters are just inefficient), I would still take time to eat dinner with my friends -- and they were the ones

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