Formalized Curiosity

A blog about academic research & teaching

Live blog of debugging complex systems session at NSDI’14

This is an experiment in live blogging, so beware ;).  My immediate impressions: the focused on advertising systems was interesting.  Large-scale analysis was a focus of many talks and (as one would expect), the answer was always to use a map-reduce-style infrastructure.

Installing Minion Pro & Myriad Pro

Minion Pro (a serif font for body text) and Myriad Pro (a sans serif font for section headings) are beautiful fonts to use when writing papers.  In my opinion, they make a well-written paper even more pleasant to read.  I first saw Minion Pro used in a SIGCOMM paper from MSR, and I’ve been using it ever since, including in my dissertation.

An example of using Myriad Pro.
An example of using Myriad Pro.

Unfortunately, installing new fonts in LaTeX is complicated.  It requires dozens of steps and a simple typo in any one of them can lead to hours of unneeded headaches.  This is why I was ecstatic to find a git repository that automates installing these fonts.  You can find it here:  Just be sure to run the install script as sudo.  Also, after installing each font, type:

Picture of a cloud

Thoughts on developing & teaching a cloud computing class

This past semester, I co-developed and co-taught a graduate class on cloud computing (15-719, Fall 2013) with three other professors at CMU.  The class was targeted at Master’s students (mostly) and PhD students (somewhat).  My responsibilities included developing an initial version of the syllabus, creating and supporting the projects, and lecturing.  I also created a project for a separate cloud computing online course being developed at CMU.  This was my first time teaching/developing a class, so I wanted to record some of my experiences here.

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.

Yet another blog

Well, I’ve finally decided to create a blog.  I’d been thinking about creating one for a while, but as you might imagine, it’s been hard to find enough spare time.

Why create this blog?  In the course of obtaining my PhD, I feel like a lot of people have put quite a bit of effort into helping me understand how to approach life in academia.  I’ve also learned quite a few things by trial and error.  In this blog, I hope to encode my experiences in hopes that doing so will help me and others learn from them.  Expect conference reports, teaching experiences, and the like on this blog.

I spent a lot of time thinking about a good title for this blog.  I settled on “Formalized Curiosity” because it perfectly defines academic research.  The original quote, by Zora Neale Hurston, is below.

Research is formalized curiosity.  It is poking and prying with a purpose.

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