Thoughts and Stuff

photography and coding and running and bananas

Thesis Redux

I’ve been pretty busy the past half year, and haven’t found time to work on OT. Fortunately, I recently have recovered my workflow and will update my status on OT, as well as a secret project I’ve been kicking around in the back of my head for the last several years. My college physics thesis was a simulation and analysis of a system of close-packed spheres. Specifically, I was looking what crystalline structure arises in the system as the density of spheres increases, which is a small part of the grand question, “How do objects freeze? Continue reading

Iterative Tree Node Counting

01.12.2015 writeup Minke Zhang
I love coding, but one of the major hurdles I haven’t been able to pass is the sluggish speed at which I actually write code – this is a death sentence during coding interviews. In order to combat this, I’ve been working on competitive programming over the last several months, with the result that I’ve seen some moderate improvement to my coding. One of the great strengths of these contests is that in addition to gaining raw speed, I’ve been exposed to a variety of data structures and algorithm implementations which I would have never otherwise have come across. Continue reading

Implementing dOPT

09.25.2014 writeup Minke Zhang

Implementing Cormack’s 1995 paper was more straightforward than I anticipated; as per the previous discussion with the author, I went ahead and implemented the corrected dOPT algorithm for a tree topology. The source code at the time of this writing can be found on Github for reference; all tests are passing, and no known bugs exist. Any questions on the source code can be directed to me.

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Feature Phones

09.18.2014 writeup Minke Zhang
Recently, I came across on reddit a very cool project – the “Cosmos Browser” – which is a browser which sends HTTP requests over SMS. Communicating over SMS isn’t a novel concept – many SMS APIs exist to communicate between the phone and the outside world (Chicago’s Bus Tracker being one such example). What’s striking here is that I finally understand why these APIs exist: why, given all the smartphones in the world today, with their fancy app stores, would we want to still make apps based on SMS communication? Continue reading

A Counterexample to dOPT (Cormack 1995)

09.10.2014 writeup Minke Zhang
Cormack’s 1995 paper shows a flaw in the original dOPT algorithm, in showing that the strength of the algorithm – the completely decentralized nature of the messaging protocol – leads to divergent states across different clients. Fortunately, Cormack outlines a possible way to fix the algorithm, provided that message passing between nodes is retricted to a point-to-point protocol – that is, we can no longer afford the luxury in a network topology of having circular circuits. Continue reading

Operational Transform

09.09.2014 writeup Minke Zhang
For the past few months, I’ve been attempting to develop a collaborative code editor in the command line. What that entails essentially is a Google Doc-like interface, but using ncurses, allow the program to be used in the terminal. There are of course software out which allows editing collaboration away from the browser (a partial list can be found on Wikipedia), but a scant few offer this capability from the command line. Continue reading


09.08.2014 writeup Minke Zhang
Like Python, sometimes it’s easier to write in a compile-once-run-many fashion. That is, there are times I find myself wishing that I kept track of some strange idea I had in the middle of the night, or explaining to multiple people some concept or story. Thus, I have created this blog as a reference for both myself and others in the hope that it may be, at best, a learning experience, or at worst, an interesting story to read. Continue reading