Saturday, November 30, 2013

South of the Border, West of the Sun

"South of the Border, West of the Sun" is the first novel from Murakami that I finally get to read. I tried twice before, but probably I was not in the mood for reading at that time since I didn't manage to get past the first few pages. But this one hooked me and now I'm in the world of feelings and remorses of Hajime. What strikes me most is the contrast with a book that I read many years ago: "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" by Kundera. While Kundera writes about how our memories wear off until we don't recognize them any more, Hajime's life is full of feelings and memories from his youth. The book is full of references (including the title) to classical and jazz songs, but the most mentioned one is Star-Crossed Lovers of Duke Ellington, so here is it:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NLP for Children

Natural language processing has always been my favorite topic from artificial intelligence field. Let's remember that many anthropologists think that our elaborate language is the feature that makes us humans and distinguish us from the rest of the animals. Also, the famous Turing test for artificial intelligence says that a computer should be able to have such an elaborate conversation with a human, that the person would not be able to tell that he is talking in fact with a computer. For years the NLP field developed as computational linguistics with all kinds of grammars and tree structures, but the breakthrough is this field occurred when statistical methods were applied. On the other hand, there is a lot of research on how the children actually learn to speak. It is amazing that in about an year or so a child is able to understand what is said around her and she starts talking. In this paper are presented three cases of learning of various language features by children and the first case is how the babies of 6-7 months old learn to segment the continuous speech into distinct words. The findings suggest that they in fact apply statistical learning and segment the words on consecutive syllables the are unlikely to occur one after the other. This is just amazing, the same principle is used in many NLP algorithms. So clearly I must step up my skills in statistics to keep up with these youngsters that use them from the first months of life :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Like a Bosch

I read this morning an editorial called Bosch's Code from a Romanian newspaper. Nothing in there about auto parts or electrical machines, nor about the factories that Bosch has in Romania at Cluj and Blaj, it was all about the painter Hieronymus Bosch. The author recently quit his career in Romanian politics and maybe the abjection of political life is what draw him into the subject of Bosch's paintings, nevertheless it is an interesting read, all about art with a twist about faith at the end. To add some background music to this reading I will post the video of Metallica's "Until It Sleeps", one of my favorite songs from them. When I first saw this video I thought that it looks like a Bosch painting, which is a bit weird in the first place, but it seems that I had a "bad" entourage in high school :) Now I just verified my feeling and there is it: Metallica actually made this video with themes from Bosch's paintings, the details are here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ender's Game - The Movie

I recently attended a course called Personal Leadership and Influence which I liked a lot (very good trainers, challenging setting with lots of team projects in four days). It teaches you all kind of stuff about how to interact with various kind of people in various situations, to be aware about how you feel and think and how different other people might feel and think, how to work in a team and overcome blocking points and more. When I went last night to see Ender's Game movie I realized this is what attracted me to Ender's story in the first place when I read the book. It was not the fights with the aliens or whatever technologies, but the story of how Ender becomes a leader, managing and block-busting the difficult situations he encounter at each step. The movie is good, they managed to create a nice orbiting space battle school, including the zero gravity battle room, but it is very condensed comparing to the book. I would have liked to see more school battles with the associated details about various conflicts and team spirit building that is described in the book. So even if you would go and see this movie, you should not skip the book, it is much nicer and complex. Below is one of the trailers of the movie:

Friday, November 01, 2013

Memory of a song

That happened last night, I started hearing in my head at some point the chorus of a song that I didn't know very well, probably heard on the radio some years ago. It must have been a loose Halloween soul that brought it to my mind, although I didn't see any witch flying on broom by my window. The words were something with dream about you or dream about me and after a little research on Google I found it. I listened it like 10 times since last night, I even sang it to Sabina this morning and she seems to like it, so here it is: Moby - Dream About Me. Enjoy!