There (and There) and Back Again: Hiking Pittsburgh’s Eulerian Circuit

In 18th Century Prussia, Loenhard Euler decided to take a walk along the Seven Bridges of Königsberg, crossing every bridge exactly once. He had trouble devising a route that would end with him back where he started, though, so he invented graph theory just to prove that it wasn’t possible. Euler’s idea to represent real-world phenomena as graphs…

Pittsburgh, in 21 Films

Last week I went to see Fences, the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play by the same name. It represents the 1950s-era installment of his Pittsburgh Cycle, a century-long portrait of the African American experience in the 20th century, using the city of Pittsburgh as its platform. I’ve been on a kick of watching movies set here in my adopted hometown for the past…

An Analysis of FAWM (2017)

Thirteen years ago, I started a project called FAWM (February Album Writing Month) with a few friends. It was a way to motivate ourselves to make more music. The goal is to write 14 songs in the 28 days of February, much in the same way NaNoWriMo challenges you to write a whole novel in a month. Maybe it’s crappy, maybe it’s not. Don’t…

Designing the JANUS Overdrive

For about three years now, I’ve been teaching myself guitar electronics (which I’ve written about before), and stompbox effects in particular. As a software and data kind of guy, it’s a nice to have a hobby that’s physical — but still technical — and also useful to my band as we explore new soundscapes. After building a few DIY all-in-one kits, I…

The Three Faces of Bayes

Last summer, I was at a conference having lunch with Hal Daumé III when we got to talking about how “Bayesian” can be a funny and ambiguous term. It seems like the definition should be straightforward: “following the work of English mathematician Rev. Thomas Bayes,” perhaps, or even “uses Bayes’ theorem.” But many methods bearing the reverend’s name…

Machine Learning Roller Derby Names

I have several friends who do roller derby, and one of my favorite things about the culture is the derby name. This is a fun way for skaters to express their personalities through witty, satirical, and mock-violent alter-egos. Since most of my derby friends also have PhDs in computer science, machine learning, or statistics, they can be wonderfully nerdy, too. A while back I was…

Transistor Clustering for DIY Guitar Effects

For the past couple of years, I’ve been teaching myself analog guitar electronics. (I previously wrote about fixing an old tube amplifier.) It’s nice to have a hobby that is “material” in nature — a departure from my usual world of data and software — but that also complements my musical interests. In fact, two of the seven pedals on my delicious…