Four short links: 17 July 2019
Margaret Hamilton, WeChat Censorship, Refactoring, and Ancient Games
- Margaret Hamilton Interview (The Guardian) — I found a job to support our family at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was in the laboratory of Prof Edward Lorenz, the father of chaos theory, working on a system to predict weather. He was asking for math majors. To take care of our daughter, we hired a babysitter. Here I learned what a computer was and how to write software. Computer science and software engineering were not yet disciplines; instead, programmers learned on the job. Lorenz’s love for software experimentation was contagious, and I caught the bug.
- How WeChat Censors Images in Private Chats (BoingBoing) — WeChat maintains a massive index of the MD5 hashes of every image that Chinese censors have prohibited. When a user sends another user an image that matches one of these hashes, it’s recognized and blocked at the server before it is transmitted to the recipient, with neither the recipient or the sender being informed that the censorship has taken place. Separately, all images not recognized in the hash database are processed out-of-band.
- The Best Refactoring You’ve Never Heard Of (James Koppel) — lambdas vs data structures. Very interesting talk.
- Machine Learning is About to Revolutionize the Study of Ancient Games (MIT TR) — The team model games as mathematical entities that lend themselves to computational study. This is based on the idea that games are composed of units of information called ludemes, such as a throw of the dice or the distinctively skewed shape of a knight’s move in chess. Ludemes are equivalent to genes in living things or memes as elements of cultural inheritance. They can be transmitted from one game to another, or they may die, never to be seen again. But a key is that they can be combined into bigger edifices that form games themselves.