2019 in Review

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2019 in Review

04 Jan 2020

This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2019.

Posts Summary

This year I continued my efforts to learn about Bioinformatics. I wrote about the DNA Assembly problem, Protein Fold prediction and Protein Design.

I covered some Computer Science topics such as Consistent Hashing, the Aho-Corasick algorithm and Constructing Trees from a Distance Matrix (as part of my studies in Bioinformatics).

For Web Development I learned about JavaScript Async Functions and CDNs in more details. I explored Observable, a JavaScript notebook.

As part of my resolution for 2019, I learned a bit more about Rust, in particular its memory management model which is the part I struggled (and still do) the most with. I also started revisiting Python because of work, and started with Python Type Hints.

I assembled my own Desktop which inspired me to learn more about the Von Neumann Architecture. I also went back to using Linux (after many years exclusive on MacOS).

The Blog in 2019

The most popular blog post of the year was the Python Type Hints (10k views, 9k visits in just 2 days!). It was somehow feature on the front page of Hacker News being at position #8 at some point! The discussion was mostly about the merits of typed vs. untyped languages but it was a nice surprise nevertheless.

With some delays here and there, I kept the resolution to post once a month on average. The blog completed 7 years with 92 posts.

Resolutions for 2020

My plan is to focus in learning Python, since now I have an opportunity to use it at work. I’ll keep Rust on the side and learn more about it if time permits.

My studies on Bioinformatics made me feel that the computational models are too simplistic to be useful in practice. I’d love to get exposed to real-world examples, even if they’re ugly heuristics, but for now I’m done with the theory. As I dived deeper on the subjects, I started seeing more and more mentions to quantum physics and quantum computing.

I studied QM back in college, but I cannot claim to understand even the basics of it. As for Quantum Computing, I know as much as Justin Trudeau ;) My focus will be in learning Quantum Computing.

I’m still interested in reading more papers, especially on distributed systems and AI, and mobile development (I mentioned these for the sake of tradition at this point, since I never end up following up on them).

Personal

At the end of the year I like to look back and reflect on and remember all the things I’ve done besides work and the technical blog.

Trips

In summary, in 2019 I visited Israel, Egypt, India. Within the US, I had a chance to visit many national parks.

Early in the year, after a work trip, I went to Egypt and visited some sites in Cairo and Luxor.

egypt.jpg
1. Giza Pyramids, 2. Temple in Luxor, 3. Lanterns in the Khan el-Khalili

In November we attended a wedding in Hyderabad. We decided to tour around New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra before heading south to Hyderabad and Tirupati. From my selection below, one can see how much I admire the Mughal architecture.

india.jpg
Top: 1. Humayun Tomb (New Delhi), 2. Hawa Mahal (Jaipur), 3. Jal Mahal. Bottom: 1. Karauli Temple, 2. Taj Mahal (Agra), 3. Qtub Tombs (Hyderabad)

I had a chance to see many new National Parks and their natural wonders, as part of a quick trip to Seattle, Washington and a road trip in Southern Utah.

nps.jpg
Top: 1. Lake Diablo (North Cascades), 2. Angel's Landing Overlook (Zion), 3. Canyons (Bryce). Bottom: 4. Rock formations along the road 5. Famous arch (Arches) 6. Islands in the sky (Canyonlands).

Books

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. It makes a case that being a generalist can lead to a more successful path. He provided a bunch of examples including Roger Federer and Galileo. Engaging. Book Cover
A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. covers many philosophers and schools of thought. Good perspective on Western Europe's history. His accounts often expose his own beliefs and opinions. Book Cover
Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine by Thomas Hager. Describes the history of 10 drugs, from opioids, to vaccines and high colestherol drugs. Engaging. Book Cover
The Book of Why by Judea Pearl. Pearl describes some of his work such as Causal Models and Do Calculus in accessible language. The ideas are very clever and interesting, but the language of the book is a bit hyperbolic (e.g. terms like miracle, revolution and "scientists couldn't have done this before") which gets in the way. Book Cover
Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. The authors draw ideas from Computer Science (mostly combinatorial optimization) to solve problems from real life. Great to see many problems and algorithms from grad school in here. Book Cover
Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. Analyzes several success stories to make a compelling case that success is not about just genius and hard-work. The environment where you were born and grow up matter a lot more than we think. Book Cover
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Intense and powerful story. Tara grew up in an environment very hostile to her education but succeeded in achieving high goals against the odds. Really well written. Book Cover
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. history of Nike from the perspective of its founder. Phil is a good writer and Nike had a very interesting initial business model. Book Cover
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry. Provides a nice overview of the Greek Mythology focusing on the gods and semi-gods (not heroes). Casual writing style and interesting connections to the current world (via etymologies). Book Cover