Purpose

Revived my blog a few days ago. It was fun to go back and look back at some of the older posts. I don’t think I’ve changed very much, though I seem a little less excitable nowadays.

In retrospect, the past semester has been a little wild. Between BusTub, trying to keep Piazza answered, the theory courses, and terrier, I’ve been on a fairly regular rotation of (two days on campus working, one day at home). Getting a little too good at taking naps in my chair in the lab, and I have a toothbrush on campus now? I adapted surprisingly well to that lifestyle though. I’ve felt pretty alright overall.

I am a little frustrated internally with a small number of students this semester. I’ve tried pretty hard to eliminate the pain points I had when taking this course, mostly with respect to the codebase. Given that this is a 400/600 level course, it wouldn’t kill students to tweak the sample test cases a little… but in the end, it takes two to teach and learn.

The theory courses have been awesome. I kind of wish 857 got to classed Jackson networks faster and had a final project instead of the barrage of homework; it looks pretty relevant to the stuff I’m doing in 418 right now. 859 has been intense. A new rabbit hole appears almost every week (and an absurd number of them have the W citation, I don’t know how he does it). Everything has been directly applicable to systems research and I’m possibly the most satisfied I’ve been with my overall schedule, even if it is killing me a little.

I’ve been spending most of this week thinking about my statement of purpose. I think I know what I want to write and do. Specifically, I want to build systems from the ground-up in a principled way; I think theory should inform practice and vice versa. Databases are just a particularly good way of hitting many fields in one beautiful little package, and there’s so many open problems to work on. I’m currently scratching my theory itch with 859, but I can’t quite decide what I would want to work on in the long-term. Distributed databases are probably the next itch, but we’re quite far from being there.

On a different type of purpose: I saw this recently, which made me pretty happy. I’m not very satisfied with who I am right now with respect to purposes like these; sure, donations are useful and one of the most efficient uses of my time, but I would like to be a little more actively involved regardless.

Life’s also pretty good on average for the people I care about, which is nice. Everything’s working out pretty well, though there’s always that little wish.

A peaceful turn of the page.

Written on November 10, 2019