Index | Archives | Categories | Tags | Atom Feed | RSS Feed

Reading January - March 2018

Inspired by Eli Bendersky's postcache


The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday. A modern introduction to Stoicism. If you don't like the writing style, try Senca or Marcus Aurelius.

Cicero - Selected Works, Penguin Classics. One of the greatest orators of all time, contrasting his speeches with modern politicians gives you a lot of perspective.

Lessons of History, Will & Ariel Durant. Lessons from their history research, personally I found it a bit underwhelming compared to the tittle, but it has a concise summary of many historical events.

The Master of Go, Yasunari Kawabata. An account of the last title …

AlphaGo Documentary

As some of you may have noticed, the AlphaGo documentarycache is now available on Play Moviescache and Netflixcache!

It's a great documentary and really captures the history of AlphaGo very well - every time I watch it it takes me right back to the excitement of those months! If you are interested in AI, Go, or just like documentaries in general I really recommend you give it a try.

Breaking the Rules to Improve Society

Recently, I was talking with some friends about the increasing power of technology, and how it is being applied to ever more accurately enforce laws. In just one example, facial recognition is now used in China to automatically identify and fine jaywalkerscache.

One common concern is that these technologies are easily abused for more sinister purposes - mass surveillance, identification of political dissidents, etc.

However, I think there's an even more direct danger: Too rigid enforcement of laws stops society from improving. Until 1967cache, homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment in the UK. If it had been possible to always …

AlphaGo Zero

Usually in software, version numbers tend to go up, not down. With AlphaGo Zero, we did the opposite - by taking out handcrafted human knowledge, we ended up with both a simpler and more beautiful algorithm and a stronger Go program.

We provide a full description in our paper, Mastering the game of Go without human knowledge, which you can also read online.

At the core is a self-improvement loop based on self-play and Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS): We start with a randomly initialized network, then use this network in the MCTS to play the first games. The network is …

AlphaGo in China

You might have heard about our recent games with AlphaGocache in China, at the Future of Go summit. No only did we play the legendary Ke Jie, but there were also two new and exciting formats: Team Go and Pair Go.

This match was also very exciting on the technical side because we had improved AlphaGo to the point where we ran it on a single machine in the Google Cloudcache - that's one tenth of the computation powercache compared to the distributed version we used in the last match!

Personally, I also really enjoyed the Pair Go …

fitbit v3

Good news! My attempts with wearing the fitbit in reverse, i.e. with the sensor at the underside of my arm, were successful:

Chart showing heart rate as measured by Polar H10 vs fitbit alta HR

This time the fitbit alta HR and the Polar H10 agreed much more closely, even during an hour of running! It also correctly detected the drop in heart rate in the middle of my run when I stopped for a bit.

So while not accurate enough for serious heart rate tracking during exercise (for that I still recommend a chest strap like the Polar H10), the fitbit is definitely good enough for 24/7 monitoring and more …

fitbit v2

As promised in the previous post, I made another attempt at getting more accurate readings from the fitbit. The good news is that wearing it tighter does seem to improve the sensor readings. The bad news is that I'm not sure if this tightness is comfortable in the long run, we'll see.

The following was recorded while grocery shopping, cooking and eating Salmon Teriyaki bowls and some reading:

Chart showing heart rate as measured by Polar H10 vs fitbit alta HR

The two peaks in heart rate correspond to me walking to and from the grocery shop. Curiously the fitbit once again exaggerated my actual pulse; this time though there was definitely no …

Heart Rate Trackers

Recently I acquired one of the new fitbit alta HR bands, mainly because it promised to track my heart rate 24/7 without the need to wear any chest strap.

I always expected this to be less accurate than a chest strap, but how much less? I also happen to have a Polar H10 chest strap (which I use when running), so I decided to record with both for an extended period today.

The results are below (click for the full image):

Chart showing heart rate as measured by Polar H10 vs fitbit alta HR

The fitbit is in blue, the Polar strap in green. There are a few gaps in the data …

Linux on the Alienware 13 R3 (2017)

I recently bought a new laptop because my trusty old Thinkpad (x230) finally got a bit too old for my taste (apart from the battery it still works perfectly though!).

After a lot of searching around and gnashing of teeth - how can current laptops be barely faster than my 4 year old Thinkpad?! And what do you mean, the laptop comes with at most 16 GB of RAM and I can't even upgrade it?!

Finally, I settled on the Alienware 13.

As a gaming laptop, it has a quad core i7 - 7th gen Kaby Lake - and a great GPU, the …

Error handling with Status(Or)

I just read an article linked on Hacker News advocating the use of Either<L, R> to signal errors in functions. While I think this is a good start, in my experience Either is too general, the lack of standardizing of the error value makes error handling abstractions hard. How did that file function signal again that a file was not found?

What works a lot better in my experience is a more specialized type Status, with a standardized enum of error codes and a free form error message.

Here's an excerpt from the Status type we use at Google …

© Julian Schrittwieser. Built using Pelican. Theme by Giulio Fidente on github. .