A single chip such has Intel Xeon Phi has a computational power in excess of 1TFLOPS and features more than a hundred billion transistors. Few people outside the world of semi-conductor engineering appreciate this, but that is a fantastical number: 100,000,000,000. If every transistor was a pixel, you would need a wall 0f 100 x 100 4K TV screen to display them all!
Over the past fifty years, the semiconductor industry has achieved incredible things, in part thanks to planar technology, which allowed to exponentially scale the manufacturing process, following Moore’s law. But it seems that we’re about to hit a wall soon.Let’s give an overview of where we stand, and where do we go from here! Continue reading →
Over the years I’ve collected quotes from people who are.
I always like quotes, because they are atoms of knowledge, quick and dirty ways to understand the world we only have one life to explore. To some extent, they axioms of life in that they are true and never require an explanation (otherwise they wouldn’t be quotations.)Here’s a bunch of quotes that I found particularly interesting, starting with my absolute favorite quote comes from the great Paul Valery:
The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us. – Paul Valery
On research — trial and error
Basic research is like shooting an arrow into the air and, where it lands, painting a target.
-Homer Burton Adkins
A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.
– Friedrich Nietzsche Continue reading →
In the past four years, there’s been a lot of progress in the field of machine learning, and here’s a story seen from the outskirts.
Eight years ago, for a mock start-up project, we tried to do some basic headtracking. At that time, my professor Stéphane Mallat told us that the most efficient way to do this was the Viola-Jones algorithm, which was still based on hard-coded features (integral images and Haar features) and a hard classifier (adaboost.)
With every year comes the occasion to read new books!
I’ve assembled a small collection of books that I love, so that you can discover them and share the love around! Since there are twelve months in a year, you’ll find twelve books. They are presented in no particular order, so that you can enjoy them at random, sitting in a couch sipping some wine.
Ringolevio is a sort of autobiography by Emmett Grogan, a leader of the Diggers in San Francisco just about when it was becoming cool (early 60s). It is a great book in that it is written with a punch, and has a deep sense of social awareness. It is quite fun to read Timothy Leary and other fake-prophets of the revolution getting thrashed.
Emmett wondered whether anything viable was going to come out of it: whether the powerless might for once obtain enough power to make some sort of relevant change in the society. He immediately dismissed as ridiculous the notion that everything would be all right when everyone turned on acid. It was noted that LSD was used during World War Two to solve naval tactical maneuvers, and they concluded that although the drug might facilitate understanding or the process of doing something, it offered no moral direction or imperatives.
This is my absolute favorite poem books. It is very short, and has the deepest thoughts ever assembled in a book. This book is a treasure, and I have offered it to people I care about. This book is often out of print, but don’t settle for a different collection, this one is really unique if you can find it, and by far the best translations I’ve found.
Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess what it is
– Antonio Machado
A few years ago, I got interested in the then-nascent Julia language (julialang.org), a new open source language based on Matlab syntax with C-like performances, thanks to its just-in-time compiler.
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST, Chile) data being processed with Julia on super computers with 200x speedup (from https://arxiv.org/pdf/1611.03404.pdf)
It now seems that the language is gaining traction, with many available packages, lots of REPL integration (it works with Atom+Hydrogen, and I suspect Jupyter gets its first initial from Julia and Python) and delivering on performances.
During the past twelve months, I become enamored with Middle-Eastern music who now wears many clothes, from electro to Queen-esque Arabic music.
Since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some offerings!
It seems that the best way to fight against the rampant islamophobia is to emphasize the beauty of the culture, and blend it with modern tunes. Youth will follow, and eventually replace the old patriarchy that has plagues so many Muslim countries.
Never underestimate the healing power of music
– Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon
Acid Arab is a French DJ band who mixes Arab tunes with electronic music. Their mix at the Sonar 2016 is an absolute masterpiece, blending fantastic rythms with melodies rarely heard in electronic music.
Mash’rou Leila is a Lebanese band, extremely popular in the Middle-East. It is very varied, and the singer Hamed Sinno has a Freddie Mercury-like persona, and brings lot of poetry. Shim El Yasmine is a song that talks about the odor of the jasmine of his partner at the time, who went on leave him to marry a woman, because society wouldn’t understand that love is love…
A week before I went to see them live at Slim’s in San Francisco, the band had been banned from el-Sisi’s Egypt, where people in the audience raised rainbow flags…Cantique des cantique by Rudolphe Burger is my favorite song of 2017 (though it was recorded in 2014.) It is an interpretation of the Song of Songs, one of the most beautiful piece of poetry in the Judeo-Christian corpus.
The song is in French and Hebrew, and it’s absolute bliss.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
Some may have been wondering what I have been up to lately!
At the beginning of the year, I started working on the ALS-U project, which is the upgrade of the Advanced Light Source, the main synchrotron at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The goal is to improve the facility with a Diffraction-Limited Storage Ring (DLSR), in order to increase the brilliance of the beam, so as allow scientists from all over the world to perform the most precise experiments, allowing bright and full coherent beams with diameters as small as 10 nanometer, or twice the width of a strand of DNA. (here’s a report on all the niceties you can do with such a tool: ALS-U: Solving Scientific Challenges with Coherent Soft X-Rays)