About Me

I live in Bellevue, Washington with my wife Megan, daughter Aurora, son Luke, and faithful dog-like cat Pippin. I work for Microsoft as a research software development engineer. I received my PhD in computer science and machine learning in 2008 from Cornell. As an undergraduate at Duke I majored in computer science, and mathematics, and minored in economics. I originally hail from Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

A More Discursive About Me

For the first eighteen years of my life I lived in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, the child of two actuaries, and the brother of two older sisters.

It seems inevitable that a description of my life be largely centered around computers. I'm not entirely sure how I should feel about that. When I was six, my eldest sister helped me write my first computer program, but it was not until I was eight or nine I started to actually learn how to program. I learned BASIC from a summer computer camp at a local school, and my sister taught me Pascal and later C. At around the same time, I got my first computer of my own, a Mac IIcx. This event precipitated my disappearance, as my mom sometimes jokes, since I thenceforth spent nearly all my free time on my computer on various hobbies. In 1993 I started a small and commercially unsuccessful local BBS with Hermes II, an endeavor I gave up after about a year. In 1995 I started authoring web pages, including SHTML and Perl for CGI scripts. Just prior to college I taught myself C++, a language which struck me as a horrifying obtuse overly-complicated corruption of C. Time and experience have only reinforced this opinion.

I started my undergraduate career in 1998 at Duke as an electrical engineer. However, a lack of natural talent for electrical engineering sapped any enjoyment I might have had in the field, so I switched out of engineering. I wound up majoring in computer science and mathematics. In addition to regular coursework, I TAed the computer architecture course for many semesters, competed in the ACM ICPC including the 2003 world finals, and over summers worked for the computer science department on the JAWAA and JFLAP visualization tools with Dr. Susan Rodger.

There was a intermezzo of several months between undergrad and grad school, during which time I wrote a JFLAP book with Dr. Rodger, and also coded a timer program to teach myself Cocoa. This latter project wound up getting a review in Macworld.

Time had bent my interests towards the more theoretical and mathematical aspects of computer science to the point where I wanted a career in academia. I thus joined Cornell's computer science department as a PhD student, and for five years worked under Thorsten Joachims on machine learning and structural SVMs. My thesis concerned the use of structural SVMs with approximate learning. While five years as a PhD student disabused me of my romantic notions of academia, on the whole I greatly enjoyed my time at Cornell and my life in beautiful Ithaca. Aside from my papers, extant artifacts of my graduate career include Python interfaces to existing C/C++ software frameworks (Python had become my favorite language for many purposes), most notably SVMpython, PyGLPK, and PyGraphcut.

2008 was a whirlwind year for me. I met and married my wife Megan, completed my PhD, and accepted an offer from Microsoft to join Live Search (later rebranded as Bing). So, I have since lived and worked in the Puget Sound region. In this capacity I make good use of my skills in machine learning, statistics, mathematics, and software development. In 2010, Megan gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Aurora, and as a followup to this performance in 2013 gave birth to our son Luke.

I have some pastimes outside of computers and mathematics. My three major non-work hobbies are writing, astronomy, and photography. For reading, my favorite authors are Twain, Vonnegut (who died; so it goes), Dostoevsky, Borges, and Tolkien. My favorite TV shows are the usual nerd fare for someone my age: TNG, B5, Buffy, Firefly, and BSG. My favorite composer is Chopin. As an experiment I have created a blog to host informal self-indulgent content.

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