December 3, 2004

Obviously, I've been out for a bit

I noticed today that there were no entries on the front page of my blog. I'm on a bit of a sabbatical for personal reasons. I'm sorry I'm a bit out of touch. I will be back soon.


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December 7, 2004

My very first citation in the literature

I'm still out. Sorry folks - I just have more on my plate right now than I can handle. I want to answer some of my e-mail - which I haven't read in like a week - and get back to Clement in the comments (who I'd love to meet in person, but just can't right now).

But in the mean time this has come to my attention. Titled Generación automática de hojas de estilo XSLT mediante Programación Genética, it looks like it was printed up in Actas del II Congreso español sobre Metaheurísticas, Algoritmos Evolutivos y bioinspirados in February 2003. What is remarkable about this bit of Spanish prose is that it discusses using genetic algorithms to build XSLT filters for document conversion, and, that it cites "el único trabajo publicado relacionado con el tema", which, as it turns out, was written by me.

It was not my proudest work. I did it for the grade in John Koza's genetic algorithms class at Stanford. I knew that it would, like all the other class papers, be bound and indexed, and I assumed it would spend the rest of its days resisting parasites on some rarely visited shelf in the Stanford Engineering library. Basically, since I was doing XSLT at Sun at that particular moment, I thought, hey, why not combine my job with my class? So, I did this project where I tried to use genetic algorithms to inductively build an XSLT filter that met certain specifications. It worked, kinda, for a simple problem, but it was hardly an efficient solution to designing document conversion software.

I figured I was the only guy out there nuts enough to even try such a dumbass thing, so I never figured there'd be any follow up. I was wrong.

Alas, my hispanophone colleagues have come to that same conclusion I did:

Algo tan aparentemente sencillo como lo que se ha planteado aquí, la extracción de contenido de un documento XML, ha supuesto un esfuerzo considerable, y aún así los resultados obtenidos no han sido todo lo satisfactorios que hubiéramos deseado.

Even something so apparently simple as what we considered here, extracting the contents of an XML document, has taken considerable effort and still the results we have obtained have not been as satisfactory as we would have wished.

Voila: my first cited contribution to the body of human technical knowledge. Someday, I'll be able to write about what I'm doing now, and hopefully get cited for writing something that doesn't cause me mild embarassment.


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December 13, 2004

Yes, you can get chicken pox twice

My wife has chicken pox, and it seems I gave it to her.

I had a skin problem a couple weeks ago, and once I got to see a dermatologist, he took one look at it and said herpes zoster - a.k.a. shingles. I was healing fast, so there was no real problem for me. But, herpes zoster is also chicken pox, and now my wife has a fever and is covered in spots.

This puts a crimp in any Christmas plans I had. My wife has had chicken pox before, so how this can be is something of a mystery to me.

Anyway, so I am now catching up on my mail. There's lots of stuff going on next door at AFOE that I need to catch up on from my unscheduled sabatical. So, I ought to point out that my middle school friend Matt Bolton has started a blog on labour affairs called Unions-Firms-Markets. Go take a look.

I'll be back soon. I have scans from Grandpa and there's plenty going on in the news to blog. If we aren't going anywhere for X-mas, I ought to have some time to get around to it.


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December 23, 2004

Off to Valencia for Christmas

The wife has recovered from her bout of chicken pox and we got a last-minute package to Benidorm, the Fort Lauderdale of Spain. I mentioned this at work and was told that at least I could practice my Dutch there.

I don't care. I don't care if it is the cheesiest tourist trap in Spain. I don't care if it rains the whole time. I don't care. I just need to get out of Brussels for a week.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all, and in the New Year I'm back to blogging.


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