Down Memory Lane: Stanford Machine Learning Course Notes

These courses are serving up distinct reminders of why I’ve always done poorly at school: I’m lazy and sloppy. Very lazy and very sloppy. And my god do schools punish you for these personality traits.

The DB course is teaching me about my laziness. I’ve learned to call my brand of laziness “programmer’s laziness“. I would rather spend a bajillion hours building something that prevents me from doing 5 hours of work, as long as I can satisfy two conditions:

  1. I find a way of engineering the task in a way that interests me (this is easier than it sounds: lots of things interest me)
  2. Nobody tells me to do it this way

Usually the ratio isn’t a bajillion : 5. Usually I save a bit of time doing it because it would probably take me longer to use the conventional method. I suppose it’s not really laziness, as in an aversion to work; rather, it’s an extreme aversion to doing things in a manner I don’t enjoy/choose.

My second problem is that I’m sloppy. This one KILLS me in math-related courses. Now, my brand of sloppiness doesn’t really manifest itself in the workplace because the one-shot-and-done testing environment doesn’t really exist in real life.

Real math and real problem solving happen in an iterative, collaborative and failure-laden environment. I normally get so excited about solving a problem that I stop concentrating on stuff. I can go back later, realize I’ve been screwing it up and crunch away harder than I possibly could on the first pass. Computers take care of the arithmetic and, presto, the product improves. This makes me a TERRIBLE test-taker.

And I’m turning out some TERRIBLE test results right now. Ick.

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