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Showing posts from November, 2012

Sex and its irrationality

I am probably your average heterosexual male specimen. Having gone through a younger period where sex is at the top of my list of priorities, my hormones have calmed down somewhat and now it appears I can finally examine sex with more rationality.

Recently it is beginning to get to me that sex is not something that one can rationalize. It lies outside the realms of rationality. The fact that a heterosexual male gets aroused by the sight of breasts or the vagina is not something one can deconstruct. In fact, there is nothing inherently attractive about these things other than the fact that millions of years of evolution have built their sense of attractiveness into us, without which our species cannot survive. If an alien from another planet were to land on Earth, they will never understand why we find breasts or vagina sexy, much as we can understand how a peahen will find the large and bright tail of a peacock sexy.

And we have discovered for a long time that there is a large variety…

Roomba navigation algorithm

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I have been a long time user of the Roomba vacuum robot, starting from version 1 till now. It has made a big difference to my life, and I enthusiastically recommend it to all my friends.

One thing that stands Roomba apart from other vacuum robot is its navigation algorithm. There is no high-level mapping involved. Instead it uses localized decision making, much like how insects forage for food:

Our robot computes its algorithm 67 times every second, constantly stitching together information about its environment and recomputing its path. When it starts you’ll notice a spiral pattern, it’ll spiral out over a larger and larger area until it hits an object. When it finds an object, it will follow along the edge of that object for a period of time, and then it will start cris-crossing, trying to figure out the largest distance it can go without hitting another object, and that’s helping it figure out how large the space is, but if it goes for too long a period of time without hitting a wal…