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James Brockbank

6 months ago

Canonical URLs for Beginners

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Shalitha Suranga

Shalitha Suranga

2 months ago

The Top 5 Mathematical Concepts Every Programmer Needs to Know

Using math to write efficient code in any language

Photo by Emile Perron on Unsplash, edited with Canva

Programmers design, build, test, and maintain software. Employ cases and personal preferences determine the programming languages we use throughout development. Mobile app developers use JavaScript or Dart. Some programmers design performance-first software in C/C++.

A generic source code includes language-specific grammar, pre-implemented function calls, mathematical operators, and control statements. Some mathematical principles assist us enhance our programming and problem-solving skills.

We all use basic mathematical concepts like formulas and relational operators (aka comparison operators) in programming in our daily lives. Beyond these mathematical syntaxes, we'll see discrete math topics. This narrative explains key math topics programmers must know. Master these ideas to produce clean and efficient software code.

Expressions in mathematics and built-in mathematical functions

A source code can only contain a mathematical algorithm or prebuilt API functions. We develop source code between these two ends. If you create code to fetch JSON data from a RESTful service, you'll invoke an HTTP client and won't conduct any math. If you write a function to compute the circle's area, you conduct the math there.

When your source code gets more mathematical, you'll need to use mathematical functions. Every programming language has a math module and syntactical operators. Good programmers always consider code readability, so we should learn to write readable mathematical expressions.

Linux utilizes clear math expressions.

A mathematical expression/formula in the Linux codebase, a screenshot by the author

Inbuilt max and min functions can minimize verbose if statements.

Reducing a verbose nested-if with the min function in Neutralinojs, a screenshot by the author

How can we compute the number of pages needed to display known data? In such instances, the ceil function is often utilized.

import math as m
results = 102
items_per_page = 10 
pages = m.ceil(results / items_per_page)
print(pages)

Learn to write clear, concise math expressions.

Combinatorics in Algorithm Design

Combinatorics theory counts, selects, and arranges numbers or objects. First, consider these programming-related questions. Four-digit PIN security? what options exist? What if the PIN has a prefix? How to locate all decimal number pairs?

Combinatorics questions. Software engineering jobs often require counting items. Combinatorics counts elements without counting them one by one or through other verbose approaches, therefore it enables us to offer minimum and efficient solutions to real-world situations. Combinatorics helps us make reliable decision tests without missing edge cases. Write a program to see if three inputs form a triangle. This is a question I commonly ask in software engineering interviews.

Graph theory is a subfield of combinatorics. Graph theory is used in computerized road maps and social media apps.

Logarithms and Geometry Understanding

Geometry studies shapes, angles, and sizes. Cartesian geometry involves representing geometric objects in multidimensional planes. Geometry is useful for programming. Cartesian geometry is useful for vector graphics, game development, and low-level computer graphics. We can simply work with 2D and 3D arrays as plane axes.

GetWindowRect is a Windows GUI SDK geometric object.

GetWindowRect outputs an LPRECT geometric object, a screenshot by the author

High-level GUI SDKs and libraries use geometric notions like coordinates, dimensions, and forms, therefore knowing geometry speeds up work with computer graphics APIs.

How does exponentiation's inverse function work? Logarithm is exponentiation's inverse function. Logarithm helps programmers find efficient algorithms and solve calculations. Writing efficient code involves finding algorithms with logarithmic temporal complexity. Programmers prefer binary search (O(log n)) over linear search (O(n)). Git source specifies O(log n):

The Git codebase defines a function with logarithmic time complexity, a screenshot by the author

Logarithms aid with programming math. Metas Watchman uses a logarithmic utility function to find the next power of two.

A utility function that uses ceil, a screenshot by the author

Employing Mathematical Data Structures

Programmers must know data structures to develop clean, efficient code. Stack, queue, and hashmap are computer science basics. Sets and graphs are discrete arithmetic data structures. Most computer languages include a set structure to hold distinct data entries. In most computer languages, graphs can be represented using neighboring lists or objects.

Using sets as deduped lists is powerful because set implementations allow iterators. Instead of a list (or array), store WebSocket connections in a set.

Most interviewers ask graph theory questions, yet current software engineers don't practice algorithms. Graph theory challenges become obligatory in IT firm interviews.

Recognizing Applications of Recursion

A function in programming isolates input(s) and output(s) (s). Programming functions may have originated from mathematical function theories. Programming and math functions are different but similar. Both function types accept input and return value.

Recursion involves calling the same function inside another function. In its implementation, you'll call the Fibonacci sequence. Recursion solves divide-and-conquer software engineering difficulties and avoids code repetition. I recently built the following recursive Dart code to render a Flutter multi-depth expanding list UI:

Recursion is not the natural linear way to solve problems, hence thinking recursively is difficult. Everything becomes clear when a mathematical function definition includes a base case and recursive call.

Conclusion

Every codebase uses arithmetic operators, relational operators, and expressions. To build mathematical expressions, we typically employ log, ceil, floor, min, max, etc. Combinatorics, geometry, data structures, and recursion help implement algorithms. Unless you operate in a pure mathematical domain, you may not use calculus, limits, and other complex math in daily programming (i.e., a game engine). These principles are fundamental for daily programming activities.

Master the above math fundamentals to build clean, efficient code.

Sukhad Anand

Sukhad Anand

2 months ago

How Do Discord's Trillions Of Messages Get Indexed?

They depend heavily on open source..

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Discord users send billions of messages daily. Users wish to search these messages. How do we index these to search by message keywords?

Let’s find out.

  1. Discord utilizes Elasticsearch. Elasticsearch is a free, open search engine for textual, numerical, geographical, structured, and unstructured data. Apache Lucene powers Elasticsearch.

  2. How does elastic search store data? It stores it as numerous key-value pairs in JSON documents.

  3. How does elastic search index? Elastic search's index is inverted. An inverted index lists every unique word in every page and where it appears.

4. Elasticsearch indexes documents and generates an inverted index to make data searchable in near real-time. The index API adds or updates JSON documents in a given index.

  1. Let's examine how discord uses Elastic Search. Elasticsearch prefers bulk indexing. Discord couldn't index real-time messages. You can't search posted messages. You want outdated messages.

6. Let's check what bulk indexing requires.
1. A temporary queue for incoming communications.
2. Indexer workers that index messages into elastic search.

  1. Discord's queue is Celery. The queue is open-source. Elastic search won't run on a single server. It's clustered. Where should a message go? Where?

8. A shard allocator decides where to put the message. Nevertheless. Shattered? A shard combines elastic search and index on. So, these two form a shard which is used as a unit by discord. The elastic search itself has some shards. But this is different, so don’t get confused.

  1. Now, the final part is service discovery — to discover the elastic search clusters and the hosts within that cluster. This, they do with the help of etcd another open source tool.

A great thing to notice here is that discord relies heavily on open source systems and their base implementations which is very different from a lot of other products.

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

5 months ago

Reasons Why AI-Generated Images Remind Me of Nightmares

AI images are like funhouse mirrors.

Google's AI Blog introduced the puppy-slug in the summer of 2015.

Vice / DeepDream

Puppy-slug isn't a single image or character. "Puppy-slug" refers to Google's DeepDream's unsettling psychedelia. This tool uses convolutional neural networks to train models to recognize dataset entities. If researchers feed the model millions of dog pictures, the network will learn to recognize a dog.

DeepDream used neural networks to analyze and classify image data as well as generate its own images. DeepDream's early examples were created by training a convolutional network on dog images and asking it to add "dog-ness" to other images. The models analyzed images to find dog-like pixels and modified surrounding pixels to highlight them.

Puppy-slugs and other DeepDream images are ugly. Even when they don't trigger my trypophobia, they give me vertigo when my mind tries to reconcile familiar features and forms in unnatural, physically impossible arrangements. I feel like I've been poisoned by a forbidden mushroom or a noxious toad. I'm a Lovecraft character going mad from extradimensional exposure. They're gross!

Is this really how AIs see the world? This is possibly an even more unsettling topic that DeepDream raises than the blatant abjection of the images.

When these photographs originally circulated online, many friends were startled and scandalized. People imagined a computer's imagination would be literal, accurate, and boring. We didn't expect vivid hallucinations and organic-looking formations.

DeepDream's images didn't really show the machines' imaginations, at least not in the way that scared some people. DeepDream displays data visualizations. DeepDream reveals the "black box" of convolutional network training.

Some of these images look scary because the models don't "know" anything, at least not in the way we do.

These images are the result of advanced algorithms and calculators that compare pixel values. They can spot and reproduce trends from training data, but can't interpret it. If so, they'd know dogs have two eyes and one face per head. If machines can think creatively, they're keeping it quiet.

You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given OpenAI's Dall-impressive E's results. From a technological perspective, it's incredible.

Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Dall-magic E's requires a lot of math, computer science, processing power, and research. OpenAI did a great job, and we should applaud them.

Dall-E and similar tools match words and phrases to image data to train generative models. Matching text to images requires sorting and defining the images. Untold millions of low-wage data entry workers, content creators optimizing images for SEO, and anyone who has used a Captcha to access a website make these decisions. These people could live and die without receiving credit for their work, even though the project wouldn't exist without them.

This technique produces images that are less like paintings and more like mirrors that reflect our own beliefs and ideals back at us, albeit via a very complex prism. Due to the limitations and biases that these models portray, we must exercise caution when viewing these images.

The issue was succinctly articulated by artist Mimi Onuoha in her piece "On Algorithmic Violence":

As we continue to see the rise of algorithms being used for civic, social, and cultural decision-making, it becomes that much more important that we name the reality that we are seeing. Not because it is exceptional, but because it is ubiquitous. Not because it creates new inequities, but because it has the power to cloak and amplify existing ones. Not because it is on the horizon, but because it is already here.

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Aparna Jain

Aparna Jain

2 months ago

Negative Effects of Working for a FAANG Company

Consider yourself lucky if your last FAANG interview was rejected.

Image by Author- Royalty free image enhanced in Canva

FAANG—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google

(I know its manga now, but watch me not care)

These big companies offer many benefits.

  1. large salaries and benefits

  2. Prestige

  3. high expectations for both you and your coworkers.

However, these jobs may have major drawbacks that only become apparent when you're thrown to the wolves, so it's up to you whether you see them as drawbacks or opportunities.

I know most college graduates start working at big tech companies because of their perceived coolness.

I've worked in these companies for years and can tell you what to expect if you get a job here.

Little fish in a vast ocean

The most obvious. Most billion/trillion-dollar companies employ thousands.

You may work on a small, unnoticed product part.

Directors and higher will sometimes make you redo projects they didn't communicate well without respecting your time, talent, or will to work on trivial stuff that doesn't move company needles.

Peers will only say, "Someone has to take out the trash," even though you know company resources are being wasted.

The power imbalance is frustrating.

What you can do about it

Know your WHY. Consider long-term priorities. Though riskier, I stayed in customer-facing teams because I loved building user-facing products.

This increased my impact. However, if you enjoy helping coworkers build products, you may be better suited for an internal team.

I told the Directors and Vice Presidents that their actions could waste Engineering time, even though it was unpopular. Some were receptive, some not.

I kept having tough conversations because they were good for me and the company.

However, some of my coworkers praised my candor but said they'd rather follow the boss.

An outdated piece of technology can take years to update.

Apple introduced Swift for iOS development in 2014. Most large tech companies adopted the new language after five years.

This is frustrating if you want to learn new skills and increase your market value.

Knowing that my lack of Swift practice could hurt me if I changed jobs made writing verbose Objective C painful.

What you can do about it

  1. Work on the new technology in side projects; one engineer rewrote the Lyft app in Swift over the course of a weekend and promoted its adoption throughout the entire organization.

  2. To integrate new technologies and determine how to combine legacy and modern code, suggest minor changes to the existing codebase.

Most managers spend their entire day in consecutive meetings.

After their last meeting, the last thing they want is another meeting to discuss your career goals.

Sometimes a manager has 15-20 reports, making it hard to communicate your impact.

Misunderstandings and stress can result.

Especially when the manager should focus on selfish parts of the team. Success won't concern them.

What you can do about it

  1. Tell your manager that you are a self-starter and that you will pro-actively update them on your progress, especially if they aren't present at the meetings you regularly attend.

  2. Keep being proactive and look for mentorship elsewhere if you believe your boss doesn't have enough time to work on your career goals.

  3. Alternately, look for a team where the manager has more authority to assist you in making career decisions.

After a certain point, company loyalty can become quite harmful.

Because big tech companies create brand loyalty, too many colleagues stayed in unhealthy environments.

When you work for a well-known company and strangers compliment you, it's fun to tell your friends.

Work defines you. This can make you stay too long even though your career isn't progressing and you're unhappy.

Google may become your surname.

Workplaces are not families.

If you're unhappy, don't stay just because they gave you the paycheck to buy your first home and make you feel like you owe your life to them.

Many employees stayed too long. Though depressed and suicidal.

What you can do about it

  1. Your life is not worth a company.

  2. Do you want your job title and workplace to be listed on your gravestone? If not, leave if conditions deteriorate.

  3. Recognize that change can be challenging. It's difficult to leave a job you've held for a number of years.

  4. Ask those who have experienced this change how they handled it.

You still have a bright future if you were rejected from FAANG interviews.

Rejections only lead to amazing opportunities. If you're young and childless, work for a startup.

Companies may pay more than FAANGs. Do your research.

Ask recruiters and hiring managers tough questions about how the company and teams prioritize respectful working hours and boundaries for workers.

I know many 15-year-olds who have a lifelong dream of working at Google, and it saddens me that they're chasing a name on their resume instead of excellence.

This article is not meant to discourage you from working at these companies, but to share my experience about what HR/managers will never mention in interviews.

Read both sides before signing the big offer letter.

Taher Batterywala

Taher Batterywala

4 months ago

Do You Have Focus Issues? Use These 5 Simple Habits

Many can't concentrate. The first 20% of the day isn't optimized.

Elon Musk, Tony Robbins, and Bill Gates share something:

Morning Routines.

A repeatable morning ritual saves time.

The result?

Time for hobbies.

I'll discuss 5 easy morning routines you can use.

1. Stop pressing snooze

Waking up starts the day. You disrupt your routine by hitting snooze.

One sleep becomes three. Your morning routine gets derailed.

Fix it:

Hide your phone. This disables snooze and wakes you up.

Once awake, staying awake is 10x easier. Simple trick, big results.

2. Drink water

Chronic dehydration is common. Mostly urban, air-conditioned workers/residents.

2% cerebral dehydration causes short-term memory loss.

Dehydration shrinks brain cells.

Drink 3-4 liters of water daily to avoid this.

3. Improve your focus

How to focus better?

Meditation.

  • Improve your mood

  • Enhance your memory

  • increase mental clarity

  • Reduce blood pressure and stress

Headspace helps with the habit.

Here's a meditation guide.

  1. Sit comfortably

  2. Shut your eyes.

  3. Concentrate on your breathing

  4. Breathe in through your nose

  5. Breathe out your mouth.

5 in, 5 out.

Repeat for 1 to 20 minutes.

Here's a beginner's video:

4. Workout

Exercise raises:

  • Mental Health

  • Effort levels

  • focus and memory

15-60 minutes of fun:

  • Exercise Lifting

  • Running

  • Walking

  • Stretching and yoga

This helps you now and later.

5. Keep a journal

You have countless thoughts daily. Many quietly steal your focus.

Here’s how to clear these:

Write for 5-10 minutes.

You'll gain 2x more mental clarity.

Recap

5 morning practices for 5x more productivity:

  1. Say no to snoozing

  2. Hydrate

  3. Improve your focus

  4. Exercise

  5. Journaling

Conclusion

One step starts a thousand-mile journey. Try these easy yet effective behaviors if you have trouble concentrating or have too many thoughts.

Start with one of these behaviors, then add the others. Its astonishing results are instant.

Ash Parrish

Ash Parrish

7 months ago

Sonic Prime and indie games on Netflix

Netflix will stream Spiritfarer, Raji: An Ancient Epic, and Lucky Luna.

Netflix's Geeked Week brought a slew of announcements. The flurry of reveals for The Sandman, The Umbrella Academy season 3, One Piece, and more also included game and game-adjacent announcements.

Netflix released a teaser for Cuphead season 2 ahead of its August premiere, featuring more of Grey DeLisle's Ms. Chalice. DOTA: Dragon's Blood season 3 hits Netflix in August. Tekken, the fighting game that throws kids off cliffs, gets an anime, Tekken: Bloodline.

Netflix debuted a clip of Sonic Prime before Sonic Origins in June and Sonic Frontiers in 2022.

Castlevania: Nocturne will follow Richter Belmont.

Netflix is reviving licensed games with titles based on its shows. There's a Queen's Gambit chess game, a Shadow and Bone RPG, a La Casa de Papel heist adventure, and a Too Hot to Handle game where a pregnant woman must choose between stabbing her cheating ex or forgiving him.

Riot's rhythm platformer Hextech Mayhem debuted on Netflix last year, and now Netflix is adding games from Devolver Digital. Reigns: Three Kingdoms is a card game that lets players choose the fate of Three Kingdoms-era China by swiping left or right on cards. Spiritfarer, the "cozy game about death" from 2020, and Raji: An Ancient Epic are coming to Netflix. Poinpy, a vertical climber from the creator of Downwell, is now on Netflix.

Desta: The Memories Between is a turn-based strategy game set in dreams and memories.

Snowman's Lucky Luna will also be added soon.

With these games, Netflix is expanding beyond dinky mobile games — it plans to have 50 by the end of the year — and could be a serious platform for indies that want to expand into mobile. It takes gaming seriously.