July 20th, 2004

classic cylon

problem solving and sleep

I find it interesting that liralen solves engineering problems in her sleep. Most of the time, when I have dreamed of solving a problem, either I do not dream the actual solution, or I don't remember it when I wake up. BTW, a few months ago, I had a dream about a Turing machine that divided itself into two pushdown automata, which was actually an extra credit problem that was assigned when I took 6.045. (At the time, I couldn't figure it out, and when I saw the solution, I was surpised at how easy it was and wondered why I didn't think of it. I wish I could have dreamed it, but as I wrote in the last message, that sort of thing doesn't always occur to me.)

Sometimes I have wondered what it is like to be a very talented, brilliant person. I wonder what their mind is like, how it works, etc. For example, there was this guy I knew at MIT who was acing out the undergrad EE curriculum. He was one of those folks who was picked for the AT&T VI-A program where you get a bachelor's and a master's degree (that they pay for). He was an interesting person -- he made a lot of money on the side DJing parties along with a couple of other guys. (Their parties were legendary in the Boston area while I was an undergrad.)

I once had a discussion about the DJ with Bob, a friend of mine who was also a friend of his. I was telling Bob that I just didn't understand how he was able to do what he did -- it seemed like no matter what I did, I just couldn't duplicate his success. Bob gave an example of one thing the DJ did -- he converted resistance problems to impedance problems, which struck me as somewhat odd. Another thing Bob said that struck me as odd was that the DJ "paid the price" for his talent. I pressed Bob to explain further but he wouldn't. To this day I wonder just where this guy's talent comes from.

I wonder how I would feel if the cost of my being a brilliant person was sleep deprivation. I don't like being tired. Constantly being up late dealing with problems at AV made me very unhappy and probably contributed to my health problems. If anything, I was often unable to sleep because I was worried about something going wrong that I wouldn't be able to fix.

I suppose I should go to sleep now ...
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