For the past two weeks I have been in a confused depressed haze. What do I want to make my life about?, I asked myself over and over again. The more people I conversed with, the more suggestions I got, but I knew that none of these were yet what I desired: wealth, happiness, a family, a good life, a prestigious job. No. Fuck that.
I sat today at my desk, defeated and depressed, asking myself the same question again: What do I want to make of my life? What is my “legacy” – for the lack of a better word? I thought that again it would be a futile search – like all these days I kept failing.
Then I distracted myself reading a paper on belief propagation. Reaching section 4, it hit me, suddenly, like an ocean wave crashing on the shore, I figured the meaning of my life. And it was so fucking obvious, I guess I overlooked it for so long.
It’s hookers and cocaine.
No, just kidding, it’s creating things. It is basically taking building blocks and making something new or interesting. Hopefully, the creation of useful stuff, solutions or artistic objects.
By now, I have figured out already that I am nowhere smart enough to come up with paradigm shifting ideas in physics nor prove anything groundbreaking in mathematics, but maybe I’m just bright enough to understand or extend some theory and apply it to solve problems in various fields.
From a technical perspective, my ultimate goal is to be able to solve every problem I deem interesting to be solved. At last, my apparent random walk in learning and working starts making a bit of sense. I think I gathered a good set of tools to pursue this goal.
So what do I (a person with zero authority in the matter) think it’s useful to fulfill such goal?
- Mathematics to describe the world, for example, understanding of odes and pdes (modelling of physical world). Probability and statistics (to deal with uncertainty. e.g. (most) measurements of the world have some inherent noise due to the measurement device, so measurements should be interpreted as a random variable with a certain probability distribution.)
- Computing, in particular, programming and high performance computing (solving things computationally, in particular, the ability to translate complex models into a computable program, the ability to deal with a lot of data and the ability to compute things within a tractable timeframe.)
- Ability to read about a particular field/problem and to break it down into formal concepts