This magical time of the year, Simon’s craziest, most daring dreams come true! First, his guru from the New York University Daniel Shiffman sends Simon his book and the words he writes there are the most beautiful words anyone has ever told him. Then, on the last day of the awesome year 2017, Simon’s other hero, the glamorous knight of AI Siraj Raval materialises in our living room, directly from YouTube! Happy New Year full of miracles and discoveries everyone!
Daniel Shiffman’s book “The Nature of Code” that Simon had already largely read online and now also reads before bed. It also comforted him recently when he was in pain, he cuddled up of the sofa with this big friendly tome on his lap.
Daniel Shiffman signed the book for Simon:
Siraj Raval stepped out of the YouTube screen straight into our Antwerp apartment on December 31. Simon has been following Siraj’s channel for months, learning about the types of neural networks and the math behind machine learning. It is thanks to Siraj’s explanations that Simon has been able to build his first neural nets :
Overheard the kids talking to each other (in Russian):
Neva: Simon, I do understand what infinity is! But which number comes just before infinity?
Simon: Infinity minus x equals infinity!
Simon told me today he was ready to start building his own DAE (Denoising Auto Encoder) neural network. He said he would be using a documentation page about a machine learning library called Keras at blog.keras.io/building-autoencoders-in-keras.html. He found this documentation page completely on his own, by searching the web and digging into Python fora. I just watch him google something like “How can I install Keras 1.0?” and find GitHub discussions on the subject that guide him along. Or I see him type “How to install Python on Windows?” and follow the instructions at How-to-Geek. Eventually, he came up with a list of steps that he needed to complete in order to be able to install Keras (installing Python 3 (looking up why it should be 3 and not 2), installing PIP, installing Tensor Flow, etc). It didn’t work on a mac laptop, so he tried everything on a pc and it worked! Two steps required that he used terminal. It was amazing to see him plan ahead, search and implement (notoriously difficult) steps completely independently.
He has started working on the DAE tonight. Working on a node package that makes `manifest.json` files (for Chrome extensions) at the same time, so not sure he’ll finish soon. “Mom, I’ve got so many things to do! There are so many thoughts in my head!”
Simon loves looking at things geometrically. Even when solving word problems, he tends to see them as a graph. And naturally, since he started doing more math related to machine learning, graphs have occupied an even larger portion of his brain! Below are his notes in Microsoft Paint today (from memory):
Slope of Line:
Steepness of Curve:
An awesome calculator Simon discovered online at desmos.com/calculator that allows you to make mobile and static graphs:
Yesterday’s notes on the chi function (something he learned through 3Blue1Brown‘s videos on Taylor polynomials):
Simon following The Math of Intelligence course by Siraj Raval:
Here is Simon playing à quatre mains with his little sis, something he loves doing since she started piano lessons. She is not very keen on taking instructions, which upsets Simon enormously at times, but once they find the right tempo together, our whole world fills up with most beautiful vibes, making their loving friendship even more special.
This is how happy a child can be while taking a class:
Simon usually doesn’t like going places that much, but the trip to the Atomium in Brussels was a huge success, largely thanks to the Magritte exhibition hosted there at the moment. Simon liked the absurdity of Magritte’s juxtapositions and the idea that every object hides something else (behind it) from our sight. He kept talking about the meaning of the works as if he were a guide or a vlogger. The exhibition was very child friendly, everything was touchable and every painting was played with in a different manner.
Simon is best friends with his little sis (who has just turned 6). He teaches her to make molecules
and she teaches him to play hopscotch
and to enjoy a walk in the evening
and to play together like kids do, including role-play (which Simon has finally mastered)
and he teaches her the tables of addition
and she teaches him to play outside
and he teaches her spatial orientation and more addition and subtraction with Magformers elements.
I often hear them say “I love you” to each other. Sometimes they talk about how things will be when they become old, really old. “I will probably die earlier than you,” – Simon said. “Because I’m two years older”. – “No, Simon, it doesn’t work that way”, – she answers. “Maybe not then. Maybe people won’t die anymore. Maybe there will be something left of me”.
There’s been a lot of drawing going on here lately. And jokes, like in the video above. Yesterday, after he got distracted while trying to draw the exact tangent of a circle, Simon said: “I went off on another tangent. To find a tangent!”