Writing prompt #6

Imagine you are someone’s shadow for a day.

A friend of mine told me, that her boyfriend was acting weird, lately. She asked me to keep him under surveillance for today.
Great, no I have to follow him without being seen. Why didn‘t I talk her out of this idea? Her boyfriend is a good guy, I‘m sure he isn‘t up to something bad.
This whole situation is ridiculous.
He seems to have arrived at his destination. A jewelry store. Huh. He is examining expensive looking rings.

Shit, he is coming out of the store! I‘ll just turn away, look at the exhibits in the window and hope he doesn‘t recognize me.
Phew, it worked somehow. That was close.
Where is he heading now? Seems to be the same route he took here. Is he just going home?

Oh god. He is just going to propose to her, isn‘t he? He told me a few months ago that he plans to do that soonish.
Well, fuck. What to I tell her? I can‘t spoil the surprise!
I should have just talked her out of that stupid idea.


I’m not really happy with the ending and a few other bits. It’s still far better than what I wrote for prompt #5, which I’m probably not going to upload.


The 90s of the last century were marked by the invention of quantum algorithms, like the one by P. W. Shor, which is used for factorization of integers, or the algorithm for fast database searches by L. K. Grover. Those algorithms can be used to crack widespread cryptographic systems like RSA, which relies on the difficulty of the factorization of big numbers.

If classic cryptographic systems are cracked, all past and future communication using those systems is compromised. Quantum encryption solves this problem, as it can only be successfully attacked in real time. For its implementation, quantum key distribution systems are needed.

This paper surveys the state of the art of quantum key distribution systems as well as their properties.


Can I use acronyms like RSA? It stands for “Rivest, Shamir und Adleman”, which sounds kind of silly in the middle of a sentence.

Author: Elizier Yudkowsky (Less Wrong)

A few years ago, friends of mine suggested „Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality“ (HPMOR) by Elizier Yudkowski (Less Wrong) to me.

This is a story set in the world of Harry Potter, but with a few major changes. Harry’s aunt did not marry Vernon Dursley, but instead Michael Verres-Evans, a professor at Oxford. Additionally, Harry is highly intelligent and learned about the scientific method early in his life.
In Hogwarts, he is, together with Hermine, assigned to Ravenclaw. As soon as he hears anything about Quidditich, he points out how strange and even silly some rules of that game are. He doesn’t get along with Ron, but instead with Draco Malfoy.
Soon Harry takes on two quests: To teach Malfoy about science as well as rational thinking and to discover how magic works on a physical level.

This is a really fascinating and exciting read with clever dialogues and interesting facts about physics, mathematics and psychology (a lot about different biases and other flaws in human thinking).

There is another work by Less Wrong, but I didn’t get around to reading it, yet. It is called “Rationality – From AI to Zombies”. It started out as a series of blog posts, called “sequences” about different topics of rational thinking. The few pages I already read made a great impression. I am looking forward to read the rest of it. 🙂


Writing Prompt #4

What would you do now if you wouldn’t have to attend this class?

There are a lot of possibilities. The weather is nice and my flatmate and I planned to go swimming later in the day. If he is at home right now and doesn’t have to go anywhere in the next hours, we would probably use the next tram to get to Buckau so we could go to Salbker See.

If he wasn’t there, I would perhaps want to play a game on my PC or read a book. However, I didn’t sleep much this night, which means that I would probably idle a bit or do something relaxing, like just listening to music, before deciding to take a nap.

If I felt motivated as I arrived home, I would tackle my to-do list, or at least parts of it.

Punctuation Game

We live in the era of Big Data with storage and transmission capacity measured not just in terabytes but in petabytes (where peta- denotes a quadrillion or a thousand trillion). Data collection is constant and even insidious, with every click and every “like” stored somewhere for something. This book reminds us that data is anything but “raw”; that we shouldn’t think of data as a natural resource but as a cultural one that needs to be generated protected and interpreted. The book’s essays describe eight episodes in the history of data – from the predigital to the digital. Together they address such issues as the ways that different kinds of data and different domains of inquiry are mutually defining how data are variously “cooked” in the processes of their collection and use and conflicts over what can or can’t be “reduced” to data. Contributors discuss the intellectual history of data as a concept, describe early financial modeling and some unusual sources for astronomical data, discover the prehistory of the database in newspaper clippings and index cards and consider contemporary “dataveillance” of our online habits as well as the complexity of scientific data curation.

During succession ecosystem development occurs, but in the long term absence of catastrophic disturbance a decline phase eventually follows. We studied six long term chronosequences in Australia, Sweden, Alaska, Hawaii and New Zealand; for each the decline phase was associated with a reduction in tree basal area and an increase in the substrate nitrogen to phosphorus ratio, indicating increasing phosphorus limitation, over time. These changes were often associated with reductions in litter decomposition rates, phosphorus release from litter and biomass and activity of decomposer microbes. Our findings suggest that the maximal biomass phase reached during succession cannot be maintained in the long term absence of major disturbance and that similar patterns of decline occur in forested ecosystems spanning the tropical temperate and boreal zones.

Facebook’s Graph API is an API for accessing objects and connections in Facebook’s social graph. To give some idea of the enormity of the social graph underlying Facebook, it was recently announced that Facebook has 901 million users and the social graph consists of many types beyond just users. Until recently the Graph API provided data to applications in only a JSON format. In 2011 an effort was undertaken to provide the same data in a semantically enriched RDF format containing Linked Data URIs. This was achieved by implementing a flexible and robust translation of the JSON output to a Turtle output. This paper describes the associated design decisions, the resulting Linked Data for objects in the social graph and known issues.



I finished this assignment on thursday morning. I’m sorry, I only uploaded it now. Btw, this was really hard.


Lo, H. K., Spiller, T., & Popescu, S. (1998). Introduction to quantum computation and information. World Scientific.

This book explains to basics of quantum mechanics and of quantum computation in a easy understandable manner. Really useful if you are new to the topic and a suprisingly good read.


Bernstein, D. J., Buchmann, J., & Dahmen, E. (Eds.). (2009). Post-quantum cryptography. Springer Science & Business Media.

This book explains which encryption algorithms can be cracked by quantum computation. Also it discusses which algorithms could be used instead.


Shor, P. W. (1999). Polynomial-time algorithms for prime factorization and discrete logarithms on a quantum computer. SIAM review, 41(2), 303-332.

This is the paper in which Shor proposed his algorithm. It is one of two very important algorithms in quantum computation, which is reflected in 5,702 citations. The algorithm can factorize integers far faster than algorithms that run on classical computers which is why quantum computers will be really good at cracking RSA encryption (and a few others).


Grover, L. K. (1996, July). A fast quantum mechanical algorithm for database search. In Proceedings of the twenty-eighth annual ACM symposium on Theory of computing (pp. 212-219). ACM.

This is the paper in which Grover’s algorithm, the other really important one, was proposed. The algorithm is far faster at finding certain entries in lists or databases than any conventional algorithm.
The paper was cited 3522 times.


Gottesman, D., & Lo, H. K. (2001). From quantum cheating to quantum security. arXiv preprint quant-ph/0111100.

This paper explains why both algorithms are dangerous to certain encryption techniques. It was only cited 59 times(not much in comparison to the others), but all papers by the same author I came across seem trustworthy. Also he is one of the co-authors of the book I mentioned first, which was cited 347 times and made a positive impression on me.


I found a few other books and papers but I barely skimmed most of them. I didn’t even finish everything I mentioned (two technical books and three longish papers take a bit of time to read), so I have much to read.

It is possible, that I will leave some of the topics covered by the papers and books above out. But I am new to this topic so everything mentioned above is interesting and could prove useful later.