### Random numbers in , adaptive integration and properties of lasers.

I finally got help in solving a problem I was having with generating random generators in C, using the standard function rand(). Apparently, srand48() also does the same job as rand() does and does it better even but I wanted to get my code working with rand() in the first place. Calling rand() returns a random large integer and I needed to convert it to a float between (0,1). RAND_MAX is defined as the largest random number that the system can generate. I knew that I had to divide the output of rand() by RAND_MAX and after a bit of juggling things around, I finally got it working. The relevant code is an implementation of the one I've written earlier in python ad fortran to estimate the value of pi using monte carlo integration. The numerical methods lab in the afternoon had us implementing an adaptive integration method that would choose step size depending on the error and increase or decrease it accordingly if our new estimate was correspondingly better or worse than the prior one. I hacked together an ugly code based on an ugly method to solve the problem, which I am not at all happy with. And I wasn't able to implement the solution told to us, nor was I able to implement how I understood the problem. And further, I would also like to implement this in fortran and python I need to get my ass moving if I want to clean shop by the weekend.

Finally, I made one more visualization on how the modes supported by a laser medium+cavity vary depending on the cavity length and on the properties of the medium. A crude hack that varies the center of the gain function, modeled as a gaussian, and the bandwidth of the gain function, while showing the cavity modes was put together, on an ipython notebook, using ipywidgets, matplotlib and numpy. I need to add a cavity length dependence on the mode spacing of the laser cavity and I need to get numbers for the gain function's center and bandwidth for a real system. Weekend ahoy!

### Animation using GNUPlot

Animation using GNUPlotI've been trying to create an animation depicting a quasar spectrum moving across the 5 SDSS pass bands with respect to redshift. It is important to visualise what emission lines are moving in and out of bands to be able to understand the color-redshift plots and the changes in it.
I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

### on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

### On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.

I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…