Später Alligator, Geil Crocodile

Shit, sheiße, putain, and taddi were the happy words I heard as I sat on the grass Saturday afternoon. They were the sounds of the German, French, Indian, and Chinese playing football together on the campus field (sorry if these offend others).

I, of course, do not play football, but after being cooped up in a stuffy lab all afternoon, I thought it would be a nice change to continue my work out in a more natural setting. I was reminded, however, of how lucky I am to again be a part of the university bubble.

In the short time I have been here, I have made friends in the most unlikely places. From a group of geeky PhDs from MPI, to the crowd of clever Chinese students I have dinner with in the mensa, all the way to the gang of Indians and Pakistanis who made me chai, my life has been made richer by every one of them.

It is certainly their friendliness, but perhaps it is also their humor. Sprinkle in some non-native German speaking abilities, a quirky foreign accent, a dash of geekiness, and, due to the unexpectedness of a witty reply, often I am just stunned into laughter:

Me (to my Indian friend): “Did you know you can’t move the tables in the mensa because the university spent their cultural grant on it, so now the way they are positioned is considered art?”
Sikander: “No-oo! Come on, you are farsching me!”
|__ verarsching –> verarschen –> to fool

Me (to my Chinese friend): “My favorite thing is to curl up in bed with my laptop and code..”
Tianxiang: “Ah, you mean embedded com-pu-ting!”

Me (to another Chinese friend): “Mars tells me that you’re quite the playboy and that you skipped our party for a girl!”
Fu Yu (to Mars): “??/??..”
Me (to Mars): “Hey, what’d he say?”
Mars: “He says I should just broadcast it over a distributed network.”

If there was a unicorn in the world, life would be more beautiful

Meta-theorem 22:
The morphology of our world implies that if there is a unicorn, life would be more beautiful, iff the union of our morphology and the statement ‘there is a unicorn’ also implies that ‘life would be more beautiful’.


  1. Assume ? ? ‘there is a unicorn’ ? ‘life is more beautiful’.
  2. Then we know that every valuation that simultaneously satisfies ?, also satisfies ‘there is a unicorn’ ? ‘life is more beautiful’.
  3. For every valuation which simultaneously satisfies ?, it must be the case that V(‘there is a unicorn’)=F or V(‘life is more beautiful’)=T.
  4. Assume ? ? {‘there is a unicorn’} ? ‘life is more beautiful’
  5. Then there must be a V such that ? ? {‘there is a unicorn’} is simultaneously satisfied, but V'(‘life is more beautiful’)=F and V'(‘there is a unicorn’)=T.
  6. However, this is a contradiction to line 3, hence:
  7. ? ? {‘there is a unicorn’} ? ‘life is more beautiful’

  9. Now assume ? ? {‘there is a unicorn’} ? ‘life is more beautiful’.
  10. Then we know that every valuation which simultaneously satisfies ? ? {‘there is a unicorn’}, also satisfies ‘life is more beautiful’.
  11. It must be the case that V(‘life is more beautiful’)=T or ? ? {‘there is a unicorn’} is not simultaneously satisfiable, such that V(‘there is a unicorn’)=F.
  12. Assume that ? ? ‘there is a unicorn’ ? ‘life is more beautiful’.
  13. Then there is a valuation V’ that simultaneously satisfies Γ, such that V'(‘there is a unicorn’ ? ‘life is more beautiful’)=F.
  14. Then it must be the case that V'(‘there is a unicorn’)=T or V'(‘life is more beautiful’)=F.
  15. However, this is a contradiction to line 10, hence:
  16. ? ? ‘there is a unicorn’ ? ‘life is more beautiful’

If I would be a linguist, I would speak wery vell…

I talked to my parents the other evening for the first time in many months. They again had to ask me twenty questions to try and understand what it is I am studying. My poor little parents. When people ask them what their eldest daughter is up to, they reply, “Oh, she is off in Germany doing a masters program in… uh… language.” Those people then smile to themselves, picturing yet another liberal arts female throwing away money on a frou-frou humanities degree.

So how is one to explain to one’s mother support vector machines or linear regression or kernel methods or how one would shatter data in the most efficient way possible?

My mom was trying to convince me that the term ‘algorithm’ had become a buzz word in California, attributable no doubt to Ask.com’s ridiculous advertising campaign to get one up on Google. I thought I would mention some of the buzz words cropping up in my little circle. Most of these are due to the fact that non-native English speakers have a tendency to pronounce words in a deliciously amusing way.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Algorithm => Al-gore-ithm
  • The unique solution => The eunuch solution
  • Vague and available => wake and awailable

And of course, the worst mistake of all which most every German makes and is the title of this post, wherein the conditional is put in the if-clause… I am not helping things by writing that in a post. Because by validating that expression in text on the internet, I am making my future work that much more difficult. After all, everyone knows that ‘the the the’ is ungrammatical. However, I just now wrote it. And if I wanted to generate grammatical English rules on the fly by parsing huge amounts of text on the internet… well, I can see that my work is cut out for me.