Tag → MIT

Sharpies

As readers of this blog probably know, I am not an MITAdmissions blogger. It was kind of disappointing at the moment, but now I rarely think about it except when I come up with good reasons why I shouldn’t be an MITAdmissions blogger. One reason is that I am not very good at coming up with advice that could generalize to a wide audience, even an audience only as wide as people at or coming to the ‘Tvte. (There can be only one!) This by itself probably wouldn’t be so bad because there’s plenty of generalizable advice to go around, but I also don’t like repeating well-known stuff. Don’t skip class, except when you really know when you’re doing, which you probably think you do when you skip class. Get enough sleep, maintain good study habits, set aside time to keep up with old friends, back up your zarking data, alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, do not forget the factor of one-half when computing the area of a triangle. You get the picture.

There’s only one piece of advice I can say that I believe is generalizable to any degree, and in particular I think my past self would have appreciated and also had not heard, even in passing, from any other source: Get a Sharpie.

Puzzle 48 / Double Back

At least one person wants me to post. I’m not even going to try do a life summary. It’s too hard. Let’s just say:

  1. right now, my blog drafts contain a backlog of ~7500 words and counting;
  2. I was not accepted as an MIT Admissions blogger, which is bad because my blogging will continue to not reach a large audience, but good because my blogging will continue to not reach a large audience. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that, because the application form wouldn’t let me submit without any media, I panickedly cranked out the following puzzle in an hour or so to attach.

MIT Course Number Mnemonics

When I first realized it might be helpful to start trying to remember the correspondence between MIT courses and their numbers, I expected a list of mnemonics for this correspondence would be one of those Things That Should Exist On the Internet. I’m pretty surprised it doesn’t. I mean, MIT has, what, at least 100,000 alumni; as far as I know, nearly everybody who goes there speaks the number correspondence fluently, so they have to learn it; and the science of mnemonics has been with us since the ancient Greeks and people who understand its usefulness can’t be uncommon, especially not in such a prestigious institute of higher education.

What gives?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just that nobody has posted their mnemonic set on the Internet out of embarrassment? My mnemonics are pretty bad too, but hey, Cunningham’s Law — if you’re reading, feel free to add better ones in the comments, or to criticize my horribly unenlightened and stereotypical characterizations of your courses, to make this thing better. Or maybe it’s out of concern that nobody else will find it useful? I get that feeling but my streak compels me to ignore it now, as it has for the last dozen posts or so. Or maybe they just didn’t optimize for search engine findability, so I can’t find it? I hope this post fixes that.

Actually, I guess the most likely reason is that maybe most people don’t actually have all the course numbers memorized with perfect recall, only the handful of most common ones they and their friends are in, and it’s perfectly fine to ask for clarification when an unknown number comes up in conversation, so nobody ever feels like they need to bother with mnemonics for every single course. Feels sensible to me.

But anyway, I’m not most people.


The most comprehensive resource of courses and numbers, including their history, appears to have once been at http://alumweb.mit.edu/clubs/sandiego/contents_courses.shtml. Many, many links point there. Unfortunately, it is dead and I cannot find its new home, if it has one. Fortunately, there is an archived version on archive.is; on the other hand, I am not sure whether any updates have occurred since it was archived. A more recent version with course populations from 2005 is this chart linked from the MIT Admissions blog post Numbers are names too.

2015 MIT Mystery Hunt

Well, it’s been over a week, which is a long time for blog posts to be delayed after the event they’re documenting in probably all of the world except my blog. So.

I guess this post should start with a bit of background. I’ve been puzzlehunting for… wow, three and a half years now. I was introduced to puzzlehunts from AoPS, when some fellow members got together a team for CiSRA 2011, and I think I’ve participated to some degree in every known internet Australian puzzlehunt since.

But as for my experience with the MIT Mystery Hunt in particular, I sort of hunted with a decidedly uncompetitive AoPS team in 2012 (I think we solved one puzzle exactly), but my serious hunting career began when dzaefn recruited me into the Random team (then Random Thymes) for the 2013 hunt (and I did blog obliquely about it). We didn’t win (and I actually didn’t participate that much because I was traveling with family) but the next year (as One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish (1f-2f-17f-255f (I am evidently in a parentheses mood today because as you’ve probably noticed, the amount and depth of parentheses in this sentence are positively alarming (lol)))) we won.

And I do have a half-written post about that which will never get posted (and I also didn’t participate that much, because my family was moving that weekend) but okay, let’s just drop any semblance of chronological coherence on this blog and dump a short version of the list of puzzles and parts towards which I contributed solving, as I wrote them down one year ago: