When I was 15 my family moved to Japan for my dad's job. I went to an American high school in Tokyo for 10th through 12th grades, then stayed in Japan for an extra year (Europeans would call it a "gap year") studying Japanese and working for a Japanese electronics company. Here is one of the ways I spent my time that year.
Then I spent four undergrad years at Princeton. I majored in physics and studied electrical engineering and Chinese.
After college, I took a job as an RF integrated circuit designer with Lucent Technologies Microelectronics in Tokyo. My job was 75% circuit design and 25% field-application-engineering support for industrial customers of Lucent's DSP and baseband IC products.
After two years with Lucent in Tokyo, I transferred back stateside to Lucent's IC research division in Murray Hill, NJ. Now my job was 100% circuit design. This, this, and this are among the ways I spent my time during this interval.
After a further two years with Lucent in New Jersey and in Allentown, PA, I went to physics grad school at MIT. I spent my first 2.5 years in an experimental condensed matter group doing cryogenic studies of two-dimensional electron-gas samples, then switched to theoretical/computational studies, working with Jacob White and Steven Johnson. My PhD (2011) was on numerical methods for computing Casimir interactions, for which I developed the open-source scuff-em suite for boundary-element modeling of electromagnetism problems.
Since 2012 I have been an instructor in the math department at MIT. I have taught differential equations and numerical analysis, for which I developed an original curriculum.
My research interests include (1) my thesis and postdoctoral work on computational electromagnetism and QED, (2) computational chemistry, and particularly the application of techniques from lattice gauge theory and nuclear (shell-model) physics to quantum chemistry problems, (3) computational nonlinear algebra, including resultants, Groebner bases, tensor eigenvalues, and numerical techniques for solving nonlinear systems of equations.
My hobbies include Japanese translation, guitar, and piano. In particular, I love the particular timbral combination of slightly overdriven guitar with Fender Rhodes piano (think Jeff Beck and Max Middleton on Blow by Blow, or Herbie Hancock and Paul Jackson on Headhunters), and I am convinced that there exists a brilliant and as-yet unrealized opportunity to record various beautiful 18th-century chamber pieces in such an ensemble. I am thinking particularly of Mozart violin-and-piano sonatas and/or Bach flute-and-cembalo sonatas.
|I was born in Washington, DC on August 16th, 1975, a date of little historical significance at the time, but one destined to live in rock 'n roll infamy after Elvis Presley, suddenly finding the world crowded with me around, died two years later on August 16th, 1977. I lived in Washington for 6 years and began my schooling at Hearst Elementary School, around which time I looked something like this. You can see why Elvis was worried, not.|
|When I was halfway through first grade at Hearst, my family moved to Castle Rock, Colorado, where I finished up first grade and attended the second grade at South Elementary school. Before long, however, we moved again--back to Washington D.C. this time, where I attended the third grade at Murch Elementary School. In those days I looked something like this.|
After I finished 3rd grade at Murch, we moved back to Castle Rock,
Colorado, where I resumed my studies at South Elementary School, and
then moved on to Castle Rock Junior High School, where I attended grades
7, 8 and 9. I think of these years as the beginning of my formative
years, and to this day I consider myself a Coloradan, even
though I wasn't born in Colorado and lived there just over a third of my
I learned a lot of things during these years in Colorado: how to play tennis, how to play the french horn, how to serve as Senior Patrol Leader for a bunch of wide-eyed young Boy Scouts, how to keep every inch of my body covered on frigid winter camping expeditions, how to snowboard, and more. Perhaps most importantly, I learned to shovel snow, and to do it photogenically as well.
|The real watershed in my adolescent career came just before I turned 15, when my family moved from Castle Rock to Tokyo, Japan and stayed there until after I graduated from high school. As if being 15 weren't already confusing enough, suddenly I found myself a stranger in a strange land with a strange language and even stranger food. Maybe the strangest part was the sheer size of the place--a conservative estimate would be to say there were 5,000 people in Tokyo for every one person in Castle Rock--and at first it felt like they all lived on our block. Needless to say, I found this all somewhat disorienting, and spent a lot of time walking around squinting--even at my own mother, who found it so amusing she snapped this picture of me.|
But, as time went on, Japan started to make more and more sense (or,
perhaps more accurately, my concept of "making sense" became less and
less ethnocentrically Western) and I actually started to enjoy life
there. What really did it for me was learning to speak the language,
because as my Japanese got better and better I was more and more able to
figure out what people were thinking and to feel more or less like I fit
in--on the surface--if not on any deeper level.
Besides the language, I gradually came to appreciate life in so bustling, crowded, distracting, energetic and fun a city as Tokyo. I learned how to get around on the subways. I started to like Japanese food and Japanese pop music. In later years I even developed a bizarre fascination with traditional Japanese folk drama costumes, although fortunately my time in Japan expired before my habit got too far out of control.
Completely independent of the whole Japan thing, some of the other
important things in my life now developed while I was in high school.
For one thing, I became obsessed with playing rock'n roll guitar, and
started forming bands left and right. In this capacity I performed in
a couple of rock'n roll band competitions, invariably placing last since
I could never assemble a full complement of musicians and my drum
machine kept losing points on "stage presence" and "charisma."
An offshoot of this was that I picked up some classical guitar as well, eventually performing in some classical music competitions. In these I fared slightly better than I did in the Battles of the Bands, since they didn't care so much about charisma (although I usually left my drum machine at home just to be safe).
|I think the richest component of my high school musical experience was playing the electric bass in my high school Jazz Band, which I absolutely loved. I loved cranking out those deep, bluesy bass lines and feeling like the rythmic foundation of the band. Whenever our band performed, our instructor, Mr. Nichols, had us wear long black hapi coats with Japanese characters inscribed on the back. Our band was so hip!|
|except to say that I learned a lot of things, including how to elicit great whooping guffaws from my good buddies Aman and Trevor,|
||One of the more dubious achievements of my college years, hatched perhaps out of some subconscious yearning to inspire a future great American novel, was a powerful and insidious obsession I developed with an ultimately futile pursuit, what I might term an Ahab complex, except that along the way I seem to have gotten my nouns mixed up and become fascinated, not with whales, but with a great white book. Somehow in my junior year I became just absolutely ravenously curious about this incredibly exciting and beguiling field, and I bought the standard text and tried endlessly on my own to decipher the dense mess of pictures and diagrams and hieroglyphics between its covers, never to any avail, but with each failed attempt only furthering my sense that I just absolutely had to understand this stuff. It became a sort of constant background nemesis in my life, a burr in my side, a dark, shadowy presence chortling derisively from the sidelines at my every accomplishment--sure, easy enough, now let's see you do some field theory! mwahahahaha!-- and, although I set it aside at the end of college, I think I knew even then that my inability even to penetrate the subject to any depth would cast a pall of ominous portent over my life until I eventually returned to defeat it. I probably also knew then that I had a tendency to use italics too often.|
|But after college I managed to escape the call of the Great White Book for long enough to take a job, as an RF and analog integrated circuit designer, in Japan, with Lucent Technologies Microelectronics. This was great fun. What a wonderful, delightful time in my life this was. I met some great people, learned how to design ICs, and brushed up my Japanese, all against the backdrop of the endlessly captivating exotic bustling landscape of Tokyo. The only drawback was that whenever I tried to sneak into local houses of worship the natives would come running up and whisk me off by the arm before I got beyond the veranda.|
|So I eventually quit Japan and took up a comfortable sinecure in a place where they were happy to let me visit their local places of worship and even their rulers' ancestral tombs. Hell, I don't even think they noticed me in this place, being altogether too busy ordering each other around and haggling with each other over the prices of train tickets and the proper procedures for procuring same. I did, however, have to keep wearing my collar up James Dean-style to avoid profound sunburn on the back of the neck. Also note earnest attempt at Dick-Cheney-esque sneer.|
|Meanwhile, along the way I was at least wise enough to acquire two ravishing sisters, Kate (left) and Erin, whom I will be happy to furnish to the highest-dowry bidder, provided only that said suitor (1) express full agreement with all opinions and viewpoints I may have including but not limited to those expressed on this website, (2) be prepared to fork over 50% of all earnings from all forms of employment hitherto and forthwith, said rate to rise to 90% if suitor is an investment banker, is a hedge-fund manager, or is otherwise engaged in the shell-gaming professions, (3) provide suitable and acceptable answers to a brief 173-page questionnaire I have prepared to assess the worthiness of potential brothers-in-law, and (4) take all other steps necessary and sufficient to demonstrate complete and utter willingness to devote life and self to assurance and preservation of my happiness. Oh, and that of my sisters as well.|
|More recently, in my dotage, and at the conclusion of much zen soul-searching and many introspective journeys of self-discovery, I have decided that at the end of the day it's really all about basketball, and have optimized my life for maximal expenditure of time with some jedi kung-fu gurus of the sport.|
|So there is all you never wanted to know about my early life. Any questions? Write me at||.|
Homer Reid's Home Page, by Homer Reid
|Last Modified: 11/16/16|