This is the personal website of Dominic Widdows. It contains a range
of music, poetry, science, historical and political ramblings, links
to other information that I've found useful, and probably in the
fullness of time, much more. Some of the material (papers in
particular) was available for a long time on webpages at Stanford's
CSLI, MAYA Design, and Google, and also on a weblog with very sporadic
contributions over the years.
Professionally speaking I'm a mathematician / linguist / computer
science sort of person, and so I work as a software engineer for the
Microsoft Bing Local Search team. (It all makes sense, really.) Once
upon a time, I thought that "Puttypeg" was a sweet name for an
approach to life and learning that tried to grow as flexibly as
possible. It's said that "you can't put a square peg in a round hole",
and nowadays the challenges in the world are changing so fast, we will
need some very adaptible people to fit into whatever gaps need
attention. So, don't try and be a square peg or a round peg the whole
time, try to learn to be a putty peg and look for ways to make
yourself and your skills useful wherever you're needed
most. Generally, I still like the idea.
Needless to say, none of the material you'll read on this website
represents the official standpoint of Microsoft, Google, MAYA Design,
Stanford, Oxford, Khafif, the BBC, the Church of England, Bourbaki, or
anyone else with a shred of organizational clout.
The work of the Quantum Informatics community made the front cover of New Scientist! Woohoo and thanks to all my
wonderful collaborators in this field. Please check out the
new Quantum Interaction
website (and tell me to update it more diligently!).
Lots of contributions can be found in
this reasonably complete list of papers. Not
all as readable as I'd have liked!
Here's a new topic: Contextual
Arithmetics. I'm becoming somewhat obsessed by this topic, though
in spite of all the pratical, historical and even theoretical
arguments in its favour, I suspect the whole thing will either be
ignored for several decades or seen as utterly crackpot.
Often I prefer writing about science when I don't need to worry about
reviewers and official publication at all. One early example was this
animated introduction to the Theory of
Relativity, one of the many things I'd love to complete one day.
My most important scientific work to date is Geometry and Meaning. For
once, I had the chance to please everyone, including myself —
many general readers have written to me or reviewed the book saing
they enjoyed it thoroughly, while several professionals reviewers
praised the book in important journals.
- Sky Map for
Android. The Android planetarium app is now open source
project! You can still find out about the product on the
Google Sky Map
site. It's a free mobile application for the Android platform that
uses your phone's sensors to display a map of the stars the phone is
pointing at (even if your roof, clouds, or the earth is in the way!).
Vectors, a package for creating semantic models: learning the
meanings of words and documents from reading lots of free
text. created in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh. Now
mature and prospering, with contributions from several individuals and
package, a forerunner of Semantic Vectors created in
conjunction with Stanford University.
A collection of a few essays on different
topics, including healthcare, politics, and religion.
You'll find a couple of songs and some useful
guitar chord sheets.
Some musical fun I'm having at the moment is playing the trumpet with
Khafif, a terrific Middle Eastern
and Balkan music and dance group.
Another collaborator in Pittburgh is Brent Malin, who I've been
playing a variety of folk and country with for a couple of years,
including a guitar and mandolin duo at Club Cafe.
Arts and Crafts
Software development and academic research are enjoyable in their way,
but there is nothing I find more satisfying than working with my
hands. We're currently most of the way through restoring the ground
floor of our Tudor style house in Squirrel Hill, and have made
furniture, curtains, laid wood floor, panelled and finished the
rooms. I always mean to take pictures of these projects before and
during and after, and mean to post them online. But give me a circular
saw to play with and I won't touch a computer all day.
One project I did keep a good record of was when Maryl and I made our
Here are a couple of poems.
We've also recently started a Pittsburgh poetry group
at work. It evolved accidentally into a collaborative process: the
players contribute a topic idea each, and then we go off for a few
days and write a poem, somehow including at least three or four of the
topics. The challenge of combining other people's ideas into a new
poem has brought out some great variety and creativity.
I keep an occasional weblog for a couple of years called Home Brewed
Bulletins, which you can read at puttypeg.blogspot.com.
Kit's Funeral, December 2007
My father Kit is still ever-present for many of us, and
crops up unexectedly at times for many more. Information about the
Funeral and Thanksgiving Service for the Life of Kit Widdows can be
found at http://www.puttypeg.net/kit.
You can contact me with any feedback or suggestions by writing to
dwiddows at gmail dot com.
(Please supply the usual symbols instead of the 'at' and 'dot' - the cryptic notation is just a token gesture to avoid getting the address harvested by spam engines.)