Personal Canon

Inspired by Duncan Graham's canon, and transitively, by David Cole's, here is a list of people and works that have inspired me. Individually beautiful and interesting; together they make me who I am.

This is a work in progress.

Gödel, Escher, Bach -- This book (along with SICP, next) profoundly influenced my direction in life. Beautifully written and fascinating.

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (and Classical Mechanics) -- I somehow discovered SICP at around the same time as Gödel, Escher, Bach (must have found a list of classics online). The combined force of the two of them turned me on to Computer Science. Though it's an introductory book, it goes deep.

Epigram, NuPRL -- For shaping my view of how programming languages can and should work.

The HoTT book, Per Martin-Löf

Conor McBride, Simon Peyton-Jones

You and Your Research -- Richard Hamming

Richard Feynman -- For his tireless push to simplify and understand (then explain). "Surely you're Joking" is a template for living a good life while doing good, intellectual work. Also great: What Problems to Solve.

Bertrand Russell

John Carmack

Eliezer Yudkowsky, Slate Star Codex, Gwern Branwen -- A rationalist blogger power-trio. These three consistently make me rethink my point of view.

Bret Victor -- Inventing on Principle is a classic closely related to my interests, but it's just one example of consistenly great work from Bret.

Ben Kamens, Andy Matuschak, Ben Alpert, Craig Silverstein -- Enough people I've never met. These are some of the best engineers I've ever worked with, who each taught me something about making great software. I'm grateful for having learned from each of you.

Paypal mafia (Elon Musk, etc) -- Everyone knows about Elon Musk. Still, I think he's worth celebrating. I mean, the man made his fortune with Paypal only to turn right around and start three long-shot companies, all of which are successful today. One of which was formed "with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets". Fewer people know the PayPal Mafia -- this wildly ambitious and successful group who have transformed this planet, and soon others.

Maxwell's Equations / General Relativity / QED

Calvin & Hobbes -- My favorite comic ever. I think every reader saw themselves in Calvin, his imagination and refusal to follow the rules. Credit to Bill Watterson for creating consistently great content and ending the strip before the content ever got stale.

Asterios Polyp


Visual Complex Analysis -- This book takes an intimidating subject, tells you to ignore the equations and focus on the intuition. Wonderful visualizations. This is what I'm all about.

The Diamond Age