PROFiles: Professor Darryl Yong

As part of our alumni professor feature series, Alma Mudders, we interviewed HMC mathematics professor Darryl Yong ’96.

Q: Which dorm(s) did you live in?
A: Case.

Q: Did the Muddraker exist when you were a student here? 
A: Nope!

Q: What were your extracurriculars at Mudd?
A: I also finished a piano performance major while at Mudd so I kept pretty busy with that.  I started playing the piano when I was 5 but then stopped taking lessons when my family moved from Singapore to California when I was 10.  When I got to college, I really missed playing the piano and decided to take it up again.  So, much of my free time was spent on music.

Q: What was your biggest regret at Mudd during your undergrad?
A: My greatest regret is that I didn’t branch out more during that time.  I liked math/CS and music and basically did as much as I could in those areas.  But, I didn’t take more courses in art history or linguistics or Asian American studies.  I learned much later that I enjoyed learning about lots of other things, and I could have expanded my horizons more. But, the truth is that we can never know these things except through hindsights and that overall I had a really amazing time at Mudd.  I hear current students say that the community is what keeps them here at Mudd and that was definitely true for me too.

Q: What’s the biggest change between Mudd when you were an undergrad and now?
A: It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have almost an equal number of male and female students at Mudd these days.  I suspect that is the reason why we no longer regularly have male students going to class wearing just a bathrobe and the general level of personal hygiene and care is way higher than in the past.  It’s also wonderful to have a much more diverse (among many axes, such as race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation) groups of student and faculty.

Q: What’s your secret talent?
A: I have a secret talent for playing video games subversively (a.k.a. cheating).  Strangely, the joy I derive from hacking around things is greater than playing the game itself.  A good example of this is the game Strata that came out a few years ago — it’s a puzzle game where you have to lay down colored ribbons to match a pattern.  Instead of playing it like a normal person, I wrote computer program that would capture screenshots of the game on my phone via adb (Android debug bridge), solve the puzzle algorithmically, then issue the correct set of screen taps to my phone to solve the puzzle.  My twisted logic was that the number of hours I spent writing that program was less than the number of hours I would have spent solving all the puzzles so this it was a net savings in time.

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