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 1:35 pm    08/28/16

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Ali Mohammad
MIT CSAIL
32 Vassar St. #G494,
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617)452-5041
alawi@mit.edu

There are over 6.5 billion people on planet earth, right? You're very lucky; you're looking at the personal home page of the only Iraqi-born, Kansas-raised graduate student in computational linguistics at MIT. Who's special? You are. Welcome.

As you can see from my “business card” above, I'm a grad student at MIT. I'm working on my Ph.D. in computer science, specializing in natural language processing and working under the guiding force of Boris Katz. I did my master's here with Prof. Michael Collins.

“Alawi” is the diminutive, possessive form of the Arabic name “Ali”, and is a common nickname for Ali in some parts of Iraq. I'm not a member of the Shi'a sect called Alawi and I am not related to Iyad Allawi.

I'm from this little Iraqi village near the Syrian border called Rawa (see if you can find it on this 1970 Iraqi tourist map — it's on the Euphrates). I'm related (one way or another) to every Iraqi whose last name is “Al-Rawi”.

Unlike many residents of the Stata center (e.g., Percy), I have an office.

I'm a big fan of free software and the open source movement. I'm also a Linux junkie (most of my computers run Gentoo nowadays, but I like Debian a lot, too, and I'm starting to shift to Ubuntu!). I edit text files in Vim, typeset documents in LaTeX, edit pictures in the Gimp, play music in XMMS, browse the web in Firefox, and IM people in gaim. I spend the other half of my life in xterms.

Everyday coding should be done in Ruby or Python, the nicest languages I know of (Ruby is cleaner, but I'm still more comfortable with Python... old habits die hard). When you need to squeeze out every last bit of space or speed from your machine, code in Java or C. Web programming in PHP and Ruby on Rails is fun (CGI, ASP, Java servlets ... not fun!). I routinely write bash and awk scripts, and you should, too.

Whoa, I took an online test and was (whoa) proud of the results. The shame, the shame! I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!