Welcome to  Peter's Homepage, Pilgrim!

The concept of a personal website is the ultimate expression of one's vanity. It is a noise... a confusion... an agony of egotistical fits. This page is no different. I'd like to think that anybody who pokes around will learn a bit about what makes me tick. Of course, I'm much more than a bunch of HTML and image files; you can't really sum a person up on paper, metaphorical or otherwise. But at least you'll have some idea of who Peter Jay Salzman is.

Work and Finance

I worked for an awesome Canadian company named Algorithmics which specialized in risk assessment, management, and mitigation for various investment banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies. We were bought by IBM a few years ago, so ATM I'm an IBM employee. I specialize in market risk of interest rate derivatives and mortgage bonds, although my beginnings and first true love is valuations of structured bonds, especially residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS).

When I made the transition from math professor to a Wall Street quantitative analyst, my salary literally doubled. In 2010, my salary tripled from the professor level. Sickening, I know, but I'm not going to complain. I work as a Lead Financial Engineer with impossibly brilliant people who are very good at (and love) what they do. Financial services is extremely challenging work, which keeps my interest piqued. Each day is a challenge.

Physics and Science

I received my Ph.D. in theoretical physics from University of California at Davis. My thesis advisor, Steven Carlip, is well known in quantum gravity circles. My dissertation research involved investigating the time dependent Schrodinger-Newton equation as a possible:

  1. explanation of why macroscopic objects are not observed to be be in quantum superpositions.
  2. test of the semi-classical theory of quantum gravity.

Gravitation is fucking awesome. We talk about time travel, causality, paradoxes, frame dragging, black holes, alternate universes, white holes, non Euclidean geometry, worm holes, warp drive... Gravitational physics rocks. I studied the things that Captains Kirk, Piccard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer had to worry about on a day to day basis.

Sometimes I believe that physics will be able to answer the how and why nature works. Other times I think that being able to describe nature with man made tools is an act of hubris, and that physics will be a never ending quest for more advanced models which give us nothing but predictive powers.

Linux and Computers

Tux

I'm a staunch Linux user, and am the founder and many time past president of The Linux Users' Group of Davis, LUGOD. I've written extensive Linux pages.

I've become proficient at LaTeX and Mathematica. In the 80's I used to be a computer hacker. I am addicted to computer games.

Meat Space

I know... I know... Work in progress. I've been keeping a dream diary ever since I was a little kid.

We are addicted to salsa dancing.

Blogging

I used to keep a "blog" back in 1998. I called it a "journal" since there was no word "blog" back then. In fact, I don't really know anybody who was keeping a public diary that long ago. Not that I was the first blogger, but there certainly weren't many people doing it back then. I eventually lost interest, however I became interested in writing blogging software: I wrote large sections of a really snazzy blog called Wheatblog.

Motorcycles and Cars

One of my primary joys in life is to ride my motorcycle, a Honda Magna V-65 named Bad Bones. It's an 1100cc V4 cylinder gargantuan whose its motto is "Brute force has an elegance all its own". If you're interested in my bike or some of my longer bike trips, you can peruse my motorcycle pages. I used to be active in a group of Magna/Sabre ryders, called SabMag, but took a hiatus to finish my dissertation and find a job.
I used to have a gorgeous Datsun 280ZX, and wrote some web pages about it, but got rid of it when the reality of east coast winter set in: it's a completely impractical car for the east coast. I now drive a Hyundai Santa Fe, a very practical car, and somewhat fun to drive to boot.

Music

My life revolves around music. If rhythm is the soul of jazz, then I've got rhythm.

Mystery!

I'm a detective/spy story junkie and tear through mysteries. I'm absolutely enthralled by David Suchet's Hercule Poirot. I've watched all the James Bond movies and my friend Richard Garavuso got me hooked on the novels, as well. I enjoy Kellerman's "Peter and Rina" mysteries, Kemmelman's "Rabbi did X on Y" novels, and anything written by Lawrence Saunders. I live for PBS's Mystery! theater. I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, although I don't understand how anyone can think that Basil Rathbone's and Nigel Bruce's portrayal was anything other than garbage. My favorite portrayal of Holmes is by Rupert Everett. He was born to play Holmes (and Ian Hart was a phenomenal Watson, too!)

My Book is Published!

I have coauthored a popular book entitled "The Art of Debugging with GDB, DDD, and Eclipse", with my friend Norm Matloff who teaches CS at UC Davis (and has his own set of very useful webpages). I can't believe the book is finally done! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! It was almost as hard finishing this book as it was finishing my dissertation! ;-) The book is published by No Starch Press, and if I say so myself, is really the only good debugging book on the market. Everything I've seen pales in comparison.

I'm a member of American Mensa, which means I have a high IQ, but all that really means is that I'm very good at analogies, reasoning, and finding patterns. The truth is, I'm fairly absent minded and have an awful memory. Although my critical thinking is highly developed, I'm one of those people who can't hear and then recall a 7-digit phone number. Most people who know me are astonished at how well I've mastered many branches of mathematics, but how weak I am in arithmetic. My mind works on principles and reasoning. Anything involving rote memory leaks out of my ears. Consequently, I'm incapable of following directions while driving.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm still working on my webpage. I prolly will still be working on it 20 years from now.