Buck Shlegeris

I am a software engineer from Australia. I have lived in San Francisco for most of the last three years. I'm interested in data structures and effective altruism.

I work at Triplebyte.

I make fun music like this.

Background

I grew up in Townsville, Australia. After high school, I studied computer science and physics at the Australian National University for two years. At the end of 2013, I moved to San Francisco for App Academy. After the nine week course, App Academy offered me a job as a TA. I worked there until returning to Australia for university in June. You can read an interview I did about App Academy here. Somehow I managed to convince ANU that App Academy counted as a semester abroad, so I graduated with just one more semester of university.

After graduating, I moved back to SF; I worked for PayPal in Scala for most of a year, then left to work at Triplebyte.

Programming

Within computer science, my main interests are advanced data structures, programming language implementation, and functional programming.

I wrote a search engine for data structures and presented on it at Scala By The Bay 2016; you can read about it here. I presented on a similar project at Scala By The Bay 2015; you can see a video here.

I recently tried to exhaustively catalogue solutions to problems of the form “given a set of data structures, find the th smallest item in their union”. I love data structures which can be used to solve a wide variety of problems, such as augmented binary search trees. I hate interview questions like this one which use pseudo-algorithmic problems as an excuse to ask people useless brainteasers. I like thinking about algorithmic problems which result from taking simple games like Connect-4 and seeing what happens when you make them much larger. Occasionally my interest in polyamory crosses over with my interest in algorithms, with amusing results.

You can play this game which I made to practise relative pitch, or this game which I made to memorize the relationships between different types of functions in real analysis.

I recently worked with Michael Dickens on a quantitative model for cause prioritization. You can try the model here. This project started out entirely motivated by desire to estimate cost-effectiveness of different non-profits, and somehow ended up as the most interesting algorithm design problem which I’ve ever needed to solve for a practical purpose.

Music

I write songs and used to play them with my band Buck et al in Canberra.

Effective altruism

I’m a utilitarian and care a lot about making the world better.

Currently, I’m mostly trying to do good by earning to give. I don’t think that earning to give makes as much sense as I used to. I chose my current job partially because I’d have the opportunity to learn about lots of non-programming skills which will be useful after I finish up my earning-to-give programming career.

I’m involved with the effective altruism movement, which has sprung up in recent years around organizations like Giving What We Can (of which I am a member), GiveWell, and the Center for Effective Altruism. I regularly attend the Stanford effective altruism meetups.

In 2015, I was on a panel at EA Global in Mountain View. In 2016, I ran a workshop on advanced career planning for EA software engineers.

I wrote about the biggest effective altruism mistakes I made in 2014 and 2015 here.

My diet is vegan, except that I eat bivalves, but not minding occasional accidental consumption of dairy which happens incidentally.