Patrick Doyle
Personal:  Interests

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music -- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
-- Henry Miller

I'd like to imagine that I have more interests than will fit on a single Web page. This ought to give you a sense of the kinds of things that interest me, but please don't go away thinking Well, clearly he cares nothing whatever about American canal development in the 1830's or How can he call himself well-read? He never mentioned Consolatio Philosophiae! just because I didn't mention them.


This is a difficult area to summarize; I've read widely, both geographically and temporally, since I was young, but my reading is eclectic and there are holes. I've read Thomas Paine's Age of Reason but not Salinger's Catcher in the Rye -- that sort of thing.

I'm most familiar with Western prose and poetry, from the Greeks through the 20th century. I'm especially interested in 9th-10th century Britain, Victorian England, 20th century America until about 1960, and fabulists or magic realists such as Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges.

The novel remains for me one of the few forms where we can record man's complexity and the strength and decency of his longings. Where we can describe, step by step, minute by minute, our not altogether unpleasant struggle to put ourselves into a viable and devout relationship to our beloved and mistaken world.
-- John Cheever

Many, if not most, of the volumes I have here in California are actually poetry -- Shakespeare, Donne, Keats, Shelly, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Frost, Robinson, Masters, William Carlos Williams, and Conrad Aiken, to name some -- and anthologies ranging from The Oxford Book of French Verse to The New Yorker Book of Poems to Yet More Comic Verse. I find that I read early 20th century poetry more often than the rest; I enjoy Robinson and Edgar Lee Masters especially.

There's a small but respectable shelf of prose, including Thornton Wilder, P. G. Wodehouse, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Henry James, George Eliot, Hardy, Dickens, Proust, Umberto Eco, and Annie Proulx. Most of my "great literature" is still back East in boxes; once I graduate and settle down I'll bring them out and then I can finally force my way through Ivanhoe and things like that. I highly recommend Thornton Wilder; if you ever read any of his books, it was probably the play Our Town. Go read Theophilus North.

When I'm not reading to improve myself, I enjoy fantasy and science fiction (of which I have many more examples here). Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Raymond Feist, David Eddings, Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, Terry Pratchett, Poul Anderson, Ursula LeGuin, and Jack Vance, among others. Of these, I like Jack Vance best. His Dying Earth and Lyonesse series are unique; nobody writes in the convoluted, arcane, witty way that Jack Vance does.


Of the hard sciences, I'm obviously interested in computer science. My research focuses on artificial intelligence, intelligent agents, believable agents, and human-computer interface issues. I'm also curious about evolutionary computing, the principles of software engineering, and the development of protocols used on the Web, such as HTTP and HTML. I design for and use the Web heavily, and I'm fascinated by where it's going, both in terms of interface and use.

I'm also keen on math, especially logic and number theory, though just because I like it doesn't mean I'm particularly good at it. Physics, especially particle physics and astrophysics, in the same way. Lighter reading on the science shelves includes Men of Mathematics, Gödel, Escher, Bach, The Mathematical Experience, and Time Travel and Papa Joe's Pipe (a collection of Alan Lightman's essays which I highly recommend).

Of the social sciences, I'm interested in history, psychology, and sociology. I've studied Greek, Roman, and medieval European history, and done a fair bit of reading on 19th century American history as well, especially the politics of the 1850's and the Civil War, and I've read rather a lot on the life and career of Abraham Lincoln.

A bizarre factoid about myself: if I could choose one day in the past to visit, I'd visit the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, on some quiet day in May of 1893.


I enjoy movies, plays, musicals, opera (serious or comedic; I love Gilbert and Sullivan), art galleries and museums of all sorts. I can talk reasonably intelligently about medieval armaments, Egyptian sarcophagi, French Impressionism, the excavations at Knossos, or the Bayeux tapestry.

[Art is...] A human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.
-- Leo Tolstoy

Some of my favorite artists are Vermeer, van Eyck, Nicholaes Maes, Monet, Gustave Dorè, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Maxfield Parrish, Magritte, and Escher. I generally enjoy art up through the 20th century, though I admit that most modern and contemporary art confuses me.

As for my own artistic skills, well...I play the piano (very badly), and I occasionally mess around with the concertina, the pennywhistle, and the banjo. Recently I've taken up drawing in the hopes of making the sticks in my stick figures more realistic.

I do watch some television; not a lot, but I enjoy Masterpiece Theater, Mystery!, The American Experience, Doctor Who, The X-Files, and The Simpsons. I'm even part of a Tuesday night group that gets together to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. De gustibus non est disputandum.


I grudgingly admit that there is life beyond academia. I enjoy walking, hiking, camping, canoeing...being in the outdoors in all of its slow-moving and not-potentially-lethal splendor. I enjoy games, both computer- and board-based, from RPGs to bridge and chess. I can't juggle but have wasted any number of hours trying.

I'm not much of a sportsman, but I can bowl (legacy of a Bay City childhood), golf, shoot pool, and play darts. The perceptive reader will notice that all these sports involve projectiles traveling away from me.

Some of My Favorite People

Finally, here are some of my Favorite People in the Whole World.

  • Wendy Koegler
    Wendy has the bad fortune and enduring patience to be my girlfriend. She is a researcher at Sandia National Labs and does not have a decent Web page.

  • R. J. Anderson
    A writer and fellow Doctor Who aficionado, I met Rebecca (virtually) when commenting on a story of hers I'd read in alt.drwho.creative. She's a fantastic writer, and I highly recommend her Synaesthesia Trilogy.

  • Scott Dexter
    Scott and I both worked on computational complexity with Prof. Kevin Compton at the University of Michigan, but while I went off to Stanford, he wisely finished his work. He's since graduated and now he's a professor at City University of New York -- Brooklyn. Scott's a great guy and a great teacher, and they're lucky to have him.

  • Tamara Munzner
    Tamara was a fellow grad student at Stanford with me, since risen to lofty heights as a professor at the University of British Columbia. She is a good first approximation to omniscient when it comes to science fiction and fantasy, and you should certainly take a look at her good books list.

  • David Schairer
    David and I have known (and goaded) each other since preschool. We filled the nerd quota in our high school, and in college incredibly shared a dorm room for four years without killing one another. We both came to California in 1995, me to Stanford and he to work at Concentric Network Corporation (now XO) as a vice president and chief systems architect, despite the fact that his degrees are all in the humanities. I was delighted to find a site with quotes from David. David knows more than you do.

  • Bonnie Wallace
    Bonnie and I met electronically through our writing back in 1994, and she's been a good friend ever since. She writes exhibits for the California Science Center down in Los Angeles, and is the only person I know who's graduated from Caltech with a comp. lit. degree.

  • Jeff Woodside
    Well, his name is actually Kenneth, but everybody I know calls him Jeff. He was my roommate at Michigan while I worked on my Master's degree, though I known him since we were undergrads. Now that he's got his M.D., he's down in Galveston, Texas doing his residency at the University of Texas Medical School. He's a brilliant fellow, and the field of medicine will be no poorer for his decision to practice it. He is also a consummate gentleman, an inveterate traveller, and an endless font of wit and worldly wisdom.

    (Sadly, his Web page at Michigan is gone now, and he hasn't put one up at UTMB yet.)

  • Finally, some of the other graduate sufferers at Stanford. Years ago some of us banded together to form a study group for our qualifying exam, which ultimately became the Thesis Sufferers' Group, where we goaded one another into finishing and escaping into reality. Alas, now all of these fine people have gone on to other things, leaving me alone to remember the glory days.