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(Video) Google Engineer Chris Palmer Explains “The Powers of Two”, Big O Notations

Google security engineer (and Hackbright mentor) Chris Palmer helps new programmers understand how to answer questions like “How much RAM does Twitter have to buy?” and “What’s the lowest possible latency to open a Gmail inbox showing 25 conversations?”

Watch the full Hackbright Academy Tuesday night tech talk here:


Check out his “Powers Of Two” slides here!

Chris talks about how to put real-world orders of magnitude on abstract big-O complexity, make back-of-the-envelope estimations, and explore how to use them to reverse engineer real-world large-scale applications like Twitter and Gmail. He explores algorithms and their complexity from a high-level view and from a low-level view, to help develop intuitions about what computers can really do.

About the speaker: Chris Palmer works at Google as a software security engineer on Chrome, where he focuses on the security of Chrome for mobile platforms (Android and iOS), and duct-taping over the foibles of the web PKI. Prior to this, Chris was on the Android team at Google. Prior to Google, Chris was the Technology Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a security engineering consultant at iSEC Partners, and a web developer. Majoring in linguistics and in French literature prepared him well for these careers, weirdly. Follow him on Twitter at @fugueish.

Dave-to-Girl Ratio in Mentors at Hackbright Academy

We crunched some numbers about the various software engineers who mentor Hackbright engineering fellows. What we found was a Dave-to-girl ratio of 3 to 68 :) The Dave-to-Katherine ratio is 1:3 in our Hackbright mentors!By Angie Chang (Director of Growth, Hackbright Academy)

At Hackbright Academy, we’re excited to kick off our Mentorship program in two weeks!

We crunched some numbers about the various software engineers who mentor Hackbright engineering fellows. What we found was a Dave-to-girl ratio of 3 to 68 :)

Here’s what Hackbright Mentors have said about mentoring:

“As a woman in technology, I am concerned about the skewed gender ratios prevalent in the tech industry. Mentoring at Hackbright has enabled me to participate actively and help aspiring women engineers who are on their way to becoming excellent programmers. Giving back to the local tech community through Hackbright has been a very humbling experience!”
– Charmy Chhichhia, Chegg Sr. Data Scientist

“I’ve officially mentored two Hackbright students,
and I’ve enjoyed watching these smart and motivated
new engineers learn and have fun so much that
I’ve also unofficially mentored two more students.
I’m looking forward to the next session of students and
to their success!”
Chris Palmer, Google Chrome Security Engineer

“I love mentoring Hackbright because working
with smart folks is so inspiring – the enthusiasm
they bring to their projects, and the amount they learn
in ten weeks, just floors me every time. It’s wonderful
to share in the excitement of their interviews
and their new careers.”
Kat Hagan, freelance web developer

We have enough mentors for the Spring 2014 session of Hackbright
but if you are interested in mentoring for the next class, fill out this form.

Thanks!