I realized that I had far too much to say about how awesome @sgugger (aka Sylvain Gugger) is that I couldn’t possibly fit it all in today’s lesson, so instead I’ve decided to created a whole thread that is entirely focused on this important topic.
Sylvain is, to this day, the only person I have ever offered the opportunity to work full-time with fast.ai. His wonderful writing and research made me quite confident that I should make that offer. I’m so glad I did, and that he accepted. There’s no way we would be where we are today if it wasn’t for him. His ability to understand complex concepts and distill them down to their essence is remarkable, and he’s got an amazing ability to ask just the right questions at just the right time. If he asks me “are you sure about that?” then I always think carefully, because there’s a very good chance he’s noticed something that I missed.
Also… I’m a total pain in the ass to work with. I’m never satisfied, and care far too much about details which most people would consider trivial. Even when something is working pretty well, I’m always asking “how can it be much much better?” Sylvain doesn’t just put up with me, but deeply engages with these questions, and invariably he does figure out ways to make it much much better. In the end, we’ve ended up with many things in the course, the library, and our research that are now genuinely world-class as a result.
We’re particularly blessed because I’m quite sure Sylvain could take his pick of any job he wants, at whatever salary he demanded. The fact that he’s working for our little research lab is amazing. (And special thanks to AWS and USF Data Institute for helping to make that happen.)
Also… he’s funny, thoughtful, and generous. Working on opposite sides of the country seemed like something that might be complex and stressful - but it absolutely never is with Sylvain. Thanks to his great communication and patience, he makes it work really really well.
Anyway, if he’s helped you, feel free to let him know here.
(Having said that, I don’t want him to get a big head, so feel free to also mention something that will help avoid ego inflation. I’ll start: Sylvain’s attempts to pronounce the word “anchor” are absolutely incompetent, no matter how hard he tries. I strongly suspect that this is a skill that is far beyond his talents. So if you ever hear him say “encore” - I assure you he’s almost certainly saying “anchor”.)