Brief Bio
Rafael Espericueta

Decades ago I attended the University of California at Irvine, where I earned both my BA and MS degrees in mathematics (with additional graduate work in cognitive science involving computational vision).  I was advanced to candidacy for the PhD, but alas, never completed my dissertation (which was to be in the field of algebraic geometry).

Besides mathematics, I'm also very interested in the philosophy of science, the nature and evolution of consciousness, artificial intelligence, machine learning, perennial philosophy, Zen meditation, fractal art, simulism, music, playing Go, and programming in Python.

I've been teaching math at various colleges and universities for over two decades, everything from basic math and elementary algebra through differential equations and linear algebra.   One year I served as chair of the Math Department at Bakersfield College, but quickly realized my mistake and promptly took a (much needed!) one-year sabbatical. This sabbatical leave was to study cellular automata, so I hopped on a plane to Cape Town where these creatures are particularly abundant… well, actually they are abstract mathematical constructs, so are no less abundant in South Africa than anywhere else.  

The Internet has proved a big influence on my life professionally as well as personally.   In addition to teaching for Bakersfield College (online and regular lecture classes),  I've taught over a hundred online math courses for the University of Phoenix and Crestmont College.  Recently I authored two online algebra courses for Content on Demand, and have for several years been teaching an online calculus course which I authored (replete with Maple labs).  Physical proximity just isn't an issue when teaching (or taking) an online class.  I've taught courses via the Internet while living in Canada, Ireland, England, Holland, Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand.  My online students have resided in China, Japan, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Peru, Iran, and Egypt, as well as many states in the US.    

During the Fall 2011 semester, I discovered Stanford University's free online courses, and signed up for Andrew Ng's machine learning course.  This course exemplifies what is possible with online education, incorporating videos, quizzes, and significant programming assignments (using Octave).   In many ways this was the best course I've ever taken.  About 100000 students worldwide signed up for this course, and over 12000 completed the course.   The course even enabled me to obtain a little machine learning internship over the Winter break, wherein I got to play around with some interesting machine learning applications using Python and OpenCV.   Currently I'm signed up for more of these free online courses, one in natural language processing, and the other in probabilistic graphical models.  What fun!!

Prior to teaching I worked as a computer programmer for several years, in both a university research environment and in industry.   After completing my MS degree, I worked for four years as senior programmer in the Brain Imaging Lab at the UCI Medical School.  There I worked with PET images as well as multi-lead EEG brain maps, attempting to discern statistically significant differences between the functioning of "normal" brains and those that weren't.  After this stint in brain research, I accepted a position with Dest Corporation (in the heart of Silicon Valley), as a Senior Software Engineer.  There I applied my image-processing expertise to image editing software for a couple of years, until I began teaching full-time at Bakersfield College.

When being less cerebral I like to do zazen, hike, climb mountains (as long as they're not too tall!), play drums, ride my mountain bike, and read sci fi (while stationary-bicycling).   After all that, it's very nice to lay on the couch watching TV with my cat perched purring on my chest.       :-)    ^..^      ~~~