Get that man an umbrella drink!
By Tallys Yunes
After digging through some old emails and running a few searches on Google, I discovered that my very first interaction with Paul took place on August 21, 2003 at 3:52pm (GMT) when he answered one of my questions at the—now defunct—sci.op-research newsgroup. I was a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon and I remember not only being grateful for the answer but noticing that this “Paul Rubin” guy was everywhere. Even more impressive was the fact that he basically knew everything. Theoretical questions, technical questions, implementation questions, hacking questions, you name it. I’d be interested in finding out what percentage of sci.op-research questions were answered by Paul, and I’m pretty sure that number is greater than 0.5. As some other fellow bloggers pointed out, Paul was also a frequent contributor to several other discussion groups in math and computer science.
As the world of O.R. Q&A evolved from sci.op-research into more modern platforms such as OR-exchange, Twitter, and blogging, so did Paul. (It didn’t take long for him to reach an unsurmountable lead on OR-exchange.) Keep in mind that we haven’t even mentioned Paul the scholar, Paul the teacher, Paul the hacker, and Paul the martial artist. Seriously, Paul, do you even sleep? Regardless of how you do it, we’re all extremely grateful for what you do. THANK YOU VERY MUCH for all your generosity and unwavering willingness to share your knowledge and help total strangers.
While thinking about what to write here, it dawned on me that I’m probably one of the few who has actually met Paul’s evil twin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, note the following photograph, which appears at the bottom of Paul’s MSU web page.
The caption reads “Having a beer with my Evil Twin (I’m the good-looking one.)” When I first saw this photo, I thought that Paul had simply pasted a cutout of his own face over one of his friends’, but I was far from the truth! I’ll tell you the real story behind that picture. (I’m serious! What you’re about to read is true!)
It was a sunny and warm afternoon in May, 2011. A sumptuous outdoor reception for the MBA class of 2011 was underway: drinks, food, conversation, laughter, and handshakes; nothing out of the ordinary. I stopped to congratulate one of my—now former—students and ended up talking to her husband while she posed for a picture in front of a water fountain. Both of them are from Brazil, so it was nice to speak in my mother tongue. Besides, Brazilians enjoy speaking slang-infused Portuguese in front of Spanish speakers (it’s Miami!) just to show off. At some point in the conversation, my student’s husband tells me he also has an MBA, so my natural reaction was…
— Oh, nice! Where did you go to school?
— Michigan State University.
When I heard that, I immediately thought of you know who…
— Really? Did you have classes with Paul Rubin?
— Oh, yeah, of course! Paul! He taught me statistics. Do you know him?
— Well… Virtually. I mean, we have interacted online, but I’ve never met him in person. He seems to be a very nice person, though.
— Oh, he’s great!
— Have you seen his web site? He has this funny photo at the bottom next to a guy he calls his evil twin.
— Oh, that’s me.
— What? What do you mean?
— I’m his evil twin.
— Seriously? How come?
— Well. We were having this party and I decided to print a photo of Paul’s face, wear it as a mask, and tell everyone I was his evil twin. I didn’t know he was attending the party, and then he suddenly shows up! I was very surprised, but luckily he has a good sense of humor.
— That’s amazing! What a coincidence! Who would have thought I’d meet Paul’s evil twin at an MBA graduation reception in Miami!
These Brazilians are such a bunch of jokers, aren’t they? So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the true story. I won’t reveal Paul’s evil twin’s real name or the paparazzi will flock to his house. I’ll only tell you that his initials are B. G. and now you know that he does indeed exist. We ended up exchanging phone numbers and he said he’d invite me to a barbecue at his house one day. It still hasn’t happened. It might have to do with the fact that I told him I was vegetarian, which is an expletive in Brazilian culture.
Paul: jokes aside, I wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life. May your retirement be full of good health, fun adventures, and intellectual stimulation. I very much enjoyed our short time together in Charlotte, and I hope I can see you again in person many more times.
P.S. Please continue to comment on my blog posts. You’re my top commenter! 🙂