Igor Tolkov
Software Engineer, Facebook
Co-founder and Lead Developer, taiLib
University of Washington, Class of 2013
B.Sc. Mathematics, Physics; B.Sc. Computer Science; B.A. Linguistics


I am a STEM quadruple major and recent University of Washington graduate. I currently work as a Software Engineer at Facebook.

Read more about me via the links on this page, and feel free to e-mail me with any questions.


2014Apr+Software Engineer @ Facebook
2013Aug-Undergrad @ UW
2012JulChina Trip
2011FebtaiLib Launch
2009Aug-DecStudy Abroad in Europe
2007Sep+Undergrad @ UW

Contact Me

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If you can guess where the cover photo was taken, I will add your name to a list of winners (coming soon).


Here are the latest photos and posts from my blog.

Today there was a fire at ASKO Processing, Inc. in Fremont. Units were dispatched at 12:51. Dispatch log:

9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 A2 B4 B6 E20 E21 E8 L6 L9 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 A5 E10 HAZ1 L1 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 AIR260 COMVAN 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 AIR9 DEP1 M18 REHAB1 SAFT2 STAF10 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 B5 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E17 E2 E38 E5 L10 L4 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E18 E9 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E20 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E30 E34 E41 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E36 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E38 E6 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E40 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E6 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E8 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E80 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E81 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 L3 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 L8 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 M16 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 MAR5 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 MRN1 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 P25 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 PIO 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 REHAB1 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire

That evening I visited the scene. All of 35th street between Evanston (the rocket) and Phinney was taped off, and full of firefighting equipment and pump trucks. Businesses in the area were closed. I presume this includes Theo’s, which was inside the perimeter. (How can you make chocolate with all that smoke?)

From an alley between 35th and 36th I could see a corner of the skeleton of what used to be the metal shop. Residents were talking about their experiences and warning onlookers to stay out of the likely contaminated water.

On Saturday I went on another long bike ride to the Mt. Rainier foothills. The ride was 158.5 km long and covered the entire lengths of the Cedar River, Foothills, White River (Sumner), and Interurban trails.

The most interesting part of the trip was covering the less-known and less-developed parts of the Foothills Trail. My analysis puts the Eastern end of the trail a bit North of Enumclaw. (North of that is some private property, then a short spur, then nondescript bushes, and after that the railroad tracks are still in place.) The trail stops in Enumclaw, then continues a few blocks later.

The Enumclaw-Buckley portion starts out as a developed paved trail, then becomes more and more rustic, finishing off as a narrow winding path downhill through huckleberry bushes as it hits Mud Mountain Road. It keeps going from there, but only for a short distance, hitting White River.

The trail resumes just on the other side of the river (which you have to cross along SR 410). Since going the full-length of the trail was not a stated goal of the trip, I missed this section, rejoining the trail in the Buckley city center, where there is an open-air museum full of old metal stuff. (Presumably, it sits on an old railroad junction.) After Buckley the trail is paved for a little bit, then becomes a narrow path again, but at least it doesn’t turn into a mountain trail. (Google doesn’t know about this section.) Then, suddenly, the pavement returns and you cross a long trestle. One wonders who uses this 2 km section of the trail, accessible from just one road abbreviated as “268th Avct. East.”

What stops one from continuing along to South Prairie? The trail enters private property. Then there is an RV park and a closed bridge across Wilkeson Creek.

Perhaps someday Enumclaw and Puyallup will be connected by a contiguous public path. This requires two things: some negotiation over the status of the part East of South Prairie and a bridge over White River. Part of me wants the unimproved sections to stay unimproved, though - it adds to the excitement of crossing the trail, end-to-end.

Challenge of the week: fix and clean our sink plumbing. Note the old rusty nut and the shiny new one.

Thank you to Maple Leaf Ace Hardware for letting me in right before closing and for testing out the replacement. The folks there were surprised that my nut wasn’t catching the thread on the sink tail, but tried it on a new sink piece (with pipe and washer), and confirmed the issue. Then I asked them to try on a new one in the same arrangement - it worked. Our sink is now fixed for less than $3.50.

These came in the mail today. Three cans of tea: two black, one green; one from India, two from China; all 100% organic.

I prefer to buy from the company store in Portland than through the reseller Whole Foods. The teas arrived to Seattle within two days. I’m already enjoying the “pearl tea” (珠茶), commonly known in the US as “gunpowder”, grown in the town of Pingshui in the Shaoxing county of Zhejiang province, China.

Was in the UW marshlands on Saturday looking for wildlife. There were many more geese, ducks, herons, and smaller birds than I can photograph or show.

This is Daejeon Pavillion located in Daejeon Park of Beacon Hill, Seattle. Daejeon is a Korean sister city of Seattle.

At night, it is very well-illuminated.

It is Spring in Seattle! Photos from the Maple Leaf and Green Lake neighborhoods.

On April 3rd I went with a group of UW CSE Alumni to Paul Allen’s Living Computer Museum in Seattle. It featured old computers, all (most) working and open to use.

I never used anything older than a PC running Windows, but I definitely read about the older computers.

How Seattle's Neighborhoods Got Their Names:

There is an interesting article out there about how Seattle’s neighborhoods got their names. Not all are listed: a commenter by the name

I am putting my warm clothes away until (in theory) next Winter, and so it is perfect time for a story…

After Lao-Tzu settled in his new home, his followers came and brought him gifts. One brought an old-looking lamp. At which Lao-Tzu looked and thought: “What an ugly lamp!

The next day Lao-Tzu looked again at the lamp and thought: “If only this lamp were a clothes hanger, it would at least have served some purpose.

When Lao-Tzu looked at the lamp for the third time, it was a clothes hanger.

Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 5, day 6: Sunny Chicago

The Millennium and Grant Parks are beautiful in Winter! For some reason, people did not disturb the fresh snow. And it’s always great to see nature and buildings mix.

The reflective thing is the Cloud Gate. It is weird. I’m not sure what the point of it is, but I couldn’t find an angle where the sun was not reflecting.

Only one thing I didn’t like: the Chicago Transit Authority (they had a train derailment recently because they put people at odd shifts, and then people fall asleep) has downtown lines running on top of streets. It’s really ugly. Though, that line took me straight to Midway airport, so I’m not really complaining.

Oh, and another thing: as far as I could tell, Midway has one security checkpoint for the entire airport, and they do weird things like close Checkpoint 3 and make Lines 2 and 3 merge together while Line 1 goes at normal speed. (I was in Line 3.) Anyway, get there early.

Thus ends my Chicago / Ann Arbor adventure.

Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 5, day 5: Willis Tower

Yes, I climbed the Sears Tower. Now called Willis Tower (seriously, why change the name). Good views from up there.

I tried to take a selfie, but failed. Then someone took my picture, which is decent. Then I tried to set up a flash, but was approached by an employee. The conversation went something like this:

- Is this a camera or an iPod?
- I’m sorry?
- Is this a camera or an iPod?
- It’s… a camera? Why?
[Something about how I can’t have something. Eventually, I get it.]
- Oh, you mean a tripod?

The only regret is spending too much time on the SkyDeck and leaving too little time to explore the city.

Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 4, days 4-5: Trains

The first photos are from my return trip to Chicago. The Wolverine, which runs from Chicago to Pontiac, Michigan and stops in Ann Arbor, runs three times daily in each direction. The trip from Ann Arbor to Chicago takes about 4.5 hours.

The morning of my return, a blizzard came through, and the train was delayed at Jackson, Michigan while crews cleared snow out of a switch. We were allowed to exit the train, and the smokers braved the cold. The train proceeded to Chicago with no other problems.

The rest of the pictures are from bridges over Huron River West.

Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 3, day 4: Huron River West

The day after I first saw the Huron River I returned, this time upstream, to the Argo reservour and nature area. The goal was to reach the Barton Nature Area, but I was, again, short on time. I did not miss out because it was scenic the whole way there. At one point along the foot trail there was a place with birds of many kinds singing in the trees and squirrels chasing them around. I saw robins, woodpeckers, and other species I can’t name - I’m no birdwatcher.

The next day I would board an early morning train back to Chicago…

Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 2, day 3: Nichols Arboretum

I should say that my second day on the trip, and my first full day in Ann Arbor was fairly uneventful. Obviously, this excludes the morning I spent with an old friend and his roommate. I launched a spaceship in Kerbal Space Program for the first time and crashed it. The remainder of the day was spent in a 1st year grad student math office where I planned out the remainder of my stay. I also went on a walk around campus and had dinner with a friend.

On the third day of the trip, or second day in Ann Arbor, I had two teas scheduled. In the three-hour long break between the teas I went to the Arboretum. In the Winter, it’s a large park with snow-covered trails. A flute led me to the river bank where I admired the ice floats passing by - Spring was here.

This short excursion might be my favorite part of the trip, actually.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. A week after I returned from San Francisco, I left again to visit the Great Lakes region for the first time - actually, this was my first time to set foot in a state that doesn’t border the Pacific.

The plan was to visit friends in Chicago, then visit more friends in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a cost-saving measure, I was to fly in and out of Chicago, and travel to Ann Arbor and back by train. This gave me three full days in Ann Arbor and two partial days in Chicago.

As always, pictures will be published in several installments. The first in chronological order is Day 1 in Chicago.

The new Facebook layout, compared with the “old new” Facebook layout, misses a photos feed. Bummer, since that’s probably my favorite way of browsing Facebook.

Challenge: code up a photos feed for Facebook in 40 minutes.

The simple solution relies on a macro plugin (I use Scriptish for Firefox, there is probably a similar app for Chrome.) The macro is Javascript code that is executed on or after page load. Here is the code:

// ==UserScript==
// @id             10
// @name           Facebook-photosfeed
// @version        0.01
// @namespace      
// @author         Igor Tolkov
// @description    Introduces a photos feed for Facebook
// @include        https://www.facebook.com/*
// @run-at         document-start
// ==/UserScript==
    /* Hides posts, leaving only those which contain photos */
    var show_photos = function(){
        var s = document.getElementsByClassName("_5jmm");
        for(var i in s){
            var a = s[i]; if(!a.className) continue;
            a.style.display = "none";
        for(var t in {"_5cq3":0, "_2a2q":1}){
            var s = document.getElementsByClassName(t);
            for(var i in s){
                var a = s[i]; if(!a.className) continue;
                while(a.className.indexOf("_5jmm")==-1) a = a.parentNode;
                a.style.display = "block";
    /* Adds a photos feed link in sidebar */
        var li = document.createElement("LI");
        li.id = "link_show_photos";
        li.className = "sideNavItem stat_elem";
        li.innerHTML = '<a title="News Feed" href="/?sk=photos" class="item clearfix"><div class="rfloat"><span aria-busy="1" aria-label="Loading..." class="img _55ym _55yn _55yo _5tqs uiSideNavSpinner"></span></div><div><span class="imgWrap"><i class="img sp_247cvt sx_cfa14f"></i></span><div class="linkWrap noCount">Photos Feed</div></div></a>';
        var ref = document.getElementById("navItem_app_4748854339" /* News Feed */);
        ref.parentNode.insertBefore(li, ref.nextSibling);
        if(location.search == "?sk=photos")
            document.getElementById("link_show_photos").className = "sideNavItem stat_elem selectedItem open";
            document.getElementById("link_show_photos").className = "sideNavItem stat_elem";
    /* We use a custom news feed landing url. Facebook does not recognize it and ignores it. */
    if(location.search == "?sk=photos")
}, 500);

Now you can also have a Facebook photos feed!

Palo Alto is probably my favorite Bay Area suburban city, and this is my second time there. The first time was five years ago - I explored the Stanford campus in detail. This time I didn’t even go to the Stanford campus. It is a rather long way from the station, and I was tired after walking ~10 miles. Besides, my goal was to explore the living situation of the Bay Area. My impressions:

  1. Palo Alto is very scenic and a great place to visit. There is the Palantir campus, the house where HP was born, nice but not extravagant houses, plenty of non-PMV (personal motor vehicle) traffic, lots of trees. Basically, it’s a rich city where you probably won’t get shot, as opposed to some segregated wealthy neighborhoods of the West Bay. There is also a bicycle rental program, and since the West Bay corridor is nearly flat, getting around by bicycle is very tempting.
  2. The University Avenue is fun. There’s the egg made out of circuit boards, but also the old Borders store that used to be a theater and before that something else, the burger restaurant with a bookstore theme, and other shops as well.
  3. I most likely can’t afford to live there. Or, wouldn’t want to.

In other words, I’ll probably be back in the not-too-distant future.

23 February 2014 - Seattle, Roosevelt district

I’m not quite sure what the suggested donation is supposed to be… how much would you pay for these chairs? Also, does anyone else read “Putin”?

This is the San Francisco Chinatown. I’ve been down the street many times, but this time I strolled into the park. The abstract-looking statue is of Sun Yat-Sen, according to the faint caption. An old man to the right is practicing Tai Chi.

I go to the Chinese bakery where they supposedly make their own filling. The old couple who work there don’t really speak English, and I don’t speak Cantonese (or Taishanese), but I like their pastries.

Former class schedules

I graduated in the summer of 2013, but my six years of course schedules are still up, and I have no plans to take them down.

About Me

If any of these topics interest you, click "read more". You will find a whole page related to that topic.

MathematicsRead more
I am most specialized in mathematics, particularly in algebraic number theory. Read about my early math days, my trip to Budapest, my graduate coursework, and see some of my course papers for math classes.

PhysicsRead more
Read about how I completed my physics degree upside down, browse through my quantum mechanics notes, and look at some of my seminar slides.

Computer ScienceRead more
Explore the fruits of my early computer science experiments, my computer science coursework and research, and my web start-up. Watch videos of projects I designed in the hardware lab.

Linguistics and ChineseRead more
Learn why I like linguistics so much, browse pictures of my trip to China, and read my course papers for linguistics and Chinese classes. Practice your traditional character recognition on a writing sample.

ActivitiesRead more
See what I do in my spare time. I used to lead a student organization, and that's no easy task. Read about that and my other leadership activities.

Websites and Profiles

Old Site http://igor.tolkov.com/archive
No longer maintained, but still interesting.
China Blog Stories and memories from July 2012
And any future China travel plans.
Tumblr Song of a thistle
My present blog, mostly with photos. Mirrored on this site.
Google+ "Not all those who wander are lost"
I occasionally post photos here.
LinkedIn My LinkedIn Profile
taiLib My taiLib Profile
A service I co-founded and run. We aim to connect students who have textbooks with students who need them.