Sam Levin

tutor, drummer, programmer

Sam studied jazz performance at NYU, graduating with honors in 2008. While at NYU, Sam had the opportunity to perform with many renowned musicians including Wynton Marsalis and John Scofield. Since graduating, Sam has recorded and toured extensively. Sam has also been tutoring for 10 years. In that time, he’s helped students with just about every standardized test out there, as well as every level of math and Latin.  Sam recently began developing software for tutoring and has designed a number of tools to help tutors work more productively and efficiently. When he’s not tutoring, Sam can be found performing around New York City or coding furiously.

…a text I love to teach

“On the (Nearly Lethal) Comforts of a Luxury Cruise” by David Foster Wallace.

I love putting this essay in front of my students. It’s very challenging, but also very funny and engaging. It’s an excellent example of David Foster Wallace at his best. The challenging writing style forces students to carefully parse complex sentences and work around obscure vocabulary. In the end, they are rewarded with DFW’s striking powers of observation and interpretation.

…a favorite place I’ve visited

Norway.  There’s nothing like hiking from the base of a mountain on a fjord, up through seasonal rainforests overflowing with life, and arriving at the edge of a glacier, all in a few hours.  Also, unlimited wild blueberries.

…eight people living or dead I’d invite to my ideal dinner party

David Bowie, Prince, bell hooks, Elena Ferrante, Bach, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mary Anne Evans (George Eliot), David Foster Wallace

…something I can’t stop thinking about

Machine learning algorithms that can tell whether or not a picture contains a cat by converting said picture to a matrix of ones and zeros and multiplying that matrix by a few more matrices, then applying a gradient descent to each of the elements of the subsequent matrices on back to the first, resulting in a series of parameter matrices that can tell whether ANY picture satisfies “cat or not cat?” (up to about 90% accuracy).  They can even identify cats that are UPSIDE DOWN!