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7 Different Types of Pizza From Around the World

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We may debate which country invented pizza, but there's no denying that it's one of the most popular foods found throughout the world. The word pizza, which comes from the word pita, means 'pie.' So be careful: calling it a pizza pie is sort of like saying "I'll have the soup de jour of the day." The below list is by no means exhaustive. It's just meant to drop a little knowledge on you about some of the more popular permutations found in different regions of the world.

1. Lahma Bi Ajeen

This scrumptious version of pizza, which literally translates into "meat with dough," is brought to you by the Lebanese (other parts of the Middle East call it by other names) and is made with minced onions, usually ground lamb, cumin and yogurt. If you have never tried it, you really must! Soo delicious.

2. Margherita

The pizza Margherita is just over a century old and is named after HM Queen Margherita of Italy, wife of King Umberto I and first Queen of Italy. It's made using toppings of tomato, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, which represent the red, white, and green of the Italian flag.

3. Calzone

Calzone means 'stocking' in Italian and is a turnover that originates from Italy. Shaped like a semicircle, the calzone is made of dough folded over and filled with the usual pizza ingredients.

4. Stromboli

Many people think that strombolis and calzones are identical. However, this is not really the case. According to WIKI, "there are several theories regarding the origin of the stromboli. Romano's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria claims to have originated it in 1950 in Essington, Tinicum Township, just outside of Philadelphia, by Nazzareno Romano. Others claim a stromboli sandwich with chili sauce was invented by Mike Aquino, Sr., in Spokane, Washington, named after the movie Stromboli starring Ingrid Bergman, in 1954."

5. Marinara

This is your basic flat bread with oil, tomato, garlic, and oregano. In Italy, back in the old days, it was stored on voyages so that sailors (marinai) could make pizza away from home.

6. Neapolitan

The Neapolitan hails from Naples and is the basis for our modern-day American pizza. Originally, the Neapolitan pie was served sans cheese. But around 1889, that seems to have changed when the Royal Palace commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. That's how the plain pizza morphed into the Margherita.

7. Deep Dish

Unlike most pizzas, deep dish is eaten with a knife and fork. It hails from Chicago and the best story I found about its origin comes from an article dating back to 1943 from the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago-style pizza may owe its existence to a bad enchilada. When partners Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo planned to open a restaurant, Sewell, a native Texan, wanted to feature Mexican food. But one of the sample meals the partners tested made Riccardo so sick that he rejected Mexican food entirely. Riccardo suggested pizza, which he had encountered in Italy--as indeed many American servicemen were doing during World War II. Sewell's complaint with pizza was that it was insubstantial, little more than an appetizer--and readily available in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood besides. Sewell wanted a substantial, meal-size pizza. After some experimenting, the partners devised something with a thick crust and plenty of cheese.

What's your favorite type of pizza? Let us know in the comments below!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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