Mid-Semester Woes

Hey, it’s been awhile!

Well, the spring semester is almost over — just two short weeks of class less after this upcoming Thursday. Not out of the woods just yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This semester has been pretty challenging for me. My physics class is quite difficult (classical dynamics — the bane of every undergrad physics major’s existence). My discrete math course requires a lot of my time and effort; it’s taught IBL style (inquiry based learning), so we’re not allowed to use any outside materials. Just the notes supplied to us in class and our previous homework sets. I love this style of learning, but it is very demanding. Currently, we’re just finishing up rings and functions; we got to this point by building up on everything we’ve learned previously. We went from logic, to sets, to characteristics functions, to rings, to functions, and then we combined them all and came full circle!

On top of all that, I am still working on my small math project involving Poisson processes (the 2nd part of the post on this topic will have to come after I give my talk, since that is essentially what my talk will be over!). I have been working very hard to organize everything to give the most efficient talk possible (as well as attempt to be engaging), but I could still use some practice.

Probably the highlight of this semester was being admitted to the Wolfram Science Summer School for 2015! It was a pretty involved application process: I sent in the application, my resume, corresponded through email, come up with a possible project to work on, then had an interview with the academic director over the phone. After all that, I also was required to take a Mathematica certification exam (and am now a certified Wolfram Tech associate, which is pretty dang cool!). I feel extremely fortunate that, out of hundreds of applicants, I was chosen to be among the 50 that get admitted, and I am very grateful to the people who pushed me to apply for this opportunity.

One of the neat things about the Wolfram Science Summer School is that it’s all based on Stephen Wolfram’s ideas discussed in his book, A New Kind of Science, and how to take the concepts of computational complexity in simple programs and apply it to your particular existing field of science.

wolf1 wolf2

Now, if you’ve never read this book, I definitely recommend it; it’s written in plain English, but still retains a technical tone that requires you to think about what’s being talked about in the same way you would if you were reading your math textbook. The book deals with cellular automata, and discusses how, through the study of these simple programs, a new intuition can be built within an individual that allows them to tackle scientific questions in other fields that have been historically difficult to find answers to. Through building a new intuition, a new way to look at science, you can also more readily find new questions and new observations that may have been missed before. It’s a pretty neat concept! I’m not totally done with the book, but I’m working on it (it’ll probably take me a little while to finish!).

Anyway, just wanted to give a small update on the happenings of my life. Thanks for sticking around!


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