Thursday, September 25, 2008

boodly boodly boodly Boodly (the sound of a power up)

So I've moved to Toronto and started my Master's in Computer Science. I'm living in a basement bachelor apartment only 15 minutes walk from school, surrounded by a variety of multi-cultural restaurants. In my building, The Bahen Centre for Information Technology, I have an office (cubicle, really) in the Dynamic Graphics Project on the fifth floor. I'm starting to scatter my workspace with post-its. Next to my monitor is a picture of the Vitruvian Man. Thanks to having to write a grant proposal, I even have a topic for my Master's research, "Developing Methods for Teaching Computer Interface Gestures by Mimicry"

Grad school looks to be busy, but awesome. I am surrounded by people almost always willing to discuss any topic in immense detail, irrelevant or not. There are a wealth of resources that I can learn from, to the point that you could spend years here without actually accomplishing anything (research). Your Research is really the main point. Everything else (courses, teaching, seminars) are really just a distraction - you're here to contribute to Knowledge. This semester, I'm taking three courses: Ubiquitous Computing, Computational Biology and Machine Learning. I initially didn't want to take Comp. Bio. because it is outside my field, but due to annoying "breadth requirements" for my degree, I have to. However the course looks fascinating.

Classes here don't carry the same format they did in undergrad. The template for every class is to take turns pre-reading some research paper, and then presenting it. By the ending of my classes, I should be an expert at:

1) Reading
2) Understanding
3) Presenting

The above list actually looks pretty important. It does leave room for computational and programming competency, but I think Machine Learning will be enough for that; I wish I had taken more statistics in my undergrad. However, having an applied math background gives me a jump ahead in some other areas.

When not at my desk, I've been out exploring places to eat and drink in Toronto (but not too much). For the first two weeks, I was able to drink a new beer I had never had before, and I was out almost every other night. When not out, I've been chilling in my bachelor pad. Having a bread machine and a BBQ and an oven (didn't have one last year) is awesome. I've also been seeing lots of improv: Impatient and PROJECTproject so far, but there's much more to come.

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