Catch Up

I post to this blog semi-frequently, but I’ve realized that lately I haven’t been posting that much about myself, and the things that I’ve been up to. So I present to you, in no particular order of importance, what’s been going on in my life, academically and otherwise, for the past semester or so.

School

This semester, I’m taking three “real” classes - Modern Architecture, Intro to Stat, and Advanced French - plus a senior thesis class. Unfortunately, I need to take statistics and three semesters of any language to graduate, so half this semester is spent finishing up those general requirements for that sweet sweet bachelor’s degree. I’m taking Modern Architecture purely as an interest class, and have been having a great time. I was always interested in architecture, but the formal class setting is really great for giving me insights about architectural and artistic movements that I had previously only taken at face value. I’ve also been working on a senior thesis, under Professor Olga Papaemmanouil, helping a graduate student (Ryan Marcus) with some of his research. The first part of the thesis was creating a demo that implements the research into a usable online site, and that’s almost done! For the second part … stay tuned.

Hackathons

This semester, I’ve gone to two hackathons so far - Codestellation in October, and HackPrinceton this past weekend. This was the first and only year I have participated in Codestellation instead of organizing, and I’m happy to say that it’s a much less stressful and actually fun experience as an attendee! My team worked on art-amiss, an interactive art application that traces art into manipulatable areas, and allows the user to intuitively interact with them. We won Best Machine Learning Hack! For HackPrinceton, we worked on texture synthesis and transfer to allow the user to take a picture of themselves and recreate it using a texture.

Research

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m working on a senior thesis with Professor Papaemmanouil and Ryan Marcus. The research I am working on is using machine learning techniques for cost and performance management of query workloads. For the first part of my thesis, I implemented a website that allows the user to actually enter data about their query workload (data such as the amount of queries, the templates of the queries, and the service-level agreement) to receive a recommended strategy for provisioning VMs and scheduling queries among them. The website isn’t online yet because we want to work on it a bit more before making it a public service. There is a second part of the thesis planned, but I haven’t done enough work on it yet to have any updates.

Work

It’s year 3 of my job as a web developer at the MakerLab. This semester, I’ve been working on creating a website for the MakerLab that can be used as a main portal for information about what the lab does, how to get involved with the greater maker community at Brandeis, events that the lab is involved with, and projects that affiliated students and professors are working on. The website is almost done! Hopefully, it’ll be done by Thanksgiving, at which point I’ll write up another post about that.

General Interests and Other Things

More and more, I’ve been interested in interdisciplinary applications of technology rather than technology for its own sake. I am interested in using tech to help other fields advance their research, with creative fields as a tool of self-expression, and for philanthropic purposes.

To this extent, I’ve been interested in using technology as a medium for artistic self-expression, namely through the digitization of physical spaces, or the physicalization of digital ideas. How does technology interact with the world around it, and influence it? How does the world around technology influence how it operates? I’ve recently started coding in Processing to see if I can do any interesting image manipulation. I also think I might actually learn how to 3D print. Me, the girl who cried “but it’s just plastic junk”. But it’s not plastic junk if it’s for art. So that’s where I am with that.

I’ve also been interested in machine learning, both academically and artistically. Academically, I’m “learning” (it’s like machine learning, but without the machine) about machine learning for my senior thesis. Artistically, I’ve been working on ML projects for the past three hackathons I’ve gone to. I don’t yet know if I’m at the level where I can start to approach any problems using ML techniques, but I’d like to get there. I think there’s a lot still to be done with it.

And, lastly, media, because what is a list of current interests without including media? I’ve decided that I need to spend some time away from the eye-fry of the computer and find a hobby to do in the evening that winds me down after a long day, so I got a few books to read. Currently, I’m reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, who as a writer can do no wrong. I’ve also got a book about interdisciplinary design (aptly named Interdisciplinary Design) that’s on the queue. After that, I’m unsure. I have a list on Goodreads, but if anyone has any other suggestions send me a tweet or something.

Art with TURmites/Cellular ANTomata Automating Jekyll Site Deployment with Git Webhooks