Grasping In The Dark
No more classes means more independent research and frustration
It’s been a while.
What’s happened since December?
Winter Quarter passed before I knew it. Three projects at the same time was definitely overwhelming and I’m happy to be back to just two. Several things happened:
I got an internship in New York (kinda)!
I moved! Goodbye graduate housing, hello expensive La Jolla rent
I turned 29! Sheesh.
Possible Dissertation Topic?
With the Bayesian network paper wrapping up, Sonia is interested in choosing a research topic that will hopefully carry me through graduation. She’s suggested looking at a micro-randomized trial, since it’s particularly useful towards wearables-type research.
Seeing as how Sonia is from the Bayesian school, it makes sense that her proposed project has a Bayesian flavor. Now’s the time to read up on all of the current research on micro-randomized trials, which means: papers, papers, papers.
At least I have an inkling of interest in this! The Bayesian network paper has been a slog to work through, and I can’t wait to just send it off to a journal so I can move on with my life.
Proving My First Mathematical Result
My research with Jingjing has finally turned to churning out more theoretical results, and this has been more than a learning experience. We have proposed a model to analyze data, and now comes the part where we need to start proving that it has some desirable qualities.
I had always thought that this part of the process involved me just sitting at my desk and proving my results through the pure power of my brain. That was wrong. The reality is that I’m mostly using the proof techniques from the paper that inspired our project, and I just need to tweak the results to the particulars of our model.
I make that sound so easy, but that has definitely not been the case. I have been stuck on the first proposition for what feels like an eternity, and I haven’t made any progress on my own version of it. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any progress… it just means that I’ve had to read other papers to even understand what the mathy nouns, verbs and adjectives are. It’s been a great learning experience, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that I’m out of my league.
I made a mistake a few days ago. While downloading papers to read, I found myself looking at the website of a PhD student from Harvard. She was fantastic: fully funded by the NSF, papers at top Computer Science meetings, and an internship on the exact team I want to be on at Google. Meanwhile, I’m here fumbling around.
On the hardest days, I find myself mentally giving up and moving over to play Apex. This is bad because it’s not the best use of my time, and I’m already not that great at the game.
Where Am I At?
3 / 10. I don’t know what I’m doing with this math yet, but the best I can do is just stick with it. A new research project is promising and helps with motivation.