Burning Silicon

End of winter quarter

Hello World!

So ya know how I said I would not be taking 10 week long breaks between posts? I guess that was maybe not entirely correct. This quarter was MUCH better than last quarter but it was still busy. But anyways, here goes me infodumping 10 weeks of my life onto y'all!

So first off, my MIT hackathon stuff came in the mail. It consisted of this:

swag

Hackathon swag can be pretty weird, but this definitely is the weirdest. I'm guessing it's because they really didn't know what to get us since most hackathon swag is either useless stuff with sponsor logos on it or things that are kind of gag gifts alluding to the fact that you will be staying up all night in a crowded room, such as mouthwash. The hand santizier and mask were definitely a nod towards the covid situation, the pen was sponsor junk, but the cloth and the potted plant were a mystery. Why on earth would they think that hackers would be fans of a potted flower of all things?? It's lovely and starting to sprout, but I don't know why they gave it to us.

AI research

Unfortunately I can't talk much about it because of the NDA, so instead I will just tell stories about it that don't give anything away. Probably the neatest code-thing to happen was when I sped up my code from 10 hours to 30 seconds. So when I finished writing the code that tested what we are trying to test (which is REDACTED), it took about ten hours to run 100 nodes and there were a few thousand nodes that had to be run. So I started testing small chunks of 100 nodes to work out the bugs, of which it turns out, there were many. However it still took forever and I wanted to find a faster way to do it. The code was doing two things: creating word embeddigns and doing some very simple math that I programmed. The math was simple so I assumed that it was not the problem and instead look to optimize the word embeddings. But turns out, the work of word embeddings was mostly done by code I downloaded which had been optimized over the years by google engineers so it really didn't need much optimizing. The code that did need optimising was the stuff I wrote, which checked for a dictionary and loaded the dictionary every iteration. So first, I made it so that it only checked for the dictionary once, at the very beginning, and if it wasn't there it created it. This sped it up by about a factor of 2. Then I made it so that it only loaded the dictionary once, and just passed it down to lower functions when it ran. It turns out, loading a dictionary takes a lot longer than passing it to another function which I didn't know. So my code went from 10 hours to about 30 seconds! Now I just need to figure out how to get the result we want, because right now the data is a mess.

Robotics research

For my robotics research, which is not under NDA, there have also been some cool developments! For one thing, I got the Provost Undergraduate Fellowship! This is basically an award where the people who run the university decide that they want to give you money to do the research that you're doing. So that was pretty cool! It was a fairly simple application and I recommend that anybody at UC Davis who is in undergrad research to apply for it!

provost

Unfortunately, the rest of my robotics research is the lest interesting side of research. Essentially I'm looking at a ton of film of people wearing cameras, and writing down the frames in which they make specific hand gestures. It's boring and there is SO MUCH FILM!!! In the end the data will be put into MatLab, which is a math programming language, where it will be analyze to get data regarding how hands are used in everyday life. But this is the work you have to do so you can do the interesting stuff later on.

Dastardly class goings on

In engineering classes, it is common for the class to be curved. However recently, I was in a class that was curved DOWN. Rather than a 93% for an A, it was shifted to a 94%. I am very cheesed about this. First off, it's a pandemic, can't you cut us some slack? Second, why on earth would you do that? You've been telling us it's a 93% all year and now after grades are in the book you move it to a 94%? I don't usually post about classes but this really cheesed me.

Oh one small request from you all. I have made it so the site has comments, likes, dislikes, an update mailing list, and similar SEO to when I used wordpress. Everything is now the same or better, except for the fact that if my power goes out, the pi in my room shuts down and the site shuts down, but that's rare. However there is one other issue that is entirely solvable: when I had wordpress, I had a few dozen subscribers. Now I only have a few which makes me sad :(
If you could subscribe, and encourage others to subscribe, or email me and tell me why it's so much easier to subscribe to workpress than to my site, that would be much appreciated!!

May you be ever victorious in your endeavors.
M.E.W