Plans For Winter 2017

Today was the first day of my final semester as an undergraduate at UofT, beginning shortly after the start of the new year. While I’m not really one to insist on formally pursuing new year’s resolutions, on a shorter time scale I at least have some plans for what I want to do over the course of the semester.

My first priority is to finalize my course selection for this semester. There are several competing forces at play; in practice I will probably only take one or two courses for credit (to save money, time, and also because I don’t need any more credits to graduate), and audit several others. Since this is my last chance to take courses as an undergrad, I also feel a strong desire to learn as much as I can. Combined with the fact that so many new and interesting courses are being offered this semester, and that the lectures I’m interested in conflict with each other in weird ways, I’m currently trying to solve a very complicated maximum-weight independent set problem. My primary concern for this week and the next will be to figure out the weights.

I’m currently planning on taking or auditing a few computer science theory grad courses, on topics such as Proof Complexity, Impossibility Results in Distributed Computing, and Private Data Analysis. Otherwise, I’m also considering auditing some lectures on combinatorics to fill some gaps in my math background, and if I have time I may also audit a course on set theory, just for fun. There is also a new undergrad course on Advanced Algorithm Design being offered this semester, which I plan to check out. I may also audit a course on networks, if at least to balance out all of the theory I’m taking with something a bit more practical.

I’m also hoping to see if I can do a bit of self-study on the side this semester. Abstract algebra is a topic where I’ve picked up bits and pieces here and there to study various applications, however I’ve been meaning to properly learn algebra for a while. I plan to see how far I can get using Paolo Aluffi’s book Algebra: Chapter 0, which I’ll probably write about more in future posts. I also picked up a copy of Stasys Jukna’s Extremal Combinatorics With Applications in Computer Science (along with another book of his, Boolean Function Complexity, which usually goes for about $130 CAD, but that I somehow managed to snag for $20 on Amazon), which seems both interesting and useful.

Apart from studying and TAing, I hope to find some time to work on side projects as well, and perhaps attend a hackathon or two. I want to travel for a hackathon at least once before I graduate, so I might as well try doing that while the clock is still ticking. I hope to spend some more time working on research this semester as well.

Finally, I hope to write a bit more regularly during the next few months, which primarily means updating this blog more frequently. I plan to mainly write about things that I am studying, to assist with my own learning, as an excuse to practice writing, and also because it’s fun.

Let’s see how my final semester as an undergrad goes!