3rd Semester Review & Summer REU plans

Published on: Mon May 23 2011

So it is the end of my third semester at Stonybrook. I am now technically a junior. I have four semesters remaining at college.  I will complete a summer of REU work at Stony Brook and then next summer, hopefully REU somewhere else.

The semester I just completed consisted of Chemistry, Waves and Optics, Differential equations and independent study of a book I wanted to read, Quantum Information and Quantum Computation. I learned quite a lot about math this semester. I realized that I had a weakness when it came to integration. To fix this I intend to read a few books on methods of integration and to create some flashcards to help recognize what technique to use. I was still enjoying math quite a lot and the differential equations where fun to solve. I liked using linear algebra with calculus too.

I liked Chemistry but I’m a little worried that my grade will be lower than I expected because right at the end I needed to memorize a whole bunch of amino acids and their names and structures, and I didn’t have it solidified for the test and my final grade is going to not be as high as I wanted. This is a question of taking risks though. I could have not taken chemistry. I could not take several of the courses I have chosen to take. I would rather take the risk of a low grade and learn what I can about a subject instead of avoiding it completely. I should have made more flashcards and known what molecular structure was an essential amino acid.

Waves and Optics, I finally learned how to arrive at conclusions and ‘build’ the formula I need based on physical observations. In particular the lab we did on Gaussian laser beams was at first quite confusing because the formulas we are given seem to have so many unknowns, but as I worked through the lab and set my data up to analyze it, the variables began to make sense. I could always look at the intensity distribution of the laser beam at some point along its direction and see the expression of the formula for the Gaussian beam.

Now my thoughts turn to the summer REU project at Stony Brook. What do I want to work on? I wrote a final paper for Waves and Optics on machine vision, and this seems like an ideal inspiration for a summer project. There are different things to do though. I was initially thinking of training a remote control car to follow me around, and navigate it's way through obstacles. This seems like less of a computer vision project though and everything I was to do with it could easily be accomplished by hacking the Kinect. Then I thought to move on to how a computer sees an image. Maybe work on a sort of image search, that might be a “Where’s Waldo” finder. So it would look through a bunch of images and find the guy in the red and white striped shirt wearing a red and white hat. But that seems like it might be to far removed from physics. I want to do something with phase shift, which is where a little tracking robot sounds like a fun project. I like the idea of learning more about computer vision algorithms because eventually I want to return to quantum computing and quantum information, and I thought a brief pause to learn more about algorithms would be useful. Also, I’m taking an electronics course next semester and I’d rather have that knowledge before continuing to study quantum computers. Ofcourse I'll still reads books on QI and QC but I won't be doing a specific project for them.

So, for the summer I want to do:

Computer Vision algorithms

Study phase shift

Maybe a program to predict how slippery a surface is going to be? I’m not sure how phase shift fits into this problem, but this would be some interesting optics and mechanics. So what I would want to do is judge a surface, based on the texture.