Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Computing researcher, senior

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passion: computer science
Interests: robotics, Go, mycology

“My research in computer science is an evolving project. At the end of my sophomore year I found a book in teacher Andrew Merrill’s office. I devoured it in a few months, and it changed how I thought about computer science and algorithms. So the beginning of my junior year I got interested in starting serious research on functional programming. Andrew let me do an independent study so that I could focus on my research. We meet once a week to talk about my research. He gives great suggestions on new directions.
I began to explore the practical applications of functional programming, and this turned into my science fair project. I showed how to use something called effect types to convert a program that doesn’t use parallel processing to one that does. I ended up publishing and presenting my research at the International Symposium on Application and Implementation of Functional Languages.
I work a lot on my computer but as much time in my research notebook, doing proofs and sketching ideas. I like working on the robotics team, writing software. I like to play Go for the social aspects of the game. I like to solve problems.

The idea of having a machine that can exhibit intelligent behavior was very exciting to me, and it’s the main reason I became interested in computer science. Creating a thing that has creativity, intelligence, and knowledge is like creating life.”