Works and Days



Gloopen, Alec Kosik, Winter Shadow 2016

I spent two weeks of this past winter break engrossed in a shadow like no other.  No, my winter shadow with Gloopen did not involve much shadowing at all in fact.  Instead, founders of Gloopen, Arun Sagar and Ranjan Chaudhuri, challenged us externs to develop our own startup.  More accurately, they asked us to start a startup.  Though there remains much to be done before we can release our project onto a Reed server, it is awesome that we can even speak about doing so—in the sense that we are amazed at what we accomplished in two weeks and terrified what will come of our idea.

Terrified too of the legal quarrels looming over every startup’s head, about which we had several conversations that I found particularly enlightening.  Luckily such quarrels may not be that relevant to our current project but just to have a general idea of things like the patent process, with all of its unspoken requirements (such as hiring someone to write the patent), makes me a little more confident in being able to play the game of startups.

On the technical side, Arun told us about emerging technologies as well as software histories.  Because I began programming after many technologies had been created it is always revealing to hear how and why those technologies were created.  For example, the conglomeration of HTML, CSS, and JS was not made all at once but rather was built upon over time as demands for dynamic webpages were solved with JavaScript (JS) and demands for style were addressed by Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Modeling Fluid Dynamics Part 3, Qiaoyu Yang

President’s Summer Fellow Qiaoyu Yang ’16, mathematics major, is testing a probabilistic particle model for studying fluid dynamics with Prof. Aleksandar Donev at the Courant Institute in New York City.

This summer, I worked with Prof. Aleksandar Donev in Courant Institute to perform particle simulation for chemically reactive fluid. In the following I will try to explain the essentials of the project.

Our research problem is to model reactive fluid. Traditionally, fluids’ dynamics are modeled mostly by differential equations. However, in our case, because of the chemical reactions involved, some assumptions about the fluid is very different from reality and this makes the results described by differential equation to be inaccurate. Therefore, we need to use some other methods.

Presidents Summer Fellowship 2015: Haley Tilt, Visual Memory and Livy, Part 3

Haley Tilt, '16, Classics, is adventuring in Rome, tracing and chronicling the geography described by the ancient historian Livy. She plans to create a virtual, interactive map of ancient Rome, based on Livy's depictions. 

The last couple of months have seen me ceaselessly behind my computer, tapping away at my keyboard (and more often, my delete key). Working in combination with the SDS was decidedly a good idea. It gave me access to support I couldn't have done without and a group of other folks equally confused as I. Working in combination with others held me accountable for explaining my ideas, for slowing down and dedicating time to decision making, and it allowed me to bounce a quick--or significant--question off someone else. Strangest thing of all, after two months, I am able to answer other peoples’ questions.

And I am able to build a website. It hasn’t been released yet, and probably won’t be until it’s endured a bit more tinkering, but Livy doesn’t come up on the Hum 110 syllabus until Spring, and I have a few more features I want to add. Things moved more slowly than I anticipated, and I learned that web development is actually rather difficult, a good deal more difficult than I anticipated. Just to give an idea of the breadth of concepts I had to explore: there was SQLITE, the language I used to talk to the database containing all of my images, notes, textual selections, etc., there was python coding, to build the web server, there was HTML/CSS, to build individual web pages and style them, and there were javascript and jquery, to handle all of the ‘interactive’ elements of the site. Although I had some experience with python and javascript, everything else was completely new to me, and connecting all of the pieces, passing packets of information between components and learning to unpack those packets at their final destination, was hard. Some of the features whose implementation I thought would be trivial were actually beyond the scope of my current skill-set, so in addition to learning how to develop my project, I also had to learn to think in stages. This particular instantiation of the project will allow people to view a map side-by-side with the selection of Livy’s text that is relevant to the location they have clicked, and to view images of that location today. As I move forward with the project, I want users to be able to do side-by-side comparisons between modern images of sites and reconstructions of those sites, and I want to bolster the research I’ve already done to better document how each of the sites Livy discusses have come to look the way they do today.

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Modeling Fluid Dynamics Part 2, Qiaoyu Yang

President’s Summer Fellow Qiaoyu Yang ’16, mathematics major, is testing a probabilistic particle model for studying fluid dynamics with Prof. Aleksandar Donev at the Courant Institute in New York City. In this post, he explores the differences between research in applied versus pure math.

The end of summer approaches. So does my summer research at Courant Institute. It’s been an exciting and productive time. During my time at Reed, I have done several research projects, some in pure math and others in applied math. Among these experiences, I liked the one I did in my freshman summer and the one I did this summer the most. They feature different characteristics of research in pure and applied math. I think some of these differences are quite interesting and would like to share them to people interested in math and emphasize the distinctions between pure and applied math.

I did the first project in the summer of 2013 with Dave, i.e., Prof. David Perkinson, in the math department of Reed. We worked on combinatorics and graph theory, a branch of discrete math. On the other hand, the research project I did this summer is building a stochastic particle model. This is a topic in scientific computation, which is a part of applied math. In the following, I will try to compare my experiences and give the readers some flavors of what research is like in pure and applied math. Of course I need to admit that these are totally based on personal experience and they can be very biased. Also, I’m still learning about math, and a lot of things highly depend on the specific subject so my conclusions can be over-generalizing. But this is not writing a research paper so I don’t want to be too rigorous in all aspects.

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Modeling Fluid Dynamics, Qiaoyu Yang

President’s Summer Fellow Qiaoyu Yang ’16, mathematics major, is testing a probabilistic particle model for studying fluid dynamics with Prof. Aleksandar Donev at the Courant Institute in New York City.

After finishing my study abroad program in Moscow, I flew to NYC on May 23rd. The weather is terribly hot here. It took me two days to settle down and then I went to meet my supervisor, Prof. Aleksandar Donev, in the Courant Institute.

Courant is really amazing. It’s a leading center for research and education in applied mathematical science, as well as in computational and some fields of pure math. There are researchers working on different areas of mathematical science, such as computational biology, fluid dynamics, mathematical finance, and so on. Prof. Donev is working on computational physics and chemistry, so my project is also closely related to these two subjects.