Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lab Spotlight

At first glance, the Data Mining Lab looks like your average computer science research lab. But conducting research in the data mining lab is not your average research experience. I'll explain what I mean by citing three areas that help make our lab experience great.

The People - French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Hmong, Tagalog, Chinese. All languages spoken by members of the data mining lab. It is one example of the diverse capabilities belonging to members of the lab. We love computer science. We love data mining. We love python, open source and neural nets (if its possible to love a neural net). But we also appreciate politics, religion, cooking and anything else that is meaningful...or at least interesting. I remember heated discussions last semester about state funded private school vouchers, the political primaries and caucuses and the grammatically correct way to use the word "good." Being in the lab everyday has enriched my views on the world and made me a more rounded person.

The Activities - All work and no play? Makes you want to run away. Which is why we appreciate the many activities of the data mining lab. Each week we have a lab meeting/potluck where we discuss our progress. Curry, kimchi or burritos would make any meeting more exciting. Occasionally we will attend the campus devotionals/forums or the department colloquiums together as a lab. For example, last week our lab went and listened to Paul Rusesabagina tell his inspirational story, which was portrayed in the movie Hotel Rwanda. In addition to these weekly activities, each semester we meet together at our advisor Christophe's home for a lab social. The food is always fabulous and we even get to bring along our families which helps us bond even more. All of these activities help to make our lab experience unique.

The Research Environment- When it comes down to it, the reason we are all here is because we enjoy researching data mining, and the data mining lab is the perfect place to do it. We are given flexibility to research what is most interesting to us and are given the tools to be successful. This is mostly due to our adviser Christophe, who is flexible and supportive of our aspirations, while also helping us to investigate the feasibility and usefulness of the research topics we are considering. When we run into problems in our research, there is almost always someone in the lab with a helpful idea or suggestion. You may begin discussing a question with one lab member, but it usually isn't long before the whole lab is involved. There are also plenty of opportunities to publish papers, present at conferences and work with real companies. I can't think of a better environment for conducting research than we have here.

These are just a few of the reasons why it is awesome to be a member of the data mining lab. This is the place to be.


Matt Smith said...

Nice post. I agree with your assessment... it really is an amazing place to work!

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, why python? And for that matter, what other tools tend to pop up in the lab (where "tools" can be anything from hardware to operating system to programming language to algorithm to prybar vs. sledgehammer)?