More startup news, wrapping up the PhD

So lately, I’ve been focused more on startups than I have on computer science. Probably because of the momentum I got from I got from the Guelph Opendata Hackathon, the CODE contest, the Hub pitch, entry into the Hub accelerator, Democamp Guelph, the Conestoga Centre for Entrepreneurship, and lastly the Montreal International Startup Festival / FounderFuel.

Despite this, I have been chugging away at my thesis making small incremental progress. The goal is to finish writing the dissertation by the end of summer (August) and then come back to Guelph in the fall to defend. It’s great to be reaching the end of this long process and very exciting to have so much opportunity in the future. Check back soon as I’ll likely be posting more technical computer science types of posts in the coming weeks as I try to focus on the dissertation and wrap up quickly. I’m wrapping up all the loose end projects I’ve been a part of the last couple of years and it’s going to be a sprint to the end.

PhD Candidate!

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A week ago I finally managed to complete my qualifying exam at Guelph. It was a rocky road getting here, and the exam wasn’t easy but thankfully it’s done and I passed. The biggest criticism I received was regarding my focus. I was too ambitious with my proposal and need to pare down what I want to accomplish so that I finish in a reasonable amount of time.

So it looks like instead of an entire working implementation, I’ll just be focused on a very small subset of my grand dreams from when I started my PhD. On the upside – I’ll still have lots of ideas to continue with when I’m finished and hopefully I can get a job that lets me continue to work away at them 🙂

 

Technical Reviewing as Grad Student?

As I’ve published more and more, I’ve been invited to become a reviewer for many conferences and journals. Some are by people I’ve met while presenting at conferences, but others come randomly in my inbox from people who have read my papers. There’s something that seems weird about being an “expert reviewer” while still not completed my studies myself – but I’ve always accepted when I’ve had time to do them because I feel like it’s good to volunteer back some time after other people have done the same work to review my papers.

Generally, I stick to accepting review requests for papers which are very closely related to my area of study. In the cases where I’m not sure of something, I ask for advice from other grad students in the areas I am lacking in expertise. I also usually give a comment to the editor letting them know I am just a PhD student, and to take my opinion with less weight than more qualified reviewers. That being said, I think I usually am thorough and give useful feedback to the authors’ of papers I review.

Getting invited to review so often has also made me question the whole review and acceptance process. It would be nice if journals and conferences disclosed how many of the reviewers have PhDs – although I guess it wouldn’t really tell much because I’ve also been handed papers by professors I work with and been told to review them and give them a report which I assume they use to submit the review themselves. In some respects it makes sense to have grad students review papers since they are often very connected to the current research, but I am still not confident about the process if it is possible for papers to be accepted without even being looked at by a real PhD. Maybe I just don’t know enough about how it all works yet to know for sure. After all, there’s always layers of editors and committees and everything else.

In any event, here’s a couple of links about how to review a paper for any other grad students who find themselves in the same boat:
http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~ebelding/courses/284/papers/ReviewingPapersStudentGuide.html
http://www.raulpacheco.org/2013/06/the-ethics-of-academic-peer-review-some-tips-and-best-practices/

Second Times a Charm?

After what seems like eternity, I have completed my second (and a half?) qualifying exam document at Guelph. For people who know me, or who have read a bit of my blog, you may know that I am on my third advisor for my PhD. The advisor I came to the University for suddenly passed away and the second advisor after that resigned right before my last QE was supposed to happen. So after starting with my third (and hopefully final) advisor, I decided to start my QE fresh so that it was something I was proud of and confident in before I presented it. For those of you who don’t know, a QE document is a sort of research proposal (<= 50 pages) of the work you intend to do for you PhD. It contains the literature review, motivation and sometimes initial results, as well as the planned methodology for the research. So anyway, I have completed the document and after several rounds of edits with my advisor it is ready and off to the committee. Here's hoping I'll make it to the exam stage this time and pass quickly so I can move on with the real work! Stay tuned for some posts that are more technical instead of these boring updates on my progress. Now that things are moving along I think I'll actually have something to post 🙂

Updates: Publications, Guelph ACM, Teaching, Thesis

Just a short post with some updates since I’ve been quite busy as usual.

I have submitted the final draft of an adaptive scheduling algorithm for wireless networks to BWCCA conference in Japan. I intend to present my findings in November.

The ACM Group I am chair of is organizing a computer programming contest at Guelph for the fall semester. We are also planning to try to field a team for ACM ICPC* Update * We have been featured in the ACM student publication crossroads: http://tinyurl.com/25u5vxt.

A few days ago I found out I am the teaching assistant for CIS2030 at Guelph for the second time! I am excited to be back, and expect to do a good job since I am becoming familiar with the course.

Lastly, my thesis has been progressing slowly this semester. I am still in the stage where I am deciding where to focus my work. The general area I am exploring is heterogeneous wireless networks, however there are many problems and it is difficult to choose one to focus on. Since I worked in scheduling for my MSc. thesis, I intend to move in a bit different of a direction so that I expand my knowledge. (although I still may publish some more scheduling papers since I still have some ideas in that area)