Summary of year 2016: Student to the fullest

KU Leuven story

KU Lueven logo

I enjoyed studying at KU Leuven university in a small city full of students, bicycles and beer. It is one of the best university for my field of study and I am very happy that I was part of it. I learned a lot. For me it was like dream university studies with great student’s life. But that’s for another blog post. Here is a research letter to my university research group.

Leuven jump

Internship in Switzerland

I gained a lot of professional experiences in the big research institute Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. By travelling in Switzerland, I got excited about the nature and hiking. Another blog post about my work experience and travelling diary in Switzerland.

Swiss flag

Diploma Thesis – recommendation at one of the biggest platform for online courses

My diploma thesis Recommendation of new questions in online student communities went really well. In short, we are recommending new questions to most suitable users who are most likely to answer. It is done in CQA system, which is some sort of discussion board/forum, which is used by students in online (MOOC) courses, e.g. Coursera or EdX. The aim of the work is to help to answer a new question quicker and with the right answer. Moreover, it supports interactions among students which leads to better learning.

I designed and implemented the recommendation in CQA system Askalot. In cooperation with Caltech University and TU Delft university, we deployed it for their course about Quantum Cryptography on EdX platform. More than 4000 students were signed up for the course. My recommendation uses machine learning to model the expertise and willingness of each student. It has recommended more than 120 questions to students yet.

recommendation

Books (8)

I read the eight books (2426 pages), same number as previous year. Here is the complete Goodreads summary.

books

The best books for me this year are:

  1. Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The Black Swan – The book is comparing two worlds, Mediocristan with the normal (Gaussian) distribution, which is widely applied to model many subjects, to Extremistan. However, the normal distribution is not always suitable. In Extremistan the impact of black swan (outlier) is enormous and it can be modelled with power laws. Another idea is that we have a tendency to make simple assumptions only on our experience, but reality is more complex. The term black swan represents rare and unexpected events with high impact.
  2. Michal Truban: .Support – The story about starting a successful webhosting company in Slovakia. Real life stories and interesting advices from a great entrepreneur. Moreover, it was very inspiring for me because they started the company during their university studies at the same university and from the same dormitory as I am now.
  3. J.R.R Tolkien: The Hobbit – I haven’t seen the movies, but to read about the journey of Bilbo was very exciting.

What’s more, I wrote a detailed review for the book Real World Machine Learning and summary for Make it stick, book about successful learning. I also wrote book proposal review for book about data quality by Manning.

MOOCs Online Courses (2)

Culture (4)

  • Kym kohút nezaspieva 23.1.– theatre performance in “real” environment
  • About Belgium stand-up comedy 20.4
  • Silné reči about school 21.9.
  • FIITkárske reči 12.10.

My best ratings for movies (9) on IMDB:

  • The program
  • Frozen
  • Steve Jobs

Travelling (6 countries)

  • Flensburg, Kruså, Hamburg, Berlin 24.-30.1.
  • Luxemburg trip 19.3.
  • Belgium: Leuven, Brussels, Oostende, Liege, Mechelen, Gent, Bruges, Antwerpen, Dinant, Bierbeek, …
  • Switzerland – more in the separate blog post. Jungfraujoch 30.7.- 3571 meters above the sea level.
  • Banská Štiavnica 14.-16.10.
  • Prague 17.-20.11.

Sport

  • Leuven Studenten Marathon 16.3. – 10km run, 47:29 min, 12.63 km/h
  • Volleyball Wednesdays @ KU Leuven
  • Survival of the Student 13.4. – obstacle run
  • Football tournament 9.1. in Považská Bystrica
  • “Okolo Červeného Kameňa” hiking 2.10.
  • Leuven surroundings biking trips – Mechelen, Bierbeek, Bertem, Linden, Lubbeek, Kessel-Lo, Korbeek-Lo, Herent, Holsbeek, Oud-Heverlee, Korbeek-Dijle, …
  • Football – I played 2 matches for my club
  • Skiing - 2x@Kohútka
  • Kart racing

Other interesting stuff

  • StartupAwards 2016 2.12. – we applied with the project Spine Hero, but not successfully, but still great experience.
  • Eset Product Management Academy 14.-16.11. – Workshops about stages of product development – customer research, interviewing, product management, formulating requirements, communication between departments, competitive intelligence, marketing, UX. After academy, I got offered an internship as a product manager at Eset.
  • Researchers night 2016 in Bratislava 30.9. – presenting our project Spine Hero.
  • Stella Artois brewery tour 6.2. – maybe I will write another blog post about it.
  • Nexteria Night of Chances Business conference 30.11. – current topics in business, technologies and moral topics with great speech of Slovak president Andrej Kiska
  • Proton therapy at Paul Scherrer Institute lecture 17.8. – interesting lecture about pros of proton therapy, how to not kill healthy human cells and the therapy of eye cancer.
  • CERN tour 13.8. – a lot of physics stuff about particle collisions, but very interesting
  • student cantus – traditional celebration of students in Belgium, which is about singing and drinking a lot of beer.
  • Slovak parliamentary election voting from Belgium

Final words

The year 2016 was great experience for me. I met great people from all around the world who inspired me. I wish the next year to be as good as the previous. My goals for the next year is to improve my German and to be more physically active.

Written on January 3, 2017