I’ve been an official Master of AI student for almost two months now and I haven’t posted about it yet. Shame on me.
At least this proves I’ve been busy. The number of classes has gone up significantly since last year (which isn’t really hard considering I only had 4 hours per week back then), and I also have to make my way to the Campus in Heverlee every time there’s a class. 20 minutes per trip, so that’s 40 or 80 minutes on the road depending on my schedule.
So, what’s it like being an AI Master? It’s certainly not as cool as it sounds, that’s for sure. At the same time, it’s also more interesting than I had expected. Since everyone I talked to seemed to be saying that the AI courses were boring, I feared the worst, but it turns out most classes are pretty okay.
There are, of course, exception. Like Neural Computing. While the principle of neural computing is real interesting (create artificial neural networks that “learn” how to solve a problem), the course itself is not. This is supposed to be a high-level course (so it should be understandable for people with totally different backgrounds), but the professor apparently assumes we know advanced mathematics. I’m pretty sure 80% of the students don’t know what he’s talking about most of the time, though. I hadn’t heard about eigenvectors for six years and he brings them up without even bothering to explain what they are or why they’re useful for neural networks. Luckily, there’s articles that explain what the professor’s saying, but shouldn’t it be the other way around? So yes, I’m a bit scared about the Neural Computing exam.
The other courses I have are Linguistic Theories and AI, which describes a grammar you can use for natural language processing, Fundamentals of AI, which is about basic search algorithms and planning techniques and stuff, Cognitive Science, Speech Synthesis and Speech Recognition. These are all okay. There’s nothing as awesome as last year’s English literature courses, but it’s interesting enough to keep me motivated. And it’s only one year, after all.
I also have to do an internship this year, and I recently received the list of possible companies/research centers I could be working in. I got four propositions, and only one of them is a company, which is pretty disappointing. And that company also happens to be located in some hard to reach place in Ghent, so it would take me 2 hours every morning to get there. The other three are research groups, the most interesting of which is probably the Center for Computational Linguistics, which is conveniently located near my old faculty. I also know quite a few people who work there.
I’m waiting for more information on each of the possible internships, (maybe) I’ll keep you posted.
In other news, I’m also taking Japanese classes at the CLT. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I never had the opportunity. It’s fun, but it’s sometimes frustratingly simple. We learn like five signs and five words per week, and maybe one or two phrases. Slow~ The CLT apparently doesn’t believe in teaching grammar, they prefer a more “practical” approach. This has the annoying consequence that you end up knowing a few key phrases, but you don’t know how they’re constructed so you can’t actually form any new ones.
Anyway, I’m having fun. It’s like being in middle school again.