Friday May 29, 2009:
Today marks the end of my first week here at Georgia Tech. I arrived on Monday, not knowing even where my Mentor's office was located, but I can now say I'm an experienced commuter to campus. I'm on the northeast side of campus, working in a relatively new building called the Klaus Advanced Computing Building, or the KACB for short. This is a beautiful sweeping building seems to be a new focus on campus. Here is a picture:
My fellow DREU research partner is Elisa Chang, a Williams student who is working on the other project dealing with power in CPU/GPU set-ups.
As of now, I'm still reading and doing research in order to better understand my project. With quite a few STL tutorials in hand, I'm doing a quick touch-up on my C++ templating skills.
I must admit that there is a bit of fear on my part that I won't be able to understand all that I'm doing but the PhD studenst that are working with us are very encouraging and nice. Surely, if I have a problem, I think I can ask them, either that or Hyesoon.
Another thing: It seems that as part of being a research intern here, Elisa and I are also now part of the CRUISE program here at Georgia Tech, which is another REU activity, of sorts. Because of this, we get to attend weekly seminars concerning emerging topics in Computing Research. Today, in fact, we're attending our first one!
Post Seminar: The seminar was fine. It dealt with HPC, or High Performance Computing, which is one subject whose importance these days in quite great. The talk, held by Prof. Vuroc was quite intriguing and made me see matrix multiplication in a very different light. It's scary when optimal matrix multiplication code is over 850 lines long. Or maybe that's just me...
Friday June 5, 2009:
One more week has passed and we're finally getting into the main information about our simulator. Our MACSIM simulator is one which computes as a computer with one or more cores and relays how many processes it took to execute a certain number of instructions. This simulator also seems to be used with Elisa's project concerning power usage between GPU/CPU configurations. This past week, I've finished brushing up on my Standard Template Library knowlege, followed up with more information about control flow and the basics of the x86 ISA.
This week, Hyesoon has emphasized lecture meetings in which we learn more about processors' functionality, including parallelization, which is a topic of great concern now since it is the way in which faster computing is going towards. Each day, we meet for about an hour to learn about execution pipelines, out-of-order executions, and the need for reorganizing executions. I feel I've learned an overwhelming lot but I still feel like it is the tip of the iceberg. I'm excited, that's for sure.
The lab is becoming more homely as I bring in my programming books, have lunch, fill up my drawers with stuff, and have a nice stack of papers to read and refer to. This past weekend, I went to go see Pixar's Up, which reminded me so much as to why I fell in love with Computer Science in the first place. Believe it or not, when I was young, I dearly wanted to be a computer animator, and as I grew up, video games became another animation inspiration. But before any of that can happen, I should get down to business and do some research.
I'll definitely post more as the weeks progress and I'm getting closer in working with our project.
<<< p.s. I like to mess around quite a bit.
Friday June 12, 2009:
Going into the fourth week, I'm feeling like I've learned so much. It basically goes like this: If you're reading a research paper and you come across an idea you don't understand,
find a research paper about the topic. This recursive action continues on until you understand the paper you were first reading!
It's really not that bad, and it's really fun. I've learned about developments that have happened that I didn't even know about. I guess I take computer architecture for granted as Computer Scientist because we code on the belief that the computer and compiler will work and be as quick as we need it to be.
Not so. Reading about compilers and actual execution of code has been wonderful and I truly appreciate what occurs with every clock rate.
Oh yes, and I found a random Georgia Tech decorative license plate while walking to campus one day, see below!
On a fun note, today our CRUISE program had a Cookout in front of Klaus where we ate burgers, played frisbee, threw water balloons and ate peach pie. Oh yes, this is Georgia.
I also had a great adventure today saving four mockingbird chicks that fell out of their nest after it broke up. Thankfully, I fixed the nest and the babies are back in there.
I'll definitely be checking up on them these next few days to ensure they are fine. Sadly, I've no pictures of the birds but Elisa did manage to take one. Maybe I'll ask her to give me a copy soon.
On the food front, it goes well. There's nothing like buying toilet paper at a grocery store to remind you that you're an adult, I tell you. Dorm/Campus life is still protected, and people clean up after you and such. But here, with this apartment, I get to do it all and I realize it's a handful. Dishes await me upon my return; oh sigh.
Friday June 19, 2009:
This is the weekend in which Hyesoon, SunPyo, JaeKyu, and a host of others will be away on a conference trip to Austin, Texas to attend ISCA. SunPyo will be presenting his research there and we've been practicing his speech with him and giving him suggestions on how to make it better and such. Also, I've been keeping an eye on the birds that I saved the other day.
I'm happy to announce that they are more than fine and now walking around in the bushes, waiting for their parents to feed them. Soon, they will be old enough and strong enough to fly and that's when the fun begins. The only problem is that their nest is relatively close to the road but I hope that they'll move more inside the apartments, where they will be much safer and protected.
<<< Oh, and I promised a picture of my birdies, here it is! I named him Bobby Tables after this.
Researching is really difficult, I've found out. It basically ends up being that neverending process which I've mentioned in the past post. I'm now learning more about branch predictors and also control flow analysis. Minjang is now away in South Korea for the next three weeks so all the help I'll have is from Hyesoon, who's also now gone too. But it's fine. This is such a lesson in self-discipline, as we are so free to do whatever in the lab. It has made me really have to be dedicated to get work done, or else, I find myself doing nothing. Sure this is fun, but not very productive, don't you think?
Friday June 26, 2009:
Now on the menu, the creation of a branch predictor. Before she left, Hyesoon taught both Elisa and I the basics about a bimodal branch predictor and the gshare branch predictor, which is a bit more advanced. My task now is to create a pin tool which inserts instructions and gives me information about branches that occur so I can predict what happens and see the effectiveness of my branch predictor. Also, as I was walking toward the lab, I saw this in a bulletin outside the big auditorium space in Klaus.
Intel's Pin tool isn't so much scary, as it is powerful. The API is massive and I have little background knowledge about the names of call functions and such but I'm trying. Initially, I got the wrong idea and was making a branch predictor which didn't use Pin at all, big mistake. Well, I at least know now that I still have a knack for making C/C++ mini-programs on the fly! Elisa and I are hanging out together quite a lot and we're still doing our weekly food get-togethers,which always end up being so delicious and absolutely fun.
It's very nice because while she takes some of the food home, some stays with me and helps feed me for the rest of the week. I'm a lazy cook. What can I say? Oh, and I desperately need to buy a new shower curtain. What is it about guys and using things up until they're barely functional anymore? I think twice before buying anything for the apartment, because I remember that it will stay there while I go. But I think it's fine, sometimes because while I buy things for the place, I use things that are already there. Cooking oil, dishwashing liquid, everything is there, which I didn't need to buy. Thank goodness this place is already furnished, it is such a relief.
Brandon, my fellow roommate, will only be here for one more week, so after that, I will be alone. It's kind of scary but kind of liberating too. We have very different lifestyles and hours. Did I mention he ate one of my lean cuisines? I mean, I don't mind, but it's kind of annoying. That's one thing we seem to learn around this time, to deal and learn to live with others.
Friday July 3, 2009:
On Thursday, I came home to an empty apartment. All of Brandon's stuff was gone and half the apartment seemed empty. What did I do that night? I had a big long movie night, which was quite relaxing in all truth. I now have Brandon's keys and such to return upon my leaving Atlanta. I am now done with June and am moving on to my last month left here. I have 4 weeks left and it feels surreal. In 4 weeks, I'll be on a flight back home.
On that note, maybe I should get some more work done. I'm reaching quite a few dead ends with my pin tool but I feel I can't do much about it. Hyesoon right now has a lot of meetings and such and I feel so annoying to be asking her for a bit of help. She does come by though, every couple of days and ask me about my progress. I still sometimes fear I'm a bit slow, but of course, I started computer science later than most people, since I acquired a like for it in college and then made it my definite major. Sometimes I fear I don't have enough skill compared to most other students but I still try. I may not be a natural programmer but I'm here and I'm typing away. That counts for something, don't you think?
I forgot to mention that today is actually a holiday so there was no need to go to the lab today. This weekend, Elisa and I hope to explore Lenox mall, where we both need to buy some clothing articles and maybe mosey around and see what's on sale. It's the 4th of July weekend so something must be up, we hope. I dearly need to buy new pairs of jeans, let's see how low the economy can lower the prices on them :)
Friday July 10, 2009:
So a bit of sad news, Mama, our oldest cat back home in San Antonio, had been killed on the 4th of July. Rather than Elisa and I going to go see fireworks around town, I stayed home to console my mother on the phone. It hurts to know that I will not see her when I get back home. Mama was our oldest cat, she was 11 years old and was so feisty. She was the first cat that befriended us when we moved into our present neighborhood. It's been a week now but it's so hard. I think it'll definitely nice to go back home in order to be able to converse and talk to my mother.
This is definitely an off week. I don't have much to say workwise and home life is pretty ridiculous at the moment. On the day we went to the Mall though, we did make a stop at Sublime Donuts, which had the most amazing and delicious donuts. Mine were cinnamon twist and a s'mores donut; amazing! From left to right is Elisa, SunPyo, Nagesh, and I.
Friday July 17, 2009:
Minjang has been back for a few days now! He's helping me more than ever to get ready and finish my Branch Predictor before I have to present on Wednesday the 22nd of July. CRUISE, the umbrella program we're under, is technically ending on the 22nd/25th of July but since Elisa and I got here a week later, we're not leaving until the 31st. All of us though, still have to present about our research on the 22nd. Our presentation consists of a 12-minute powerpoint plus 3 minutes for questions and answers.
Sheila, our director, is getting everything ready for the event and our lab is also helping us by making Elisa, Amanda, and I do some dry runs of our presentations on the Monday before the talk. My slideshow is going well but I feel it's more information and background knowledge than actual doing. It's fine though, I'm still learning so much and I'll definitely be comfortable on the subjects of control flow, branch prediction, and predication. It's kind of stressful to get ready for this but we must do it. I'm getting to realize how important it is for grad students to convey their ideas and research to others who may not have any hands-on knowledge of what we are doing.
It seems esssential to be able to explain ideas succintly and clearly for everyone to understand. No wonder grad students are given teaching jobs at University! Not only does it help us, it helps them! I've been thinking about maybe doing research in the future in an academic setting rather than in industry. I think it would be nice to not only keep researching, but to instill in others a love of computer science. I know for a fact that it was my great professor, Adam Cannon, which motivated me to select this as my major. Jae Woo Lee, my Advanced Programming teacher of last semester, was also very important in making me continue, maybe even in the systems path. Jae, also a PhD student, rocked in being able to convey ideas. I hope I'm as good as him when I have to teach a class :)
On a totally different side note, I forgot to mention that at Columbia I'm learning Finnish. Now, Finland is a land of only about 5 million people, and to see a Finn or hear the language is very rare. But for some reason, outside my apartment was this car, which had quite distinctive markings. It was just so odd, but a coincidence that I will never forget; never have I seen such license plates and I doubt I ever will. Oh, and for those who don't know, "sisu" in Finnish means "guts"; it is said that Finns have quite a bit of guts for surviving winter, being hardy, and giving the world the sauna ;)
Friday July 24, 2009:
This past Wednesday was our final presentation as part of the CRUISE program here at Georgia tech. All of us, about 12 in all, had individual or group presentations that described what we did this summer, how it passed, and what we had learned. I had the most horrible time with this because I needed a DVI-to-VGA dongle for my macbook pro but the one that I got was faulty. The next one was too! So in the end, I presented at around noon, when my scheduled time was at 10:30 AM.
I must say, Elisa looked great in her business casual dress, very far off from our usual sweats-and-tshirts dress code in the lab (We're grad student-ish already!). Here is a picture of us all fashionable. Elisa is the one in front with the lovely skirt and I'm wearing the raspberry-colored oxford shirt in the center.
By this time next Friday, I'll actually be back in San Antonio, so I'm slowly but surely emptying my desk, returning books to Hyesoon, and trying to put things in order before I leave. There is so much food left in my house that I swear I'll have to eat constantly just to consume it all. As part of a treat though, I think I'll get some nice steaks from Publix and have that as a farewell dinner. Now that the presentation is over, it all feels really calm. Most people in the CRUISE program apart from Elisa and I have already left or will leave this Sunday. So really, we're all alone. Elisa leaves a few days after me so I'll be leaving here alone :(
Before though, we will bum!
This is a work in progress.