Sunday, December 27, 2009

Research Assistantship

Again, it's been a long time since I wrote last time. Things went unexpectedly and I've found myself in a position nowhere near I imagined.

I said that I applied Boğaziçi University for masters but although all of my qualifications were well above most of the applicants, I got rejected because that I did not bring a reference letter from my thesis advisor. Well, I went to him and he was off the office so I took the letters from my other professors. I thought these letters would be enough as they even admit students with 2,77 / 4.00 GPA! So reference letter should not have been a major issue. But it seems like it was.

Meanwhile, I had some job interviews but could not find an appropriate position according to my taste :)

Then my ex-professor who transferred to Kadir Has University from Işık University (where my BSc is from) offered me a position in his funded project. I was going to do my masters in Kadir Has University and get paid for working on the project. I accepted and started working. We are working on Graph Drawing and Visualization of Bioinformatics Networks. I'm using Pardus Linux and Python for my implementation works and I'm really happy about that. Thanks to my advisor who lets me be free on choosing my tools.

Our team consists of 3 members: me, my professor Cesim Erten and my ex-school-mate Melih Sözdinler. After I joined the team, I've done the unfinished part of their work and we submitted it to a conference and it got accepted. I'm really happy about that. I'll write about the paper when it's officially published (in February 2010).

My new university is pretty infant compared to my ex but I like it. At least everybody seems to be much more friendly. The biggest problem for me is that it takes 2-3 hours to get there and that much to come back home via public transport although we are in the same city. So I'm going to school on limited days.

Fall term is about to finish. I've taken Parallel Programming from Computer Engineering (my) department and Operating Systems, System Programming courses from IT department. They are mostly homework and presentation based. I've done my presentation on Parallel Sorting algorithms last Friday and it was good.

So, I'm a unofficial research assistant from now on. Great!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back from Carleton, graduated!

Again, it's been a long time since I wrote last time. I've been struggling with writing my extensive Canada diaries in Turkish. So I couldn't write even a word here. I talked about my exchange plans and my final project. Our final project was a late success. It was late because at the first sight, we thought it was unsuccessful. But then I found out that it is indeed successful. We managed to get an error rate of 2.25% after we applied PCA on the channels.

Before finishing the project, I went to Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada. It was the 1st of January and -13*C when I got there. The weather was terrible going down to felt like -32*C. I stayed in the dorms of the university and I liked Carleton except for its dorms with cartoon-seperated walls. The system in university was both similar to and different from Işık University. In the first days, I found it difficult to talk and understand what I hear but after 3 weeks, I got used to it. Lecturers were great and they did their best to make us understand the material. They were welcoming to any kind of problem we faced preventing our studies (I would especially thank Julie Thorpe. She was the greatest instructor I've ever seen in my university life.). They were relax and I saw a nice learning / research environment.

University also provides great facilities to the students. There are over 120 student clubs and they are very active. I should admit that only Computer Society was a bit passive. They organized “Eclipse plug-in development seminar”, a faculty-student meeting, and some movie nights. That might be normal for 4 months but I get this result when I compare it with our club in Turkey.

Of course, I have to talk about Canadian People. They are very kind, respectful, trustworthy and helpful. But they won't talk first unless you start a chat. They are mostly busy people and rush all the day. But the foreigner people are more warm and welcoming. Because of that, most of my friends were non-Canadians.

Ottawa is a really pleasant city. I returned back to Turkey at the end of the April, when the best times of Ottawa had just been starting. It has a wonderful nature. Parks, green fields, waterfalls, bike paths of total 110 km... It is also very safe compared to Toronto. People, even women are not afraid to walk in the late hours of the night. Transportation is very easy. I also visited Toronto (and of course Niagara Falls) but I didn't like Toronto that much. It seems a bit dangerous.

I've been in Canada for 4 months and it was a great experience for me. Living on your own, without anybody you know to help, being obliged to speak only in English, seeing different cultures (Canada is a real mixture of cultures), meeting people from all over the world and of course examining the academic life there. I wanted to apply for Master of Computer Science in Carleton but the envelope carrying my reference letter had been opened by DHL on the way! A note was posted on the package: “This package has been inspected under the supervision of the shipper.”. Shipper seems to be the local carrier company, not my professor! So I could not apply for the masters program. Maybe I might try it later.

Among the other applications I've made, I've been admitted to Master of Artificial Intelligence program in Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. I've been put in waitlist of Purdue University, USA but then rejected because of the limited quota. And finally Sweden central placement system has lost my documents so I was rejected as they said “you haven't finished university, you haven't taken Algebra and Programming courses...”!

Returning back to Turkey, I graduated and I applied for Master of Computer Engineering in Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. Now I'm between KUL and Boğaziçi. KUL will be more costly for me and recently we're facing liquidity problems. So it seems my next university will be Boğaziçi.