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Back to School (Friday, August 31, 2007)

So it's been a while since I updated, and things have changed a bit since my last entry. I had a very enjoyable summer consulting in Charlotte, but I have finally come to the realization that despite my apparent ability, perhaps writing software is not the best way for me to make a living. Therefore, several years later than might have been ideal, I have sucked up the ninety percent pay cut, and returned to George Mason University as a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Computer Science Department. It is with no small amount of irony that I've been assigned to the introductory Software Engineering class as the teaching assistant, but at least the professor, Dan Fleck, is very cool, and will likely make the class a lot of fun. Which is good, since I'm probably going to be a bit of a tyrant while grading the students' papers.

As for my own classes, I was originally signed up for a class in Robotics, the introductory graduate Operating Systems class, an advanced class in Concurrent Software Systems, and a course in Machine Learning. Of course it would be impossible to take four graduate courses while being a teaching assistant, so I knew that if I accepted my appointment, I'd have to drop one. Unfortunately, I chose to drop the Machine Learning class, despite how much I'd like to take it, because I think that I can only handle one really hard math class in a semester, and Sean Luke's Robotics class is filling that role. I only found out later that the Machine Learning professor, Carlotta, is Sean's wife. That's all the endorsement I need, but discretion is the better part of valor, and I'm going to wait for a semester that isn't quite so challenging before I attempt that class.

And speaking of challenging, after last night's Operating Systems class, I received an e-mail from the professor, Hakan Aydin, suggesting that, considering my performance in his undergraduate version of the class, I might want to consider taking a more advanced class. I had signed up for the class, because it had been a required class for the program, though the requirements have now changed, and also because it is a prerequisite for some of the other more advanced courses, like the Concurrent Software Systems course. So in consideration of Professor Aydin's advice (and the fact that I'm already ignoring the prerequisites), I decided to trade in Operating Systems for a more advanced class.

When I first received my teaching assistantship assignment, I had been tasked with the undergraduate Computer Graphics course, taught by Jim Chen. I had a lot of success in that class, and I was really looking forward to working with Professor Chen again, but unfortunately, they changed the assignment at the last minute. So I was talking with Professor Chen about it, and I told him I'd probably end up taking his graduate graphics class next semester, and with no small amount of irony, he suggested the same thing that Professor Aydin did — that considering my success in the undergraduate version, perhaps I should consider a more advanced class. However, unlike the Operating Systems class, the graduate version of Computer Graphics counts toward the "advanced" course requirement, and also fulfills a breadth requirement for me. Also, I had the misfortune of losing almost all of the cool work I had done for the undergraduate version of the class, and this class would give me the opportunity to re-learn what I did before, and improve upon it.

I'm sure there are other interesting things that I should talk about, but I'm busy enjoying the FIBA Americas Championship game between the two best teams in the tournament — the United States and Argentina, although with the Argentinian team not fielding some of their best stars in this tournament, the United States has a commanding lead. But it's fun to watch the home team win.

—Brian (8/31/2007 01:47 AM)
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