01 Jan 2011
This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2010.
I completed all the required graduate classes (22 credits). Furthermore, I was TA in the Data Structures class, a requirement from my scholarship (CNPq). I would like to be TA again either on MC102, MC202 or MC448. However, the time it took me during the semester showed that I may not be able to finish the master’s degree in time if I do it again.
Another activity I got involved in this semester was as coach for Unicamp’s programming contest teams. Before the OBI (Brazilian Olympics) test took place, I was kind of absent and other people from the club gave lessons to the freshmen. However, after OBI, I started to prepare classes and select exercises for specific topics. I put all these problems on a scoreboard, to monitor who was solving the problems.
To my disappointment, few people were willing to train hard and most students solved less than half of the problems that were being proposed (45). I continued preparing classes, but the presence of students diminished until there were two or three students left, who attended classes but did not do extra-class work.
I ended up losing the motivation to prepare the classes and, added to the lack of time to dedicate to the masters, the World Finals and the fact that I fell ill at the end of the semester, made me interrupt training earlier than planned.
At the beginning of next semester, there will be the Unicamp selective. I hope that with the teams formed, there is greater interest on the part of students in training and who knows, I am motivated to study and go back to preparing classes.
All these extra activities took me a considerable amount of time and because I spent about a month training at USP and two weeks in the world marathon final in China, it’s already certain that I won’t be able to finish my master’s degree in the 1 year and a half that was my goal in the beginning.
In the second semester, the local qualifications of ICPC took place. We had two teams qualified for the Brazilian finals that took place in Joinville (Santa Catarina) and our best team was 9th place, but because a school can only send one team to the World Finals, we were really 7th in the line. Unfortunately, the number of spots were 6!
The ICPC commitee allocates a number of seats (which changes from year to year) for Latin America as a whole. It is then up to the regional directors to distribute them among the different sites. There are the following major regions in Latin America: 1) Brazil, 2) the rest of South America and Mexico, 3) Central America.
Currently, the distribution is proportional to the number of participating schools in each headquarters. As this year there was an increase in the number of schools in countries like Cuba, the new distribution ended up worse for Brazil.
In the end, we missed going to Egypt by one position, but at least this year they invited all the medalists to participate in the summer camp that will take place again at USP. The three competitors from the Unicamp Alpha team confirmed their presence.
Early in the semester, a friend from the laboratory, Mário, invited me to play badminton at FEF. It was already quite late and there were few vacancies. The ones that were left had an inconvenient schedule, so I decided to take a look at other sports. I ended up opting for swimming classes, at a dangerous time: from 11am to noon.
I went to swimming school when I was little, but I didn’t learn to swim, only enough not to drown. In the swimming classes, the teacher taught front crawl (freestyle), breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly strokes. I only really learned freestyle and the breaststroke. In backstroke I find it difficult to swim straight and in butterfly I can’t figure out the breathing.
I intend to take the intermediate class next semester, but I have to pass a practical test, which basically consists of swimming 350 meters in 12 minutes.
I’ll take this opportunity to do a retrospective on the blog. I started writing it in January 2009, still on the blogspot.com domain. At the time, I was writing about my undergraduate research studies on Approximation Algorithms. I ended up deleting these posts (unfortunately I lost their content… it would be nice to reread).
Then I got discouraged and started making sporadic posts. In the first half of 2010, I decided to post about the Data Structure classes I was preparing. This provided a higher posting frequency, around 2-3 times a month. Then, during break, I had a lot of free time and ended up posting a lot about content that I was studying or had studied.
I started to see in these posts an interesting way to motivate me to study (because I like to write), to improve the understanding of the subject (there are times when we’re going to explain something we realize that we don’t understand some detail) and a way to store the content, which I can review it if I forget. For these reasons, I made a commitment to post every week! Sometimes it’s hard to find a subject to write about or the week is too busy, but I’ve managed to keep this practice up until now :)
Also, I consider the hypothesis that the content posted can help other people. The blog has had an average of 20 hits a day, but unfortunately most of the terms searched on search engines that lead to the blog have nothing to do with it.
One of the big problems is that most of the subjects I post are content related to my master’s degree, that is, they are very specialized for those who are only looking for brief references on the internet (in general, people with more specific interest go after papers). Occasionally I’ve written about more introductory subjects like Branch and Cut, the Dijkstra’s algorithm, and Graph Coloring. Confirming my hunch, these are the posts with the most hits on the blog.