Take Three

August 31, 2017. A period when we just finished our Spring 2017 term at UWaterloo. It wasn’t a term similar to I had for any term I had in the past, but I love it.

The research journey is itself an adventure. There were busy moments when I had to stay back at night (for a few minutes) to run a graph in my office that would last overnight; there were also seemingly ‘free time’: not because I had finished my task and had no new tasks awaiting, but because all I could do was to simply sit in my office for a whole afternoon, loaded with frustrations of having my thought processes were screwed up unequivocally while generating insights. The main motivation that kept me moving forward was the anxious waiting before the screen for the running time, and the subsequent lovely moments where I could boast about the improvements on running time compared to the otherwise inefficient algorithms. Thanks to my supervisor Khaled, I also learned to probe the reason “why are some algorithms better than others”.

One of the very few days when I appeared in my office at 9pm

There’s another reason that I really like the term: finally a term without the toil of assignments, midterms, finals–unlike the previous two terms during which ‘grades chasing’ had driven me to delirium. In the past two terms I escaped Waterloo exactly twice: once to Toronto and the other time to Niagara Falls; in the previous term itself I landed myself at Toronto thrice and Canada’s Wonderland once. It’s no question that my research days could make me stay busy, but at the very least, weekends–the two days out of seven, were completely mine.

Escape to Toronto on Canada Day
Viewing from CN tower — 340 meters!
WhatsApp Image 2017-06-24 at 21.17.02
360 deg flip at Wonderland (don’t freak out!) (Photo credits to a new friend :P)
Yet another attraction at Wonderland: we started off with the hardest ones!

Equally interesting were the leisure sessions I had with my peers in the same position as me: work term. These were primarily board games session held at the residential area of two of them, coupled with a few ping pong tournaments with rules uniquely suited for novices like us. The games themselves are nothing special; what’s extraordinary was the opportunity to have fun without worrying about our studies.

WhatsApp Image 2017-07-22 at 23.25.58
New ping pong rule: 3 vs 1 + 2 referees

On a more productive side, I finally had the time to do my first round of revamp on my personal website, with HTML being the primary language used (and CSS/Javascript for aesthetic purposes). The decision to explore into basic web development came after I had my first draft of my own website, developed after my first Malaysian Computing Olympiad training camp, after which I asked myself “this is rather primitive, why not make a better one?” My current version isn’t anywhere near a good product as compared to peers who already have years of experience in this: a constructive feedback I receive was “why even doing this if you don’t design your website at all?” Nevertheless, at least I can appreciate it as a means of demonstrating myself as a person with selected few passion: mathematics, teaching, writing, competitive coding and music. Accompanying this is the joy of working on the IMO problems, where I achieved my own record of solving 25 problems for one set of shortlisted problems (2016). The details have been said in the past posts; I simply savour the time that I couldn’t have otherwise squeezed out during study terms.

To close my post, thanks to the peers who could make me to be crazy together with them with various after-hours activities in my work term, and also others whom I met in UW who made my freshman experience in UW a positive one. Hoping for yet another great terms ahead!

As usual, the Thank Mr. Goose prayer is mandatory here


1 thought on “Take Three

  1. I like your descriptions of your thought process while solving these difficult IMO problems! We don’t see enough of that nowadays — I wish I had something like this when I was studying for olympiads in high school.

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