Catching Up, Part II: Spring

Keeping to the plan described in the previous post, here’s another post about stuff that happened a while ago! Spring 2018 edition. Hooray.

In no particular order, some stuff that comes to mind:

And here’s a grab bag of elaboration: I took more units than usual, and was pretty hosed throughout the semester (especially and unsuprisingly towards the end). I’ll be generous and attribute my survival to improvements in time-management and/or motivation, rather than dumb luck. My observations about semesterly temporal acceleration continue to hold true.

Interactive Music Systems was awesome. The class is, as the name would imply, about interactive music systems, which for the purposes of the class are defined pretty broadly. It’s about hitting the sweet spot between ‘high-learning curve but highly expressive’ (e.g. traditional instruments) and ‘low-learning curve but highly limited’ (e.g. an MP3 player). It’s also a good excuse to do a lot of neat, fun, audio + graphics programming. As part of the class, we completed coding-based psets and recorded demo videos. Here are mine:

  1. Sine Synthesis
  2. Sampling
  3. Graphics
  4. Arpeggiator
  5. Magic Harp
  6. Guitar Hero

I’ve bolded the coolest ones. The Magic Harp pset is particularly cool because, unlike the others, it didn’t rely on keyboard + mouse input, but was actually motion-controlled via the magic of Leap Motion (not to be confused with LeapFrog or their myriad of Leap___ products.). The Guitar Hero pset is cool because (aside from implementing something resembling a game) I put in some extra time to add 3D Magic!

While on the topic of music classes, I also took 21M.302 (Harmony and Counterpoint II), which introduced me to some interesting new (chromatic!) materials, and helped me actually get down some of the stuff I learned in earlier classes. Some parts of music theory feel kind of like the Fast Fourier Transform: if I keep re-learning them, I’ll eventually get it. Also, I did Concert Choir again, with slightly more confidence. We went to Spain over Spring break, which was awesome and will doubtless make up a good chunk of the pictures I post below.

Speaking of FFTs, I follwed up 6.058 (from IAP) with 6.003 (Signal Processing, formerly Signals & Systems). I luckily(?) took 6.003 just as it changed format (into something along the lines of 6.01), thus continuing my tradition(?) of taking weird experimental versions of what are ostensibly EE classes. It was very hands-on, which was cool, and conveniently involved a bunch of coding (also, surprisingly little in the way of circuits).

I also took Formal Reasoning About Programs (FRAP), a relatively new class on formal verification, taught by my advisor. At times, it felt like a class on wrangling Coq, particularly when mired in some of the more difficult psets at odd (or ordinary, depending on your standards) hours. Nonetheless, it was quite interesting and often challenging (usually in a good way) - perhaps I’ll write more about my thoughts (either on the class or formal verification in general) later. As advertised, office hours were 100% essential, at least in my experience. Also, the TA was great.

I’m getting tired of talking about classes, so I’ll do a disservice to the last one and be brief. 6.S081 (‘Dynamic Computer Language Engineering’) was a wild ride. It started off reasonable, and went off the rails pretty abruptly. While some of the difficulty was definitely of the what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger variety which is probably (arguably?) useful for spurring growth, some of it was also of the understaffed-class, slightly-broken-on-release, or questionably-documented varieties, which was less fun. In any case, the positively heroic struggle my team endured in finishing the final project makes for a decent story, so hey. This was also a relatively new class, and was also a ton of work. On the one hand, my class choices seem maybe questionable in retrospect, but, weighing heavily on the other hand, there’s the platitude that all’s well that ends well. Meh.

Also some other stuff happened, including MakeMIT and a bunch of concerts and a lot of logistical nonsense.

Concluded with an incredible packing marathon, for which I remain in Emma’s debt.

Pictures. There’s a bunch, so most lack alt-text.