Day 6: Mancala

To go with the theme of programs to solve simple (or sometimes, not so simple) games, I’d like to talk about the game of Mancala today. I grew up playing this game and its always kind of interesting to introduce to people. It involves moving piles of stones around a game board, and using logic and planning to gain the most stones on your side of the board. I was in my advisor’s office at school the other day, and I guess I’ve gotten my love of games and programming from her in some way. Her office is filled with puzzle books and she’s always walking around musing on some problem or other. I saw a mancala board sitting in her office a few days ago, and the idea came upon me to build a program that could function as an AI for Mancala.

To do this, there would have to be some sort of lookahead implemented to analyze possible future moves made by the opponent. While the rules are fairly simple, there are a few unusual things that can happen. It would be interesting to analyze the possible moves from each position, but yet incredibly complex. This is a completely short and untechnical post, but I got a bit distracted and busy today and HECK YEAH OBAMA!

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Day 4: Birthday Thoughts

Welcome back for day 4 of my NaBloPoMo, in which I’m writing one post each day for the month of November. Today is my birthday, and as such I did a bit of personal introspection regarding things I have done over the last year and things I would like to do differently in the next year. Today I am 22 years old. Most would say that’s still pretty young, but for me I feel like I’ve already seen a quarter of my life go by. It’s disheartening to think back on these 22 years of life and realize that wow, I really haven’t done much with myself. I know  people that are much younger and much more successful than I am, already. It makes me feel like perhaps I’m doing something wrong, but I’ve been trying the best I can to work hard and do well.

One thing that I’ve been having a lot of trouble with lately is concentration. My attention span is shot, I can’t stay interested in things, and its becoming increasingly difficult for me to focus on school stuff or even stuff that I want to do. You might say, well that’s normal, everyone gets distracted or procrastinates sometimes, but its really been hindering my quality of work lately. I’ve read all the advice, made plans, tried to work better, but nothing seems to be working. I’m afraid I’m going to fall off the wagon with this blogging challenge too, but I’m determined to keep it up so far. It’s just disappointing, because I can’t seem to finish things that I start and I just get distracted so easily now, its hurting my school life and with me applying for graduate school programs, that’s not a good thing at all. I guess I’ve had a lot on my mind stress-wise what with the grad school thing. I just hope I can pull out of this slump soon.

Sorry for a personal rant of a post again, have been really busy this weekend and also (if you couldn’t tell) have been in a down sort of mood. I still plan to update this blog each day as I go on. Stay tuned for your regularly scheduled math/science posts in the future.

Another year closing in and some things coming up

So here it is, I’m coming up on finishing my third year of college, and I’m thinking to myself, “What have I accomplished?” The answer doesn’t seem like much, but then again, we often forget the little things of our days and old memories become buried under the constant stress of student life. I plan to use this blog to detail my projects both in school and independently and to keep track of my progress.

Things I am working on now:

  • Conducting an experiment for my Experimental Economics class to test the influence of simple decision-making heuristics on a Bayesian choice task
  • Drafting a writeup of my methods and results
  • Pondering over thesis topics for next year
  • Looking into grad schools
  • Studying for the GRE
  • Working at an organization on campus to provide a customized content management system to numerous companies both on campus and externally
  • Also, trying to eat better and go to the gym more often. I’m going to get healthy!

Things I’m doing this summer:

  • Attending an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Clemson University. I’m really excited about this one and will be updating with posts about my work there.
  • Updating here with random programming projects or research ideas I run across.

Check back for updates on student life and research, from a unique female perspective.