Day 17 and 18: SNCURCS – State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium

So I didn’t post yesterday because I was travelling. I was at SNCURCS this weekend (apparently it is pronounced “snickers”, which was news to me) to present some work that I did at my REU last summer. I was pretty nervous because I thought that I didn’t remember the work very well since its been a while since last summer.

As it turned out, the talk went fairly well, even though I had to speed through my slides and risk losing people due to the time constraints. I also realized that \today in LaTeX does in fact print the current date, but only at the last time you compile it. So it ended up the date on my slides showed up as the day before, but no big deal. The group of people that I was presenting with also did graph theory related projects, so I thought that was pretty cool. I saw an interesting presentation  about quantifying and mapping not only our social networks, but also our “meta-network”, which includes shared knowledge and the like. Network science sounds like pretty interesting stuff after hearing him talk about it.

My problem that I presented on was based on a variation of the game Nim but played on mathematical graphs. Instead of removing tokens from a pile we can remove a number of edges connected to a single vertex in the graph. The player that removes the last edge is the winner. We used these rules to analyze and determine the Sprague-Grundy number, or nimber of different states in the game and different types of graphs. I’m planning to do a whole post on this one of these days.

A side note: I’m realizing that this post-every-day schedule has led to some good ideas and writing experience but also has led to (in my opinion) a drop in quality. It was a learning experience for sure, but I’m not going to push myself to get out a post every day for the rest of the month I think. I have graduate school applications and school and work that I need to attend to. I’ll still be posting, I’ll just save up until I have a few good ones. Thanks for reading!

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(Day 2) TwitLit: Classic Literature, 140 characters at a time

Hello and welcome to Day 2 of my NaBloPoMo! Yesterday I talked about the idea of writing a blog post a day all month as a bit of a writing challenge for me.

Today, I’m going to talk about an idea for a programming project that I’ve had, but it has not come to fruition yet. This will be the first of a few “idea dumps” in which I attempt to express my ideas about future projects or things that I find interesting.

In today’s world of ever-connectedness and instant gratification, many people feel that they don’t have time to just sit down and read anymore. But these same people you can see posting on facebook and twitter for a considerable amount of time each day. What if we could turn this around and use social networking and the culture of short and sweet bytes of information to our advantage? What if you could actually *gasp* learn something just from following a twitter account?

My idea for today is for what I’d call TwitLit: Classic Literature 140 Characters at a time. TwitLit is a bot that interacts with twitter to automatically post a 140 character selection from a work of classic literature each day (or possibly, every few hours or so). People who find they “can’t get around to reading” or who have trouble staying focused on long periods of reading can follow the account and although it may take a while, can eventually “read” a book, just by checking the twitter feed.

The implementation details of this are still a bit fuzzy to me, mostly because I literally just thought of this idea yesterday, but I think I’d like to work in Python for this. Some books are really long and it would be difficult to complete a “reading” 140 chars at a time for something like War and Peace, but perhaps shorter books or poetry would work better, as a proof of concept. A bit of preliminary research shows that “Twitterature” has been done before, but from what I can tell, they condense the works into just a few tweets. If I find some spare time in the next few days, maybe I’ll start working on this. What work should I start with?