Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Quick Update

The meetings have been productive. Much of the dataset is complete: we have collected reviews from over 100 applications from top 100 lists on the Google Play store. Theresa and I have been experimenting with different methods of sentiment analysis including Natural Language Processing (our initial focus) and support vector machines (a side experiment).

Dr. Zheng has pointed us in a more focused direction. We're going to test the sentiment analysis on all of the apps that the developers we collected have created. After giving each app a sentiment score, we will create an aggregate score for the developer. This aggregate score will be compared to the overall developer score. In particular, we are looking at developers that have earned the "Top Developer" badge as more interesting examples.

We hope to test this method on the dataset this week!


Tapia Conference Update

I recently attended ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. The conference was very enlightening and enjoyable. It was very refreshing to get to discuss topics in Computer Science with individuals in fellow minority groups.

Many of the talks were non-technical but fascinating. One talk in particular was on using Twitter as a medium to empower minority women in STEM.
Khalia Braswell (pictured right) led a "Twitter Chat" during the workshop. Individuals participating in the workshop (or anyone with the correct hashtag) could participate in a Q/A session via Twitter. Individuals could share their success stories with other members of the chat. Some example questions were:
Q1: At what moment did you feel most Empowered to pursue/remain in STEM?! Q2: What helped you overcome the most challenging moment you had in STEM?
The workshop shared some great ideas about using social media to connect numerous small groups that are all dedicated to the same cause. Thank you Khalia for the experience!

There were many interesting companies fully or partially attending the conference. Microsoft showed off one of its products: Microsoft Power BI. The demonstration provided some amazing visualizations. The presentation made me realize just how far we have come with data visualization.

SocialVPN was a project spearheaded by the workshop speaker
The second day of the conference provided more technical workshops. I attended an interesting instructional workshop on using the internet privately in the age of NSA Spying. The talk was very informative and I learned a lot about tools that I did not know existed such as SocialVPN

I met some interesting people throughout the conference. I enjoyed discussing classes with other students attending the conference; it really gave me a way to gauge my education at New Mexico Tech as compared to much larger schools.

Perhaps the most academically fulfilling moment was during a conversation I had with a student attending Cornell about class size. The student told me that when she started, there were hundreds of individuals in her classes. She thought that this number would get smaller as she went on with her degree. Much to her surprise, the class sizes did not shrink. This made me really appreciate the small class sizes that I have experienced at New Mexico Tech. In my classes, most of the professors know your name and the class sizes are often below 20 people. When I told the student this, she was shocked; she told me I was very fortunate to be able to learn in such a close-knit environment. I am now more appreciative of the quality of education that I am getting at New Mexico Tech.

Overall, the conference was a very fulfilling experience. I talked with a lot of interesting individuals and shared conversation on interesting topics in computer science. In addition, I learned just how useful resources such as Twitter can be in communication and networking. Given the chance, I would like to attend the conference again next year.

Randy Van Why