*bzzt* *bzzt* Resuming broadcasting…

October 16, 2003

It’s been two months since I last posted here. I got out of the habit about the time that I left MN to go back down to FL for the school year, and have been playing catch up ever since. It’s been something that has been high on my todo list, but never actually accomplished for a while. Now, I just finished attending the the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference in Portland, OR. Since I told quite a few people about my blog, and I’d like it if they actually wanted to read what I have to say, and this requires that I have something to say for them to read, it is definitely time for me to post. The first thing I want to talk about is a rundown of the projects I’m working on. All of these are things that will probably be showing up in future entries.

  1. Classes — I’ve got three classes that I’m registered for this semester: Computer Networks, Fundamentals of Computer Security, and Swarm Intelligence. Things are going well in all of them.
  2. Swarm Project — In my swarm intelligence class, there are only two students. We each have a project we’re working on. Mine is to create a simulator where robots try to find their way out of a room with inner walls making things more difficult. There will be 5 different controllers to pick from. The first is each robot simply wanders around randomly. The second method is for the robots to have a shared mental map that they use to navigate. The third has each robot maintaining its own map and broadcasting wall locations to robots within a certain radius when it encounters a new wall. The fourth way keeps the individual maps, but robots only share information when they collide. The fifth way is to actually use a swarm intelligence method. The robots initially wander around randomly but they remember the path they take. When a robot finds the door, it lays down a pheromone trail along the path that it took. When the other robots come across the pheromone trail, they may or may not follow it (the stronger the pheromone, the more likely they are to follow the trail). Originally, this was going to be done in Java with a Java3D UI in front of it. Now it’s looking like it might be done in StarLogo (which will be far easier). The plan is to use the simulator to determine the benefits of the various approaches in terms of efficiency in getting the robots out.
  3. Dissertation/PhD — I haven’t completed the application for the PhD program yet, but I’m making some progress on the dissertation side. I recently finished reading Robert Sternberg’s Thinking Styles which describes his theory of mental self-government. According to the model, a person is going to prefer to be executive (doing things), legislative (creating things), or judicial (critiquing things). Then, within that preference, a person will be monarchic (focused on one goal and one goal only), hierarchic (having a structured hierarchy of prioritized goals), oligarchic (split amongst multiple goals without a clear sense of priority), or anarchic (no clear focus). A person will also have a preference between conservative and liberal (not the political leanings, but I forget what they mean in the model at the moment) and a preference between global and local (big-picture or detail oriented). I liked the book quite a bit actually.
  4. Blog admining — I’ve taken over the job of blog admin for the lab. We had a recent incursion of comment spam, and I’ve been learning how MovableType works.
  5. TAing — Cem is teaching a course on test-driven development and I’m his teaching assistant.
  6. Other miscellaneous things — I’m involved in various other projects around school too.

    So, I’m staying busy. Things are good though and I’ll be resuming posting on a more regular schedule again.

    Coming next: a post about PNSQC.

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