I recently finished a 10-week research visit at Stanford, working under Prof. Jure Leskovec. Here’s a short summary of my visit, and you’ll soon be able to read more about the research I did there. You can also check out my facebook photo album. After settling in on campus in the graduate residences, I went around to look at everything Stanford has to offer. Its architecture is unifying and gives it a very distinguished look, Some of its most beautiful buildings are the Huang Engineering Quad, the Oval, the church, and the main Quad. One of our main excursions was the visit to San Francisco. Me, Vid, Jose, and Klemen Kotar gathered at Uber headquarters for a workshop, after which we toured all around the city, walking along the famous Market St with its abundance of skyscrapers, the financial district, as well as going all around the coast on Embarcadero St, passing by the seals, from where we could see the infamous Alcatraz, and even get a glimpse of the Golden Gate bridge from afar, shrouded in the characteristic San Franciscan fog that envelops the tall buildings even midday. We also visited Lombard St, the “crookedest” street in SF, as well as the chocolate factory Ghirardelli, where we got some free chocolate! The week after, me and Vid went with France and Mia Rode to a picnic to the Twin Pines Park in Belmont, where many 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation Slovenians gathered for an afternoon of pleasant company and good food. […]

Kangaroo Math Medal(s)

The Kangaroo Math Competition is a well-known international math competition designed for kids up to and including high school. However, for the first time this year, Slovenia’s math and physics society decided to host one for college students as well. Consisting of a both regional and state level, the first one was a qualifying match to get one of the spots in the state one (the whole of Slovenia). Luckily, I managed to get a bronze medal in the regionals and got to go the finals. Even more luckily, I snagged a silver medal at the state level, even though I probably solved half as many questions! In any case, it was a really great experience (both competitions) and I got to practice my math and logic skills, which were getting rusty in a computer science major /s.

My first journal submission just got accepted! It was a final improved and polished version of the segmentation work I presented at ERK last year. The arXiv preprint is available for now, but the final version will be published when the paper appears in this year’s Elektrotehniški vestnik (Journal of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). The main differences between this version and the previous conference paper are the improved accuracy, and the added different pre-processing algorithms, as well as a more overall polished method.

Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century Now that I got your attention…It seems like everyone and their manager wants a data scientist in their company to boost profits and use #bigdata, yet there does not seem to be a good definition of what a data scientist is supposed to do or even what kind of knowledge and expertise he/she must possess. From Drew Conway’s famous Venn diagram that probably oversimplifies things, to the recent length discussion on CrossValidated, the aptly-named stack exchange for statisticians, that probably overcomplicates it, I will not try to present a succinct, yet encompassing definition which is just going to get lost in the sea of failed attempts. But we can at least enumerate the plethora of inter-disciplinary skills that data scientists are expected to have. The degree requirements alone showcase the versatility of this position,  ranging from a degree in any of the following: Computer Science, Statistics, Applied Math, Physics, Engineering, or basically any quantitative field. On top of this, the degree can also be either a BSc, MSc or PhD in any of these areas. Now, turning to the skills, we can split them into a few broad areas of expertise, and the more the better when it comes to a candidate possessing them. So basically, you’re expected to be familiar with every concept described below. Computer Science R & Python – You want a scripted language for fast prototyping, and these two are equipped with excellent data manipulation (numpy, pandas) and visualization (ggplot, matplotlib), in addition to machine […]

This is one of those books that completely change your outlook on a topic, and the topic of this books was none other than evolution. I had no idea this was Dawkins’s most famous book before reading it. And I had no idea he was such an accomplished biologist. This book could be best described as one long and incredibly detailed account of how the core of evolution is the replication of genes. Interestingly, this book had been written as both an original academic text and a popularization of the same theory, so it is probably as close as we could get to reading actual research in this area. Even though it is almost 40 years old, it does not feel dated at all. As with Steven Pinker’s book on the decline of violence, the whole text serves to hammer a single important point. In this one, it is that the main replicators are the genes (and not the species, as commonly imagined). He tries to conjure up all possible criticisms of this theory, far beyond a simple strawman, and then addresses each one. This is one of those books that really stick with you, and I definitely recommend it.  

Dean’s commendation for academic success

This year I received an award given out to the students with the highest grade average of the past year. I was honored to receive the award, of course, but I was also delighted about the book I got (where they put the certificate as the first page). In an incredible coincidence the book awarded — Richard Dawkin’s “The Selfish Gene” — was exactly the book I was currently reading on my e-book reader. Although I was halfway through the book at the time, it was a joy to have the rare experience of reading a book in paper format. A full review of the book will be coming soon.

Presented a short paper on machine learning algorithms at this year’s Information Society multiconference. It was a continuation of a project for my Machine Learning course. Prof. Bosnić and I looked at which feature selection techniques and which machine learning algorithms work best for gene microarray data, which has very few observations and many features (genes). The most interesting finding was that genes that were predictive of one cancer were also predictive on other data sets with different types of cancer. Our paper can be found in the proceedings under the Intelligent Systems section (Volume A, pp. 17). More info at my research page.

I just finished reading Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. He presents his viewpoint that the rate of violence has been steadily declining for as long as we have records of it. Being a well-respected professor and researcher, he references a plethora of sources, of almost unimaginable extensiveness, to back up his every claim. From reduction of wars between nations, to civil wars, to homicides, and even to child corporal punishment, he shows that our world has indeed become more peaceful through the ages. Moreover, he brings mathematical rigor to the table and quantifies the probability of starting a war, conflict escalation, as well as duration, among other violent incidents, such as terrorist attacks. All this strengthens his claim and leaves little room for pessimists and their gloomy outlook of the future. I recommend it to anyone who thinks otherwise, and if you need more convincing, you can also check out Bill Gates’s excellent review.

A bit overdue, but (the bulk of) the work I did for my thesis was finally presented at this year’s IEEE ERK (Electrotechnical and Computer Science) conference at Portorož, Slovenia. I did my bachelor’s thesis on unsupervised image segmentation under prof. Matej Kristan of the Visual Cognitive Systems Laboratory at FRI. After improving our approach, we decided to present it at ERK. I was a bit nervous since this was my first oral presentation at a conference, but it went great and the discussion was helpful and interesting. You may find our paper: A regularization-based approach for unsupervised image segmentation Dimitriev Aleksandar, FRI, Uni Lj Kristan Matej, FRI, Uni Lj under the Pattern Recognition section. More details, as well as my other research, can be found at my research page.