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1. your name: Dan Knights

2. the intended topic area for your PhD: Machine Learning

3. most important reason for you personally to get a PhD: I like working on hard problems.

4. name three computer scientists which YOU consider most important for the field and what you consider their contribution
4.1. Alan Turing (more or less the father of computing–defined Turing machines before computers even existed!).
4.2. George Dantzig (founder of linear programming)
4.3. Stephen Wolfram (Studied the enormous complexity inherent in relatively simple iterative growth processes–see, "A New Kind of Science" by same).

5. name the three most important, professionally relevant books which you have read
5.1. "A New Kind of Science," by Stephen Wolfram
5.2. "On Intelligence," by Jeff Hawkins
5.3. "C++ Primer Plus," by Stephen Prata

6. assuming you will collaborate with researchers and explore ideas outside of CS during your PhD studies ? which domains are the most likely

candidates for this effort
6.1. Cognitive Science
6.2. Linguistics
6.3. Neuroscience

7. briefly characterize your own digital literacy:

7.1. which programming languages do you know (mention them in an order of decreasing familiarity)


7.2. describe the top three projects (problem, programming language used, for what) which you have done in the past

  1. Distributed Intelligent Planning and Scheduling (DIPS) for Enhanced Spacecraft Autonomy.
1999, June - September: Charles River Analytics, Cambridge, MA

Problem: To design a system for Distributed Intelligent Planning and Scheduling (DIPS) that helps a spacecraft function as an autonomous agent. A DIPS-based spacecraft receives only high-level goals from ground station operators, and performs its own planning and scheduling onboard, achieving these goals with onboard subsystems and in cooperation with other spacecraft. The scenario for the scheduling algorithm required actual time commitments from a spacecraft in case it temporarily lost communication. The real challenge was to allow cooperative rescheduling between certain agents, while guaranteeing that no changes would cause a disconnected spacecraft to violate a global time constraint.

Languages used:
    • Java (for the user interface)
    • Prolog (for the symbolic-logic back-end scheduler)
    • C (to communicate between the Java front-end and the Prolog back-end)
    • KQML (for message passing between agents)

  1. Localization and Identification of Visual Landmarks. 2000, June - September: Middlebury College Robotics and Vision Research Lab, Middlebury, VT

Problem: This project focused on designing and evaluating methods for reading barcodes on visual landmarks. Our goal was to improve a preliminary version of the barcode reader developed the previous summer in the Middlebury Robotics and Vision Lab.

Languages used:
    • C (for image analysis and video stream input management)

  1. Generating a solution to the 15 Puzzle from a video stream input. 2001, Research Project. Class: Computer Vision, with Professor Daniel Scharstein. Collaborators: Dan Knights, Laura Matefy, Victor Dan.

The Problem: The goal of this project is to take an image of an unsolved "15 Puzzle" that lies on a plain sheet of paper and to output a real-time video stream showing the next step in the solution.

Languages used:
    • C (for image analysis and video stream input management)

7.3. which are the top three applications that you are familiar with (e.g. Photoshop, Canvas, Dreamweaver, iMovie, ?.)?

MS Office
Irfanview (for image processing)
JCreator (Java IDE)

8. List your three favorite topics that you would like to see discussed in this course!
8.1. What current research is being done in the department?
8.2. What bureaucratic steps do we need to take, and when (e.g., setting up a comprehensive exam, applying for in-state residency classification)
8.3. What is involved in becoming a professor after graduation (e.g., post-doc work? How competitive will it be in 5-7 years? What's the process of applying for positions?)

Last modified 4 September 2007 at 9:11 am by haleden