Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Graduate School Accepts and Visits

UPDATE: Accepted by Maryland today. Haven't decided whether to go on the visit (weekend after spring break ends)

In the past few weeks, I have heard back from all but two graduate schools: I'm accepted at University of Washington, University of Texas-Austin, University of Colorado-Boulder, and UCLA. I have yet to hear back from University of Maryland and Cambridge (to which I applied for the 1 year master's program in conjunction with the Churchill and/or other fellowships).

This is a huge relief; no longer do I need to worry about what my choices are, just which to choose. To that end, I will be visiting the first three schools mentioned above in the next month.

UT-Austin: February 26-28
Boulder: March 4-7
UW: March 13-21*

*Okay, that last date may look a bit strange. In truth, I will be spending all of spring break in Seattle with Steph, and the visit days happen to fall over Purdue's spring break. We'll be taking out the Amtrak to Seattle, so we'll actually only be in town from Monday-Saturday.

Unfortunately, UCLA's visit day falls on the same time at Boulder's, and Boulder has a 3 day visit (vs. 1 day at UCLA). I still haven't heard back from Maryland for whatever reason (still snowed in?) so I can't really commit either way to visiting their school. And Cambridge.. I don't think they even have a visit day.

During/after each trip, I will write up a trip summary and present some information about the graduate schools I visit. Bon voyage!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Project website, and MobileMe testing

Today I decided to try out MobileMe, Apple's in-the-cloud syncing and webspace hosting service. I get two months for free, and will probably subscribe at the end of that time. This is mostly out of convenience: perhaps days after my graduation from Purdue, my CS account (and my email accounts at Purdue) will be zapped. I figure it is better to start transferring now to a university-neutral host for my website and non-school-related emails.

As part of this, I moved my iWeb-backed research webpage over to www.brrian.net. Over the next month i'll slowly start moving files off of the CS account's public folder to my public iDisk (aka cloud-based storage).

I've also finally gotten around to making a website for my CS 565 project, now located at www.brrian.net/js/. I will be keeping all news related to that project on a mini-blog specific to the project. I don't anticipate making more than a dozen entries over the semester, so it is not worth the work to set up a new Blogger blog, or to write such blog posts on this blog and try to link them each individually.

Finally, you can access this blog via the shortcut blog.brrian.net. I plan to use this brrian alias more often, since I do not know what my username will be at my graduate school.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm published!

Last week, I found out that my paper was accepted at PLDI 2010. This was a joint work with several others at Purdue last semester, including Jan Vitek, Gregor Richards, and Sylvain Lebresne (who has since returned to France and found employment). The paper itself was submitted almost 3 months ago, in mid-November. We received our first round of reviews in the second week of this semester, and now things are wrapped up. The conference itself is June 5-10 in Toronto, which is dangerously close to the beginning of internships; hopefully I'll find a way to fly out there for a week.

PLDI was extremely rough terrain this year: out of 200 papers submitted, only 40 were accepted. Though 40 is a relatively high number of papers, this still results in a measly 5% acceptance rate for the conference. Two papers from Purdue were accepted. This is significantly above the overall 5% accept rate, but still many did not make the cut. That said, I'm really excited about some of the papers that have been accepted this year. I'm especially excited to see some of the new papers on verified compilers (Jean Yang, Zach Tatlock) and the profiler analysis work from Amer Diwan's group.

This is a major milestone for me: my first publication! I'm relieved that I actually finished a project, after a year of having no focus and research direction in Japan. Besides the ins and outs of research, I learned a lot about writing papers, moving fast, and gleaned at least some insight on the tricky problem of finding (and answering) the interesting questions of research. Unfortunately, most of the fellowship foundations and graduate schools have already looked and decided on my applications, so they will not be able to see my updated CV. At least I can update my website after applying... :)

Just as a preview, our paper "An analysis of the dynamic behavior of JavaScript programs" is somewhat of a meta-analysis. Over the past few years, many people have published papers about JavaScript. These generally are add-on type systems or static/dynamic analyses that try to make JavaScript a safer (or at least more predictable) language. JavaScript shares a number of similarities with object-oriented and C-family languages, but it also has a number of crucial differences. These include prototype-based inheritance (like Self), closures, and objects with flexible sets of fields. Many of the published analyses for JavaScript assume its behavior is similar to other languages with class-based inheritance; similarly, other papers assumed that language features such as `eval` and field deletion were rarely used. By tracing the execution of real-world JavaScript applications (Gmail, Facebook, etc), we show that these assumptions are often violated. We also produce some data that may be useful for JavaScript implementors.

Over the next few weeks we have some minor editing to do, and i'll be busy with some other project. Not to mention interviews for internships, grad school visits, and classes!