Sander van den Oever

Sander van den Oever
Computer Science student

Track: Software Technology
Interests: Software (Web) Engineering
Occupation: PHP Developer

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Posted in July 2016

Summer Break

Well, that’s been quite a quarter. Apologies for the late blog, I’ve been very very busy with my courses and my TA jobs. The courses were awesome and supervising all my teams was also  very pleasant experience. I had to sacrifice a lot of my spare time, but in the end everything is finished. That means that it is finally time for the Summer Break. 😀

Multimedia Search and Recommendation

Within Multimedia Search and Recommendation (MMSR) we learned the basics of Search and Recommendation techniques. This course was brand new but the teachers did an awesome job nonetheless. The course consisted of three weeks of common lectures where we would all gather the same foundation of knowledge. After that we had to pick one of the two offered specialisations. We could pick one from MMSR Analytics and MMSR Systems where Analytics is more about the theory and Systems more about the practical aspects. So that’s how we learned about compression techniques, fingerprinting of media, recommendation models, video streaming, etc. Next to the lectures there was a big project. I’ve worked on the celebrity contest by Microsoft. Together with my teammate, Shirley, I have build a Python application that firstly detects your face from a video stream (webcam) and secondly recognise that face. We had received a huge dataset of celebrities that we should be able to recognise. Because of the time limitations within the MMSR course we had to narrow this down to a subset of approximately 100-200 celebs. We trained some recognition models with this set. In the end we had an system where fellow students, teachers, friends, etc. could sit in front of the webcam and see which celeb was most similar to them (according to our system that is). Really fun experience which was awarded with a nice grade (9.5 / 10).

Sidenote; one of the teachers of MMSR (Cynthia Liem) was awarded the ‘Teacher of the Year 2016’ award for Computer Science (see also this post on Facebook).

Language Engineering Lab

The other course I took this quarter was the Language Engineering Lab. Within this course we had to define a chosen language within the Spoofax workbench in teams of two students. I’ve worked on the ‘RaSDF’ project. The aim of this project was to allow for transformation of Rascal (competitor of Spoofax) grammars into SDF3 grammars (the syntax formalism that is used by Spoofax). This was really tricky but also provided us with a lot of experience in the field of Language Engineering. Spoofax is also the tool that has been used in the Compiler Construction (CC) course for Q1. Next year CC will be given by Eelco Visser (also the teacher of this lab) so things might change a bit, but I’m fairly certain that Spoofax won’t leave the course. If you plan on following this course I strongly recommend to follow CC as it will help you to understand Spoofax properly before this project. Myself I had some struggles with some of the components that I had not studied enough yet during CC.

Presenting the RaSDF project together with Rob van Bekkum (photo by Eelco Visser)

Figure: Presenting the RaSDF project together with Rob van Bekkum (photo by Eelco Visser). PS: We do not present with our hands in our pockets, haha.

Contextproject

The project I’ve been supervising was the second-year bachelor course called Contextproject. This project tried to emulate real-world projects as much as possible, including the different stakeholders. As mentioned in my previous blog I was a teaching assistant (TA) for both the Computer Games and Virtual Humans contexts. Within Computer Games the teams had to build a game that supports the Oculus Rift (every team borrowed a Rift for the entire quarter actually!). Because there was a Java requirement they had to use jMonkeyEngine (remember the name?) for the development. Unfortunately the documentation of that engine went down in the first or second week of the project until the very last week of the project. Although Rift support for jMonkeyEngine is not as trivial as we had hoped initially, we were really pleased with the games that resulted from the project. One of them was a virtual ‘Escape the Maze’ game. This game even won the ‘Best project of Contextproject 2016’ award.

The other context was a bit chaotic, teams struggled with getting started and they had troubles with the existing codebase. Another challenge that the students had to face was that all teams in this context had a shared component which they all had to work on. Although it’s not the most exciting part of the TA job, it is very useful. You learn how to push your groups to work, you learn to detect potential problems, etc. Useful experiences whenever you are to work in (or guide) a group project in future.

Viva la France! 😀

Friday, 1st of July were the final presentation of the Language Engineering Lab. After we presented the ‘RaSDF’ project I went home, packed my suitcase and left for a nice holiday in France. I could really use that free time at last! 🙂

France - Noyer

Figure: France – Noyer

Enjoy the summer break, I might post some stuff during the break, but no promises. 😉

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