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 on October 24th, 2017

Ciphers, teaching, working,..

Hi all!

The quarter is turning out to be really challenging. The course on Security and Cryptography is really difficult for me, it relies a lot on mathematics / probabilistic calculations. Both are not things I like too much, so it takes me a lot of time. Also all the formal definitions make it hard to follow. Luckily this course is recorded on Collegerama, so I’m rewatching most lectures multiple times now to catch up and pass the exam. Next to that I am an assistant for some courses, I work at bunq and because it sounded fun, I started a MOOC on Railway Engineering.

The course

The very last course for me to complete, the assignments were really challenging, they took a lot of time. Where it said that the estimated effort would be around 12h per assignment I nearly had to spend double, not even to get really great grades in return. So I really need to do well on the final exam, which counts for 60% of the final grade. The assignments consist of questions where we are asked to analyse an encrypted text (encrypted using some shifting algorithms for instance). Those can easily be broken using analysis of characteristics of the English language (or another language for that matter). We also had to break the RSA algorithm, from the public key we had to work our way to the private key. Really interesting to do (once)!

Script to decrypt a simple cipher

Image – Quick, hacky and easy script to decrypt a simple cipher

Teaching

Next to this course I assist in two courses; I help out bachelor freshmen in the Object-Oriented Programming course. Last week they had a mock-exam to experience the time pressure and atmosphere of a real exam. Only this time we would still be around to answer questions. The other course is on Software Engineering Methods (2nd year, BSc). Here I only arrange the logistic part of the course, align with all other assistants, collect grades, etc. I will really miss these jobs once I graduate. 🙂

Railway Engineering

I saw an ad for this MOOC and it caught my attention. I really like the infrastructure / public transport systems so I signed up for the course. It’s not really difficult at the moment, but it is an interesting change from Computer Science for a while. Within this MOOC they use a simulator where you can build your own network of trains connecting cities on a virtual map. You will need to take into account to amount of passengers on a line, maintenance, disruptions, etc. 🙂

Thesis preparations

During the free time I have (barely any at the moment) I try to read some papers. My supervisor, Andy Zaidman, provided me with some really useful papers, to help me explore the domain and find a nice topic for my thesis. At this point we are looking into Program Comprehension and Traceability of features to documentation and vice versa. The main idea behind it will be to allow developers to understand a given piece of software faster to waste less time and be more productive. Stay tuned for more!

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