Breaking the silence

Well, I’ve been quite quiet lately. I just updated to WP 2.5.1. Hooray?

Anyway, the silence has been largely due to exams which I finished last Thursday. Naturally I needed some time to relax and just not do anything for a while so I haven’t really said anything here, either. The other part of the reason for my inactivity is I just really haven’t had any good ideas for stuff to write about. I’m not a big fan of making these short, boring posts.

I suppose I could talk a bit about what I’m going to be doing this summer. Unlike last summer–where I was a bum who was bored stiff–I actually have a job. I start a week from today (on the 19th) doing research at the university. This is actually a good chance for me to get a feel for what graduate school would be like and if that’s really the path I want to go down (right now it seems a lot better than having a career or real life). In particular I’ll be programming a finite element method implementation in C++. What it will do is solve for the temperature variation and velocity field in a solid material which has microvascular channels cut in it. Obviously the velocity field in the solid part of the material will be 0 (that’s right, the 0 vector), but there’s a fluid flow in the channels. The primary focus of the research would be to examine the cooling properties as a function of the shape of the network of channels and their diameters–which can vary discretely. I’ll be working with a professor which I had for AE321 and AE322 (Aerospace structures; it’s basically studying the deformation of bodies subject to loads but in static equilibrium).

I’m actually really excited about this. This will be the first thing I’ve done in the aerospace field and the first thing I’ve done that makes me feel like I’ve actually made some sort of contribution of substance. Also, they’re giving me money.

But, in the mean time I’ve just been screwing around trying to find something to fill my time. At the moment I’m staying at my mother’s house looking after her cats while she’s away. It’s much harder to find stuff to do while I’m up here although I did install Python in this computer and write a pretty nifty Polynomial class in it. It has all the basic arithmetic operators overloaded (including division, modulus, and exponentiation). It’s also capable of computing the derivative of a polynomial (trivial), finding all of its roots (not trivial), as well as factoring itself. It actually just uses the root finding function for this which does some rudimentary guessing to leave the factors with integer coefficients if possible. This is tricky in large part because floating-point rounding errors rear their ugly head all over the place when computing the roots. However, I can guarantee that it never returns a root which fails to make the polynomial very close to 0. It handles complex roots just fine and, presumably, complex coefficients as well (I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t work).

Anyway, that’s a less than brief overview of how I’ve been wasting my time recently. I think my next stop will be to fiddle around with pyglet and try my hand at making a dice wars clone.

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