Posts filed under 'Studies'


One week has now passed since I left Seattle and the United States of America. Almost ten months has passed since I first got there. While I wouldn't be surprised to find my self back there one day, I feel that this is a good time to summarize my experiences from the large country 'over there'.

I'll start with a one sentence summary of the greater Seattle area; Like Sweden, but bigger.

To elaborate, pretty much everything is bigger over there. The trees are bigger, the mountains are bigger, the cars are bigger, the stadiums are bigger and more numerous, the streets are wider, and the food portions are more generous. While we also have trees, mountains, cars, stadiums, streets and everything else they have over there, theirs are simply bigger. Whether that is positive or negative depends on the question at hand, and I guess I can't give a much better generic answer than "it depends".

The second most obvious thing I've noticed about Seattle is that people are more relaxed, hospitable, and easy-going. They are simply just very nice. Nicer than Swedes, I would say, at least on a shallow level. But when you think about how many people you talk to on any given day, you realize that you actually have a lot of rather shallow conversations. Americans are just so much better than Swedes at having those casual and spontaneous conversations. In fact, if there is one thing I would like to bring back home to Sweden, it would be this very skill.

One of the absolutely best things I did in Seattle, possibly even the best, was to start playing Ultimate. I've met a whole bunch of cool Americans, I've learned a great sport, and I've had so much fun! Not to mention that it has helped me stay in shape, and not gain any weight. I can wholeheartedly recommend both Ultimate as a sport, as well as playing some kind of team sport while studying abroad. It's a great chance to meet new people.

Also, I'm happy I took the chance to travel as much as I did. I've visited Hawaii, Las Vegas, Florida, Olympic Peninsula and California. During some trips, I either visited someone I knew, or had a visitor, which made them extra fun. Although I've spent thousands of dollars on these trips, I don't regret traveling for a second. The places I've visited are places I would have wanted to visit sometime in my life anyway, and why not do it when you've already paid for the trip over the Atlantic anyway? However, as a word of advice, don't forget to bring a towel! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, finally, for any and all of you out there – if you have the chance to study abroad, do it! For some reason, most people who have studies abroad tend to say that it was one of the best times of their lives, and that don't regret it. Although it might sound as a clichรฉ, I can't help but chime in. Do it! You will have a great time, and you won't regret it.

Over and out,

1 comment July 11th, 2006

Thank God It’s Friday

Thank God It's Friday, or TGIF as it is usually abbreviated, is the name of an event which takes place in (or near) the computer science building every friday afternoon. It is a way to round off the work week and relax before the weekend. Usually it means that students, faculty and staff join forces in the atrium of the building and have some free or very cheap beer and snacks. Usually every TGIF is arranged by a grad student office (about five students) and has a specific theme, such as The Incredible Edible Egg TGIF, Football-ish TGIF, Cultures Collide TGIF or something else which does not make too much sense.

This time, the TGIF was a bit bigger, and took place at a lawn behind the CSE building. There were free burgers, hot dogs, soda and beer, as well as a number of ways to entertain oneself. Most notably a huge inflatable erm, thing, in lack of a better word, where two combatants joined by a rope were trying to put small basket balls in baskets as far from each other as possible. Another inflatable large thing allowed two people (with helms) to nock each other off small platforms with huge (but rather soft) clubs. The third and perhaps most popular thing was the hit-the-bullseye-with-a-ball-and-make-the-person-sitting-over-the-pool-fall-down-into-it thing. The people sitting there, waiting to be thrown into the water, were teaching assistants, staff and faculty. Even the chair of the department got his time. To the amusement of the crowd, the first person who managed to make the old chair (who also happens to be teaching one of the classes I'm currently taking) fall down into the water, was his about 5 year old daughter. ๐Ÿ™‚

I also brought my faithful frisbee to the party, and it got used pretty heavily. Unfortunately, it was ran over by a car earlier on the day, so it was slightly cracked. But it worked pretty well anyway. A couple of us ended up staying for a few hours playing Ultimate in the slightly wet grass. It was very informal, very fun, and my pants are now very, very dirty. ๐Ÿ™‚

2 comments May 20th, 2006

Back to normal

Today, Gรถran flew home after a visiting me here in Seattle for ten days. After having first Karin and then Gรถran staying here in my room, I've started to get used to having someone around. But now things are back to normal, I guess. While "back to normal" include some nice things such as less space occupied by beds, suitcases and other things, it is probably mostly a downgrade. I'll have to start doing some serious school work again, I probably won't do as many trips to different places as I've done lately, and I'll most likely have less fun in general. :-/

As a sidenote, I have found a potential Master's Thesis ("ex-jobb") at MindValue, a Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship startup. We've got a meeting set up for when I come back to Gothenburg to discuss the work. Until then I don't know more than the linked-to document tells me, and they don't know more about me than my letter and CV told them. So in about two months we'll see if it is a match.

May 10th, 2006


I'm just [back from Florida](Florida in bullets), but nevertheless I'm planning my next trip. I've just booked a flight to Los Angeles in June when school is finished. There I will meet up with Andreas from Sweden for a two week roadtrip, before going back to Sweden.

Which leads me to the next thing; I am going back to Sweden. No [Google internship](Second Google interview) for me. While it is a little bit sad, it actually feels good to go back home as well. While I wouldn't have turned down an internship opportunity, I wasn't really convinced that I wanted to stay in the US right now. So going back to Sweden, meeting everybody again, and finishing my Masters degree feels like the right thing to do.

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3 comments March 26th, 2006

Spring break

I just realized this post was never published before the trip. I apologize.

A rough idea about our planned trip. Map copyright by Google.The week we've just put behind us has been the final week of the Winter quarter. And before Spring quarter takes over, it's time for a well deserved Spring break! In my case, I and Markus will fly down to Fort Lauderdale in Florida, rent a car, and go for a five day road trip in southern Florida! Our route will probably cover cities such as Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral. We haven't booked any kind of accomodation, so we hope that it'll be fairly easy to find motels along the way. All in all, I hope the trip will be fun, and fill my mind with something which has nothing to do with school whatsoever!

Actually the trip is not only a celebration of that I've put one more quarter behind me, but can also be seen as a birthday present to myself. It so happens that I turn 24 during the first day of the trip (i.e. tomorrow, Monday). So, happy birthday to myself in advance. ๐Ÿ™‚

After the [bad experiences](North Shore) on Hawaii, I've decided to bring as little of value as possible, especially leaving the computer behind. While it is possible that we'll find an Internet cafe somewhere, I don't know for sure if or when. So therefore, this blog will most likely be silent for about a week now. Have fun! I surely will! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Add comment March 19th, 2006


I think I would become a good professor.

I had scheduled a meeting with a professor today, to talk about my grade in a class from last quarter. I went to his office at the time we had decided to find his office empty. I spent a few minutes outside his office looking at the beautiful view of Lake Washington with the mountains in the background.

After about five minutes he showed up, accompanied by two other people. He saw me but didn't seem to recognize me. He took another look at me. I started to feel that he perhaps recognized me, at least a little bit. Still no reaction though. He started to let the two people following him into his office. A third look. Since I was standing right outside his office I guess he felt the pressure to say something to me, and so he did.

"Did we schedule a meeting?" he said.

"Yes", I responded politely.

"Oh, I've must have double-booked then", he commented calmly. He didn't say anything for a few seconds.

"I'm free most of the day, so I can come in later", I offered.

He seemed relieved (probably not of the embarrassment, but from not having to deal with finding a new time). "In an hour?" he asked. I accepted, and he turned his focus back to the guests in his office. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had already forgotten about me.

So, given that bad memory is a character trait of professors, I think I would become a good one.

1 comment February 6th, 2006


The goal of my research is to be able to extract information from tables and lists on web pages. For example, from the table below, it is possible to understand that there is someone called Albert Einstein who was born in 1879, died in 1955, and whose major work was a certain special theory of relativity.

First name Last name Born in Died in Most famous work
Albert Einstein 1879 1955 Special theory of relativity
Isaac Newton 1643 1727 Three laws of motion

What we want is for a computer to be able to figure these relations out. That is not as easy as it sounds.

To complicate things further, a major problem is the large number of tables which do not contain any real information. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of tables on the internet today are used for formatting purposes, i.e. to position various elements of a web page properly on the screen, rather than displaying tabular data.

So the first thing I have to do is to write a program which can classify tables as being used for layout, or for containing data. Once I have that, I can start with the process of actually extracting information from the interesting tables. On the positive side, at least I get some use for the classification techniques I learned in the Artifical Intelligence course. ๐Ÿ™‚

Add comment February 2nd, 2006

No job, but research

Unfortunately, I wasn't invited to a second round of interviews to either [Microsoft](The first interview) or Amazon. Although that is unfortunate, I don't feel too sorry about it. There will be a new recruiting wave and a new set of interviews in the spring, so I'll make another attempt then.

On the other hand, I did get accepted to do research on the KnowItAll project. More precisely I'm going to work on a program called TextRunner, which is a search engine which does not return documents containing certain terms, but answers questions. It can for example answer questions such as which the highest mountain in Sweden is, or return a list of American scientists. At the moment, this search engine extracts information from paragraph text on web pages, and my work is to make it also extract information from lists and tables on web pages.

I am actually very excited about this for several reasons. First, because I think TextRunner is the most interesting project of the several projects I've referred to as KnowItAll so far. But also because I believe lists and tables on web pages can contribute with very high-quality information to the system, so my work might end up being a very important part of the project.

Yesterday, I attended my first weekly meeting with the group of researchers working on KnowItAll and related projects. It was actually surprisingly similar to a typical student group meeting at Chalmers. Today, I talked to one of the main developers about the work I'm supposed to do, and he also explained to me how the system works, how I can get access to the research cluster, and other things that I need in order to work on the project.

Pardon me for making a technical digression here, but speaking of the research cluster, it is actually pretty cool. TextRunner is running on a cluster of 20 dual-Xeon machines, each with a single local disk of 250GB, resulting in a total of 5 TB(!) of storage space used to store a set of more than 90 million web pages. After being processed by TextRunner, this results in a graph structure with more 227 million nodes representing nouns such as "Albert Einstein", "car", "orange", and a mind-boggling 1.9 billion edges representing relations between them such as "is a", "worked for", "died in". I guess it's kind of nerdy, but I think it is really cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

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2 comments November 22nd, 2005


I'm currently thinking about trying to get into some kind of research here at the university for the winter and/or spring quarter. My thought is that the credits I get for it would replace one of my traditional courses. It would also be a fun experience, to actually do some real academic research.

I've been talking to (my third interview ([1](The first interview), [2]( Interview)) in eight days) one of the people involved with a research project called KnowItAll. It is a system which tries to automatically extract huge amounts of information (facts) from the Internet. For example, it could figure out which countries exist in the world, what their capital cities are and their populations, without any human telling it anything about what a country, city and population is, or the relations between them. To use their own words, it's a "a domain-independent system that extracts massive amounts of information from the Web in an autonomous, scalable manner". I'm not sure yet whether or not they want me involved, but I'll hopefully find out in the next few days.

As a side note: At 6 pm tonight I'm off to my second Ultimate Frisbee tournament. This time the place a bit further away, the city Eugene in southern Oregon, the state south of Washington. I'll be back after the weekend with a report.

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1 comment November 18th, 2005

Am I stupid?

After attending two classes of the AI course named CSE 473 which is meant for undergraduate seniors (corresponding to third year at Chalmers) I actually felt that it was too simple. After two lectures I still hadn't heard anything very exciting and it was pretty obvious that I wouldn't learn very much new stuff in that course. Therefore I decided to switch to CSE 573 which covers the same topic but is meant for graduate students (fourth year at Chalmers) and which has a higher speed; the first lecture covered material that the undergrad course will cover in its third and fourth lecture. And after all, I am a graduate student, so I guess that it's not very strange that a graduate course suits me best. I think I was just worried that the graduate course would be too hard when I chose the undergrad course.

So, perhaps I'm just stupid since I'm actually giving myself more homework and more to do, but I also think that this course will be more challenging. I've been sitting this whole day (since I woke up at 1 pm) reading in the text book and doing an assignment. I'm supposed to formally describe a small world for a robot whose goal is to gather all the things you need to make coffee and then deliver a mug of freshly made coffee to the professor.

Although I've been studying the whole day, I really like this day. It is the first day I feel I have actually been "at home" doing something useful, and not only using the room as a place to store my personal belongings or for sleeping. What makes the day even better is that I've awarded myself for being hard-working by eating chocolate chip cookies. ๐Ÿ˜€

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2 comments October 2nd, 2005

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