Author Archive

A Perspective on Math Education for Top Students

March 9, 2013 2 comments

How to Enable Dropbox Public Folder

December 6, 2012 3 comments

How to Enable Dropbox Public Folder

By James H. Choi
Source Link

Dropbox’s Public Folder is an incredibly useful feature.  Dropbox was going to eliminate that feature, then wisely brought it back.  For those who cannot find Public folder on your Dropbox folder can follow these instructions to install Public folder.

Step 1: Click this link.  Then you will see the following.  Click “Enable Public Folder” button.

Step 2: Then you will see the following.  Click “Send mail”

Step 3:  You will get an email that shows the following screen.  Click “Verify Your Email.”

Step 4: Now, click “Done” on the following screen.

Step 5: Last step.  If you see the following screen, your public folder was successfully installed.

Categories: Technology Review

Musicology Research with Mathematica 9

November 30, 2012 10 comments

Musicology Research with Mathematica 9

By James H. Choi
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Mathematica 9 has one important new feature that is not even mentioned anywhere in bold fonts.  It belongs to the “other” category of improvements that interests select few.  Well, I am that select few who have been waiting version after version for this feature.

This new feature is ground-breaking-ly for those who are interested in analysis of compositions.  For example, can you algorithmically recognize if a composition is by Bach?  Or more scientifically speaking, can you calculate Bach-liness score for a piece of music?

We know it can be done because, paraphrasing a Supreme Court Justice on an unrelated case: “We know it when we hear it.”

But there is the first obstacle.  How do we enter the musical score into the computer?  One can scan music scores and recognize the notes and rests.  That’s exactly what my student Hyunjoon Song did, and he won the 4th place at ISEF in 2011 with that research.  But, as his mentor, I know what he has done still needs a great deal of improvement before we can start scanning scores of different sizes/fonts/styles.

What is more intriguing is that most of classical music pieces are already in computer readable format called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) file format.  In other words Book↔Text File and Music↔MIDI file.  Every single note’s pitch and duration will be ready to be analyzed by your algorithm if you can import MIDI file.  “If” you can import, that is.

Mathematica has been able to export into MIDI for some time.  That’s how Hyunjoon Song above exported the result of his musical score recognition into MIDI and used a common media player to play it for the judges.

With Mathematica 9, finally you can import MIDI files:

This opens a wide gate for many research topics for those who are passionate about music and science at the same time.

Do you want to teach computers to measure your favorite composer’s greatness?  Now you have all the tools.  All you need is your insight and ability to teach the computer to act on your insight: algorithm programming.  The best tool for it is now clear.  It is Mathematica 9.

Korean version: Mathematica 9으로 하는 음악 연구

Mathematica 9 New Features

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Mathematica 9 New Features

By James H. Choi
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Mathematica 8 logoI just received an email from Wolfram Research with a mention (for the first time) of what is new in Mathematica 9.  I use Mathematica to teach data-driven science research for Intel STS, ISEF and Siemens level competitions.  Here, data-driven means medical image processing, brain wave (EEG) recognition, etc. where my students focus on algorithmically analyzing/processing data while the acquisition itself is left to the doctors, technicians in the field.

Thus, Mathematica’s built in curated data has been very useful to my students and so is its many other ready-made functions/features.  Every time a new version comes out, Mathematica expands our reach that much further, and that much closer to a winning research.

Thus, I am very interested in finding out what this new version of Mathematica has to offer, so that I can adjust my teaching strategy to fully utilize it.  This is my reaction to the announcement.  I will replace “reaction” with “reflection on experience”  as I start using Mathematica 9 for myself and teaching my students with it.

You can find more about it from Wolfram Research site.  The text in blue is the official descriptions and one in black is my comment.

Highly integrated units support, including free-form linguistic entry, conversions, and dimensional consistency checking across graphics and numeric and symbolic calculations

This is great for doing physics and chemistry.  I have seen MathCad having excellent functionality in this area which could be matched by Mathematica with some arm twisting.  It looks like Mathematica finally took over.  When doing hairy calculations in physics, one way to verify the sanity (not the validity) of your computation is by checking the units or dimensions.  Velocity should have some unit of distance in the numerator and some unit of time in the denominator, for instance.  It sounds like Mathematica 9 can do it.  Until now I have computed without units, carrying out the unit computation/coherence in my head.  Come to think of it, that’s how you carry the order of magnitude in your head while you work out the precision of the figure using a slide rule.

Major new data science, probability, and statistics functionality–including survival and reliability analysis, Markov chains, queueing theory, time series, and stochastic differential equations

I do not have any thing to comment on this.

R fully integrated into Mathematica workflow for seamless data and code exchange

“R” is a computer language, a functional language that is known for its strength in statistical analysis.  Many Innocentive specifies the project to be done in “R,” and nothing else.  I have been deterred from some highly attemptable projects solely by this “R” language requirement.

It is not that learning “R” is difficult or expensive.  “R” is free, and open source.  But I could do other projects that accept Mathematica with the time/effort that it would take an old dog to learn a new trick.  The waiting strategy — better known as procrastination — paid off.  I look forward to having nimble Mathematica speak “R” in behalf of an old dog. analog and digital signal processing

Analog signal processing to me is wiring circuits.  I am puzzled how you can do analog signal processing in a digital computer.  Maybe they mean they can handle continuous functions?  Laplace transform place of Z transform?I will update this page soon as I find out.  Follow this blog if you are interested.

3D volumetric image processing and out-of-core technology that scales up performance to very large 2D and 3D images and video

This is welcome news.  Volumetric processing is particularly useful in medical image processing.  There were many algorithms that were slowing down Mathematica to the point that interactivity required patience.  I especially look forward acceleration in the 3D surface rendering.

New graph and network analysis, including a built-in link for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more

The picture below depicts the connections among Facebook members.  My students could graph this only if they had the data.  The announcement sounds like we will indeed be able to access that data.  My students will be able to explore this human connectivity, or the “degrees of separation” in more depth, and win science competition prizes, then go on to MIT.

SabioAcademy teaches science research to bright high school students.  We teach students to use real data from research clinics and perform research with a goal of 1. winning at STS/ISEF/Siemens and 2. publishing in a scientific journal.  We have produced several ISEF winners and publications.

Categories: Mathematica

Science Competitions: Team or Individual?

November 27, 2012 1 comment

Science Competitions: Team or Individual?

By James H. Choi
Source Link


Many science competitions, such as ISEF and Siemens, let you enter as a team or an individual.   In case of Siemens competition, you must enter as a team unless you are a senior.  Neither competition restricts who your teammates can be; they could be from different schools and different ages.

So how should you enter?  Below are the pros and cons of entering as teams or individuals.  After reading these, you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Team Pros:

  1. You get to hang out with your friends.  This is an obvious benefit, but the trick here is that no matter how much you enjoy working together and feel like you work well together, the competition isn’t how much you enjoyed.  It’s decided based on your research results.
  2. The sum of your combined skills might be greater than your individual ones.
  3. Teamwork is superior when each of your strengths are complementary.  If two people know exactly the same thing, there’s no reason to join the force.  One exception is if the research is so great that you need more hands on a team to simply finish the menial work, but this is unlikely in a science competition.  You could also hire someone to do the menial work such as cleaning up, or moving equipment, especially if there would be no point to add this person to your team officially.
  4. A selfish reason: If you don’t know anything about anything, you could fetch a free ride to glory on the backs of teammates who know a lot.  If a team leader offers you an opportunity like this, by all means get on the bus. Cons:

  1. But if you aren’t careful, free riders might get on your bus.  You end up doing all the work while others sit around chatting or don’t even show up.  You won’t have many options in mid course; it is important start with the right team.
  2. Science competition judges expect teams’ work to be higher quality.  It is not our instinct, it is how we are instructed to look at team projects.  When I judge at ISEF, often I see that team work that could have been done by just one person.  When only one member of the team answers all my questions while free-rider-looking members standby smiling, then my suspicion deepens.  The “teamwork” category counts as 20 percent of the score.  These free riders just cost you at least this 20%.  Teamwork being no superior to individual work will also cost you unspecified points at the whim of the judges.
  3. The more people you have, the less likely you’ll find a common time and place you can all meet and work together.  The sheer logistic nightmare could drag the project down.

I recommend first-time competitors start on their own to build these skills. Running into your limitation is a good way to know what they are, and to determine whether you should make up for it, or outsource it.  Great teams come only from great, self-sufficient, experienced students working together.  Team up with someone only if you see a clear gain only for yourself, and know the person either through some vetting process such as car wash, or through a long friendship.  Don’t worry about the others because they wouldn’t join you unless they also see clear gains for themselves.

Categories: Science Competition
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