Life @ CMU

Life @ CMU

Jul 1, 2021. | By: Sophie

Since I came to the Open House in March 2017, I found that CMU is a nerdy but cool space. I’m writing down things I find interesting here. Hope this blog can tell you more about CMU.

Jun 19, 2021

Sep 12, 2019.

@Baker Hall

Sep 11, 2019.

Thanks Marat! I told Marat that I’m lactose intolerant and most of the time I couldn’t enjoy the free lunch provided at our weekly societal computing seminar. So he ordered special lunch for me!

Sep 10, 2019.

A masterpiece by Bogdan - he built it when we were having a project meeting with Laura and Jim (just to give you some idea of what we do during our meetings, definitely not talking about science).

Sep 3, 2019.

Nice backpack!

Aug 26, 2019.

First day back to school! What a surprise! It used to be: computer science as a field has a reputation for being a boys’ club. Not at Carnegie Mellon (see here). Now it is removed entirely.

May 31, 2019.

After ICSE, I was discussing with people about the paper Do Developers Learn New Tools On The Toilet? on how effective is Google’s unofficial practice of putting up posters about tools in the toilet. I accidentially referred to it as the toilet paper. Apparently I didn’t plan the pun. Then I heard that during the ICSE, there were people putting up surveys in male toilets. Apparently we female participants missed such thing. They should learn from Google - I heard that now the posters are being put up by cleaners so that both male and female bathrooms will get the same amount of coverage.

Apr 4, 2019.

My advisor told me that CSCW and ICSE people love to see long discussion sections. He opened his arms to indicate the length. I took it literally and thought how could they expect us to write a paper that is more than 6 feet long?!

Mar 19, 2019.

Many people are sick these days. At least 3 students were coughing and sneezing out of 20 students in my class. A friend of mine and I were thinking maybe people from different departments may get sick in different ways.

We people in the Software Institute get sick caused by bugs in the software.

People at Computer Science Department might systematically infected by some theoretical sickness.

Robotic Institute people might infect their robots, so watch out for mad robots these days!

Human Computer Interaction people must have some interactive disease that can only be activated by some machine behaviours.

CompBio people are always in danger because it sounds like they might be dealing with virus DNA.

Linguistic Technology people may begin to speak gibberish or have lots of grammar mistakes.

The most interesting sickness probably belongs to the people from the Machine Learning Department. They have the capacity to backpropagate their sickness so that every new patient would be able to improve the symptom of the old patients to achieve a glocal maximum of infection.

Mar 12, 2019.

A friend of mine is looking for a job at some university. She asked me about some of my former schools. I asked her, why not come to CMU so that we could be roommates.

She said, No, I feel like even security guards need to know Java to be able to work at CMU.

I said, that’s not True, Python is also acceptable.

Feb 9, 2019.

A couple days ago, someone came to give a job talk about how people train AI to perform a task. He showed some stats on how some people managed to teach the AI quickly by using some consistent languages while the others took a while. Someone raised a question about the demography of the players. He suggested that Stanford undergrads may be different than the other people. He then went on to suggest that it might be interesting to compare Stanford undergrads and CMU undergrads.

Then someone else said, “I bet Stanford undergrads can do it. It’s not very difficult. The problem is whether MIT undergrads can do it.”

May 25, 2018.

Are we suppose to high five whenever we go pass by this sign, like you have to kiss if you stand under a mistletoe??

Each time I see this sign, I always think of the song Super Star by a Taiwanese girls group S.H.E. This is one of the earliest pop songs I heard in my life. Click here to watch the official MV.

May 5, 2018.

I often wander around in GHC when I’m tired of working and I find many interesting things on people’s office doors. For example, the image on the left reminds me of a class at Princeton. We were reading papers on distributed system, and one graph, reproduced on the right, compares existing systems and the one introduced in the paper. Our professor said, “guys, always start your y-axis from 0. I first thought FIFO sucks, but it actually has 25% hit rate.”

May 1, 2018.

CMU students often do some weird things. For example, someone wrote down the Chinese poem A Moonlit Night on the Spring River on Pausch Bridge (image on the left). Or, someone moved their monitors out to work in the corridor. Inspired by this, now I often bring my mechanical keyboard to work in Gates where sunlight is abundant.

Apr 20, 2018.

CMU’s spring carnival should be very nerdy and CS. Therefore, we have a mobot competition. I’ve been wondering why there are these ugly lines in front of Wean Hall. Now I know the answer! They are routes for robots to follow!

The task of mobot includes following the white line and going through 13 or 14 arches. Along the way, there are slopes. Some parts of the white lines are painted against light grey ground. Towards the end of the journey, the robot needs to know that it should stick to the path on the right (as shown in the image) because that’s where the arches are placed. Once your robot has pased 3 arches, you are qualified for cash rewards.

One of the teams if formed by a CMU alumni and his son, who had participated in previous year’s mobot already. They made it to the final part but the robot took the wrong route and lost the track.

There are also some college students participating. The robot in the last image is one of the smallest robots I’ve seen so far. I don’t quite understand why he built the robot so small. The obvious drawback is that once it detrails from the track, even just for a tiny bit, it can never find it back, which is what happened to the robot at the competition.

Apr 20, 2018.

Spring carnival!

Apart from those amusement park monsters, there are some benign activities. For example, each student organization built their own exhibition pavalion. Many of them have two floors! There’s one has Harry Potter theme.

Another fun thing to do is to dunk a dean. Each dean from a college sits above a small pool for half an hour waiting for people to dunk them into the water. Some deans wear swimming suits, some wear normal suits, even with ties! However, our own dean, Andrew Moore, being so CS, wore a white t-shirt, a blue shorts, and a pair of orange socks!!! I donated $2 and got 4 balls, two of which hit the red button and sent him down into the water.

Apr 19, 2018.

It will be CMU’s spring carnival tomorrow. Apparantly, CMU somehow magically moved an amusement park to the campus. I usually go into Gates building right after I arrive at campus so I don’t usually see what’s going on on campus greens. Now that I suddenly see these large monsters poped up from nowhere, I have a feeling of distance, as though the neon lights were coming from far, far away. Neon lights often give me a sense of noisiness but this time they seem to be so serene.

Apr 19, 2018.

I’ve had the honour of staying in my department overnight. Nights at CMU are never quiet. You might think it is because of Ph.D. students. No. Ph.D. students usually croach in their own offices; you rarely see them move. It is our cleaning staffs that make the nights colourful! They start cleaning up the building at midnight. When they work, they put a radio in the NSH Perlis Atrium and plays music. I’m not an expert on music genre, so I only know they are not pop music nor classics. Maybe some blues or jazz type of music.

Apr 18, 2018.

Do you know how much coffee we consume each day?! I saw the front desk person filled up the coffee bean tank at around 8am. This photo was taken at 3~4pm. See how much coffee beans had gone!

Apr 10, 2018.

Although I think CMU and I share the same sense of humour, I totally don’t get CMU’s sense of aesthetic. For example, what have they done to the stairs in Wean Hall?!!!?!?! I thought we had a design school?

Well, David had the completely oppsite opinion. He thought this looks like in fairytale. But I don’t see any romance or elegance in it.

This webpage introduces the art piece. This graph helped me understand the rational behind the design:

Don’t you think this looks like gradient fields?

Mar 29, 2018.

Congratulations to Jeremy and Squares Lab whose paper ``COBOLd: Gobblin’ up COBOL bugs for fun and profit’’ has won the Test of Time Positive Record Award (whatever it means) in 12th SIGBOVIK conference at CMU! There work demostrates that by randomly replacing or adding or deleting code from COBOL can make you super rich! By super rich I meant being able to buy a huge island. By a huge island I mean some country in the south hemisphere. Jeremy also gave a wonderful demo at the conference (pic 2). The paper can be found here (page 138-143).

Mar 25, 2018.

A SCS Trivia Night style question: Where was this photo taken?

Mar 19, 2018.

In case of fire, do you use elevator.

Mar 18, 2018.

His heart is at work.

While most people were away last week because of the spring break, this guy sat at the teaching common the entire week. Apparantly, his heart is at work. A typical CMU student.

Mar 14, 2018.

Physicist Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76 on Pie Day

When the east coast was entering pie day, I heard that we lost Professor Stephen Hawking. Pie day is special not only because it is 3.14. It is also Einstein’s birthday. This year, it has also become Hawking’s death date. I still remember, when Professor Hawking’s books were translated into Chinese, TV programs were repeating over and over again that Profssor Hawking was born on the day on which Galileo Galilei died. Maybe great minds are always connected.

Speaking of Professor Hawking’s science, I thought of a comic sticked outside the office of Professor Thomas Ferguson, who helped construct Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in Wean Hall.

Mar 2, 2018.

Harry Potter Shabbat

I was surprised by how often I could spot a Harry Potter related thing on CMU campus. I was even more surprised when I found out that there would be a Harry Potter themed shabbat at Hillel Jewish University Center.

When I arrived at the front desk, there was a “sorting hat” from which you can draw an image of a house’s badge. This “sorting ceremony” decides which table you will sit at. I was “sorted” into Ravenclaw, although I was wearing Gryffindor gears. All three other houses’ tables are quickly filled, except for ours. By the time dinner started, we only had 3 people. The organizer said, “Maybe Ravenclaws are still studying.” That sounds like what CMU students are doing all the time. No wonder most students in our Harry Potter course identify them with Ravenclaw.

I can never forget how delicious their bread was!

And here’s a trivia:

Name a jewish student at Hogwarts.

Feb 14, 2018.

Valentine’s Day @ CMU

My office mate told us if you brought your laptop to the bookstore, they would clean it for free.

People celebrate Valentine’s Day with their valentines. Same here at CMU. However, CMU might have defined valentine slightly differently. It expanded the concept beyond human beings. Apart from your collaborators, people usually interact the most with their valentines. If we count objects as well, one’s laptop is definitely the number 1 valentine of most CMU students.

Feb 9, 2018.

Why are there rice noodles on the roof of Newell Simon Hall

You konw spring is coming when the snow on Newell Simon Hall’s rooftop becomes rice noodle (image on the right).

Image source of the second photos

Sep 28, 2017

Computer Science at CMU is not just for boys

You can find interesting things in restrooms! Here’s what I found in girls’ restroom on 5th floor in Gates:

Although it sounds great, I think they should have put it in boys’ restroom or on a public wall. I believe the intention was to encourage women to pursue computer science if that’s what they have been wanted to do. But the point I wanted to make is that women, maybe especially female graduate students, here at CMU are already brave enough to make it this far. We should not only focus on encouraging women, but also educate our male colleagues and build a friendly environment where woment don’t have to be encouraged to pursue their favourite subject. If CMU CS is gender inclusive, women can feel it. We don’t need to be reminded by a sign in a single restroom. If gender inclusiveness is something that CMU CS is proud of, then I wish to see this sign in a public space.

Sep 21, 2017

How to pull an all-nighter in 5 minutes?

Hey, have you pulled an all-nighter? NO?? You were too busy sleeping and forgot to stay awake all night pretending to work hard? Well, when you walk into the classroom, everyone will look like a panda except for you. You will look like an outsider!

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. If you go to the girls’ restroom on the 4th floor in Gates, you will see everything you need. Free of charge.

Sep 19, 2017

Happy smiley’s 35’s birthday!

Do you know who invented :-)? Where was :-) first used?

On 19 Sep, 1982, way before the emoji era, Scott Fahlman at CMU decided that people should use :-) for happy feeling and :-( for sad feeling. When they could only communicate through plain text, this was the cleverest idea. Now we have emoji, but I’d say text emoticons are still very useful and efficient. Here’s a list of text emoticons. (^o^)/ (◕‿◕✿)

BTW, do you know why CMU’s computer science ranks 1st? Because we invented bug swatter that can help our students quickly identify bugs so as to accelerate our research progress!

Sep 14, 2017

CMU is hiring!

Job description: clear the steep, overgrown hillside between the Gates Center and Purnell Center for the Arts.

Job compensation: tons of fress leaves!

Do you know who got the job? A group of goats!

For some unknown reasons, there was also a donkey.

Aug 16, 2017

First day in my new office! May the source code be with you!

Our Pastry Shop

Wean Hall 5115, Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA, 15213 USA