a week ago i had my big prelim exam. i haven't chatted much about my exact work at berkeley, but i'll give a quick summary: unable to find a problem that stoked me in theoretical computer science, generally unhappy with theory and fearing that i couldn't meaningfully contribute to the field, i decided to expand my search for topics of interest and i landed in a class on human-computer interaction.
the entire semester was fascinating, with many neat readings (which i've discussed on this blog here and here) and research possibilities that i am intrigued to explore.
so i decided that this was the area for me, at least for now, and i dove in. diving in requires taking an oral exam where professors ask you 4 questions concerning a large set of papers covering the major ideas in the area. in case you're interested, you can find a slightly different reading list here.
now, you pass the exam if you get 60%. i botched one question, in my opinion, quite royally. i was stressed to no end because of this mistake, because with 2 of the other questions it was hard to read the professor's reactions, and some of the inquiries were quite open-ended.
after the exam, they tell me that they'll let me know my result in 1 or 2 days. so i'm freaked out for the next two days. as i'm driving home, i get a call from my friend who also had an exam, and he tells me that he passed. at this point, i restrain my foot and attempt to drive the speed limit as i head home to desperately check my email.
i passed! and i didn't do as badly as i thought. now that chapter's over, and i can focus on research and learning.
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