|FIRST DRAFT of the SOP given by the Student:
The fruits of technological advances are conspicuously manifested into a cell phone in every pocket and a computer in every backpack but what’s less noticeable is the information that’s being generated along with these advances. With the huge amount of data being accumulated by the day, we can very well justify that we are living in a data-driven era and every day we face a data related problem. Just like every single thing in this universe has been bitten by the bug called evolution so has data, from being measured in bits and bytes the term of measurement has undergone a metamorphosis to an extent that we have units like petabytes and exabytes to measure the tidal wave of data being generated which can also be called as the Big data. I have been fascinated with the concept information and data ever since I played Scotlandyard. This game is all about finding the location of Mr. X, you need to work with all the pieces of information in your hand in such a way that when all the pieces come together they fit perfectly to solve the puzzle. This generated a sense of thrill in me with all the iterative trial and error methodologies, if I went wrong I would spend the entire day thinking about how I went wrong and how close I was to finding Mr. X. This made me realize that every data has the potential to reveal secrets if only we were willing to listen to it.
Today when I look back I realize that Scotlandyard is nothing but an analytical puzzle masquerading as a board game. Being curious and analytical by nature choosing Data Science as a major came naturally to me. As one chapter of my education ends and I open the door towards another I don’t see a destination as apt as your university to hone my analytical skills and broaden the horizons of my knowledge by giving me a more competitive and global platform (environment). I want to completely surrender myself to the field of Data science as data for me is a maze of information, and, I would like to apply my curious and perceptive acumen to scurry my way out from the redundant data towards the required information; Curiosity killed the cat! They say, but I think I’ll survive as my undergraduate education has laid a firm foundation to overcome the challenges I might face in my educational voyage.
As an undergraduate student I excelled in subjects like Data Structures and Algorithms, Data Mining and Business Intelligence, Database management, Advanced Database management and math scoring an average of 8/10 in all of these subjects. I have also obtained an award for scoring an absolute 10/10 in the subject of mathematics. These were the subjects that especially stimulated my interest in Data science as the practical sessions conducted for these courses awarded me the freedom to apply my logical skills and developed my aptitude towards analyzing a problem. These subjects also enhanced my programming skills in languages such as C, C++ and Java to an extent where I could create my own algorithms to find my way out of a problem definition, this is the part I enjoyed the most as I had to look into various facets and delve into various perceptions to come up with an optimal solution. Besides the practicals, the theoretical part initiated various concepts relating to storage and retrieval of huge amounts of data from a data warehouse as well as the operations that can be performed on them; these concepts intrigued me and acted as a strong driver for research on Data science as a subject. I deeply enjoyed the nature of these subjects as you just have to play around with a given set of information and that inculcated in me an enhanced reasoning expertise as well as a thorough understanding of how to work with data and garner knowledge from the vast spread of information. In addition to the skills conceived in me I developed a strong sense of appreciation towards the wide scope of Data Science as a subject stretching from business to healthcare and the infinite opportunities of further studies that it is going to provide me.
I have made a genuine effort to break through the walls of the classroom and experience the outside world by taking part in extra-curricular activities as well as social services. I took part in the inter department dance competition held by my college; it was a group event and my group stood 6th in the entire college. I have also been actively involved in my college fest TRINITY as a creatives team member and was selected as the creatives team head the following year because of my innovative ideas and diligence towards the fest. Being a part of the fest instilled in me a sense of responsibility, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me tackle complex situations. It also developed my leadership skills as being the head I had to lead the team, motivate them and nurture their minds into thinking creatively. I even volunteered to celebrate republic day at an orphanage as a part of a NSS task, here I interacted with many orphan kids; we spent an entire day with the kids and played a lot of games together. This volunteering work developed my communication skills as I had to deal with kids having different frequency and also enhanced my confidence among people. I also volunteered for the clean the beach drive which made me recognize my responsibility towards the community. All these new experiences have shaped me in some way or the other and have made me strong to live up to the challenges of the new environment that I am heading towards.
Just like Martin Luther, I have a dream, to work in companies like Google, Facebook , Paypal where I would get a chance to work with one of the best data scientists and hone my analytical skills. Then I plan to apply that knowledge to the data science industry in my native country, where tough the hype about the industry is prevalent but the actual implementation is still in its nurturing stage. The only thing that could bridge the gap between my skills and my dream is your university, because I believe your university could award me with the power to carry forward this data driven era and highlight my native country as one of the leading data science industries in the world. As the university adorns me with knowledge and shapes me into a fine structure I would definitely like to give back to the university by actively participating in research works that would bring credibility to the institution as well as adorn other students with the skill sets I have gained, keeping the pyre of education burning through eternity.
|FINAL DRAFT of the SOP created by the Counsellor:
“My life is better…. I bought a cow and used the remaining money to pay bail for my brother-in-law”, said Maureen, a 19-year old mother of one, when the GiveDirectly team followed up with her. Maureen is just one of the several thousands of people whose life was touched by GiveDirectly, a non-profit organization that uses mobile devices to transfer cash to low-income families in certain parts of Africa. The data scientists working at GiveDirectly used a completely novel approach comprising of four steps- Target, Audit, Transfer, and Monitor to facilitate this gracious endeavour. The colour of the roof acted as a parameter as they had already concluded that people with metal roofs were well to do as compared to people with thatched roofs. Using Google Maps, they would identify the location of a thatched roofed house. Then, the located house goes through an algorithmic image verification process to determine the level of poverty. Once the house has been identified as a genuinely intended beneficiary, the recipients obtain an SMS alert, post which they collect their money from the nearest mobile money agent. Finally, the recipients are monitored for successful delivery. The ingenious approach helped GiveDirectly eliminate manual inspection costs and help more families in need. A family in financial crisis could easily get money in an average of 32 minutes.
Reading about such interesting applications was when my fascination with the concept of data burgeoned. ‘If you torture the data long enough, it will confess’- I realized how true this statement of Ronald Coase was. With respect to making a wholesome career in this field, I intend on enrolling for the Master’s program in Computer Science at Stony Brook University. Graduating with a strong technical background after my Masters, I wish to establish myself as a competent Data Scientist, working with companies like Paypal, Facebook and Alphabet. In the long run, I intend to leverage the expertise gained through such impactful professional experiences to provide consultancy services to altruistic ventures like GiveDirectly that are working to make a difference in the lives of people in developing countries.
My undergraduate degree provided exposure to a multifaceted curriculum, thus laying a sound foundation for my plans for graduate studies. I gained in-depth awareness about concepts in calculus and statistical analysis through multiple courses in Applied Mathematics. Also, the courses in Data Structures and Algorithms, and Data Mining and Business Intelligence introduced me to different techniques for conducting searches, pre-processing data, as well as using clustering, classification and regression algorithms. In addition, the courses related to database management helped me gain knowledge about the nuances involved in storage and retrieval of copious amounts of data and normalizing it. Particularly significant was the course in Artificial Intelligence during which I learnt how to impart human-like thinking and decision-making capabilities to artificial agents through the use of techniques like partial order planning, forward and backward chaining, as well as search techniques like hill climbing, A* and simulated annealing. During the tenure of my undergraduate studies, I gained expertise in programming with C, C++, Java, and MATLAB and also actively participated in coding competitions on CodeChef and Hackerrank platforms. Having completed courses on Python and R programming at Coursera, I am currently pursuing an Oracle certification course on Advanced and Core Java to update my programming skills.
With my growing interest in the field of data science, I ventured into writing a Review paper on Security Intelligence with Big Data Analytics. The paper dealt with the working of Big Data Analytics and its usefulness in enterprise security by describing various intelligent software for security and then preparing a comparative study on the two most widely used software developed by IBM called the IBM QRadar and RSA. The paper’s main aim was to describe how Big Data Analytics helps track the anomaly in operations performed on a company’s data to identify a potential intruder, even though the pattern of the anomaly might be alien in terms of previous records. The paper has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer and Communication Engineering.
Projects during the undergraduate program served to broaden my domain knowledge through application of classroom concepts. One of them involved developing an aggregator website for pharmacies which enabled a user to locate the nearest and cheapest drugstore, check the available medications and their prices, and place orders. The database for the project was developed in MySql, and the front-end was designed using HTML and CSS. This project gave me my first brush with database functionalities and enhanced my skills in operations relating to databases.
Currently, I am working on my senior year project titled ‘3D Geometry using Augmented Reality’ which aims to develop an Android teaching-aid application using the Unity 3D and Vuforia software. The application will scan a drawing of a 3D figure that will act as a marker. This figure will get augmented on the screen and will provide the user with various functions to perform on the figure to develop a better understanding of the figure. The application also provides real-time videos and test series to evaluate an individual’s performance.
To develop a well-rounded personality, I actively engaged in various extra-curricular activities. I was a part of the inter-department dance competition held during my college festival ‘TRINITY’, a group event where we were awarded the 4th place in the entire college. Due to my innovative thought-process and technical skills, I managed to get selected as Head of the 50-member Creative Team for TRINITY where I was involved in developing the festival website. Through my creative inputs regarding website graphics, we were able to attract significant online traffic and registrations. As part of the National Service Scheme, I have organized several beach cleaning drives, blood donation campaigns, and campaigns to spread literacy among underprivileged children. Rewarding experiences such as these helped to develop my team and leadership skills, and the abilities to convincingly negotiate, resolve conflicts, and empathize with people.
At this stage, I believe pursuing a Master’s degree with focus on Data Science would catalyze my career progress, and the program offered at the Stony Brook University is perfectly tailored to my needs. I look forward to gaining a competitive edge through deepening my understanding of various statistical and analytical techniques and upgrading my technical skills through the well-structured curriculum. I am excited at the prospect of learning under erudite faculty like Professor Steven Skiena, whose numerous projects and research in the field of Sentiment, Text and Data Analysis has left me fascinated. Given a chance, I would hope to involve myself in his ongoing research endeavours. The excellent research facilities like the Data Science Lab would facilitate my research pursuits in my fields of interest like Data Mining, Data Analysis and Big Data. I look forward to mutually benefitting interactions with peers from culturally diverse backgrounds that would serve to broaden my perspective.
I hope the Admissions Committee recognizes my drive to excel in my academic and professional undertakings and issues an affirmative response. The honour of being associated with such an esteemed institution would be an additional motivation as I move towards realization of my ambitions.